Agents can take advantage of discounts on dining, activities and more.// © 2011 Roberts Hawaii
In the Hawaiian language, mahalo means thank you, which is precisely what the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) wants to say to travel professionals who sell and promote the 50th state. With that in mind, HTA created Mahalo Month in 2009 and, today, the annual program provides more than 130 special offers and reduced rates to Hawaii-selling retail travel agents, tour operator employees and reservation agents.
Slated to take place from April 1-May 31, the initiative is designed to entice travel professionals to visit Hawaii and indulge in its natural beauty, fascinating culture, unique history and distinctive activities, restaurants and retailers.
In 2010, more than 2,000 travel professionals registered to take part in the Mahalo Month program, according to HTA president Mike McCartney.
"Our industry partners, including travel agents and tour wholesalers, play a very important role in helping us promote and sell the destination of Hawaii. The Mahalo Month program gives us an opportunity to show our appreciation for their efforts, and it enables travel professionals to experience Hawaii as a visitor would."
Mahalo Month offers are available on all six of Hawaiiís major island destinations. Travel professionals can select from a variety of discounted activities, such as 15 percent off the cost of a Bike Volcano Tour and 50 percent off an Alii Kai Catamaran dinner cruise.
Airline partners are also doing their part during the promotion. For example, Hawaiian Airlines is reducing airfares by 25 percent for full-time agents and wholesale consultants. Among the providers of ground transportation, Alamo is listing up to 15 percent off the cost of its car rentals.
Many of Hawaiiís hotels and condominium resorts are offering run-of-house rates. It costs just $65 per night to stay at Aqua Aloha Surf & Spa; Kauai Beach Resort is listing a nightly Mahalo Month rate of $115. For shoppers, Hilo Hattie stores are providing participants with a 25 percent discount on the purchase of island fashions.
Across the island chain, restaurants are jumping on the Mahalo Month bandwagon including Hula Grill, which is presenting agents with a complimentary mac-nut ice cream sandwich for dessert and Jimmy Buffett's at the Beachcomber, which is serving agents a free appetizer.
"The knowledge and experiences these travel professionals take back with them help them better promote and sell Hawaii as a destination to their customers," McCartney said. "After their visit, they are better able to assist their customers with firsthand knowledge and insight, which can help to convert potential travelers into actual visitors
Reservations for accommodations, airlines, restaurants, tours and attractions must be made directly with participating Hawaii visitor industry partners. To take advantage of Mahalo Month discounts, participants must download the Mahalo Month for Travel Professionals card from the website. In order to receive the Mahalo Month special rate, agents simply present the card along with a business card or a company authorization letter and a valid picture ID.