How to Earn Commission Selling Hawaii Summer Travel

How to Earn Commission Selling Hawaii Summer Travel

Travel agents can reap rewards while booking clients on the perfect summer getaways to the Hawaiian island By: Marty Wentzel
<p>Agents should prebook popular commissionable summer activities such as mountain tubing on Kauai // © 2017 Kauai Backcountry...

Agents should prebook popular commissionable summer activities such as mountain tubing on Kauai // © 2017 Kauai Backcountry Adventures

Feature image (above): Upgrade clients to a rental convertible so they can better enjoy the sunny weather. // © 2017 iStock

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Provide clients with insider tips, such as these five under-the-radar Hawaii activities.

The Details

Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau

Hawaii experts agree: When it comes to summer vacations, the Aloha State practically sells itself. From June through August, the islands' reliable weather, range of accommodations and roster of activities call to travelers of all types, especially families.

During this popular season, travel agents can turn Hawaii's selling points into lucrative sales by tapping into some current tricks of the trade. Here, tourism pundits share their insider tips to help agents enhance clients' summer sojourns while elevating their own income.

Upsell Whenever Possible
For summer travel, adding value is profitable for both the client and the agent. According to Jack Richards, president and CEO of Pleasant Holidays, the upselling should begin with seat upgrades for the long trans-Pacific flight.

"Upon arrival, include a lei greeting for a true aloha spirit welcome," Richards said. "And the best way to explore the islands? A convertible rental car."

Advocating for accommodations that include free breakfast can also add value to a vacation.

"While travelers may be inclined to dine off-property for lunch or dinner, most of them enjoy breakfast at their hotel," said Tim Mullen, president of Apple Vacations. "If you're not including daily breakfast on your client's booking, you're not earning maximum commission."

Likewise, agents should extol the virtues of a higher room category, particularly for travelers celebrating a special occasion.

"Make it an automatic suggestion to book club-level rooms and suites," said Scott Wiseman, president of Travel Impressions. "It provides customers with greater experiential value while resulting in a higher commission for the agent."

Urging clients to choose larger Hawaii accommodations is also highly effective with the many families who travel during the summer, says Robin Harlow, vice president of sales for Aqua-Aston Hospitality.

"Why not sell two rooms instead of cramming a family of four into one hotel room?" Harlow said.

Or, she says, recommend two- and three-bedroom units and explain the cost increase vs. the value it represents.

"Families traveling together will be happy with the added space and in-room amenities, such as fully equipped kitchens and separate living room areas, while agents get a bigger commission," Harlow said.

Prebook Activities, Promote Longer Stays
When booking Hawaii travel, a simple mantra bears repeating: The more activities a client experiences, the more commission an agent earns. During the busy summer months, many activities sell out quickly, according to Robyn Basso, senior director of travel industry partnerships for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB).

"Agents should prebook activities to make sure that clients don't miss out, while locking in their own additional commission," Basso said.

As they line up each day's itinerary, agents must keep up with the latest travel trends.

"Among the most popular activities we're currently seeing are Kualoa Ranch on Oahu; Old Lahaina Luau on Maui; Kauai Backcountry Adventures; and Hawaii Forest & Trail's Mauna Kea Summit & Stars Adventure on Hawaii Island, all of which fill fast," said Brent Mayes, president of All About Hawaii.

Pleasant Holidays' Richards notes that more travelers are requesting personalized and private tours with a cultural bent, as well as eco-tours with hiking and kayaking. Tara Lano of Gogo Vacations says she has seen a surge in clients who want to engage with the local culture through activities such as voluntourism and cooking classes.

"Booking excursions in advance underscores the true value of working with an agent," Lano said. "Not to mention, it increases commission."

Since Hawaii features six different islands, savvy agents can encourage clients to make the most of their vacation by visiting more than one. In doing so, the summer trip can lead to future Hawaii bookings, Richards says.

"Agents can divide the four most popular islands - Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island - into pairs, then plan two consecutive vacations for the client," he said. "A third vacation can pair the client's favorite two islands."

Use the Tools, Consult the Calendar
Agents can further fuel their summer income by taking advantage of the educational initiatives from Hawaii's visitor industry. HVCB's resource center presents agents with a range of programs to help craft and sell a trip to the islands. Hotels are doing their part with online support, as well. For instance, Starwood's SPG Pro - a website for travel professionals - provides modules on upselling, negotiating and closing the sale.

Incentives and wholesaler deals allow agents to bring in even more money and perks through Hawaii bookings. A good example is Travel Impressions, which gives agents 1,000 bonus points per booking. Points can be redeemed toward a wide variety of rewards. All About Hawaii offers booking bonuses, agent rates and free nights at a number of properties, and it pays extra commission at select accommodations.

Blue Sky Tours pays up to 15 percent commission from the time of an agent's first booking, with commission received at the time of full payment. With United Vacations, agents earn 5 percent commission on the air portion of the Hawaii booking and bonus hotel commission when they book upgraded room categories.

One additional tool - a calendar of events - can keep agents at the top of their game as they sell summer travel.

"Some of Hawaii's hottest festivals and special events take place during the summer, providing the perfect excuse to stay a little longer," said HVCB's Basso.

Among her picks for enhancing and extending a summer trip? The Kapalua Wine & Food Festival on Maui (June 8-11), the Prince Lot Hula Festival on Oahu (July 15-16) and Heiva I Kauai (Aug. 5-6).

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