Occupation: Myth-buster

As most of you are no doubt aware, your clients are no longer coming to you simply to book tickets.

By: By Kenneth Shapiro

Kenneth ShapiroAs most of you are no doubt aware, your clients are no longer coming to you simply to book tickets. They are looking for an advocate, a hand-holder, a guide, a personal assistant, a financial analyst, a friend, a dream-maker and more. One of the many roles that agents are expected to perform these days is that of myth-buster. While most clients come to an agent after having done their own research online, often clients end up more confused by what was learned online than when they started.

“On this Web site it says that the best island for honeymooners is X, but my friend said it rained there all the time.”

“I read all the resort reviews by past guests and they all said something different.”

For this issue’s cover story, Hawaii Uncovered, we took some of the most common myths about one of the most important destinations to western agents, Hawaii, and asked experts for the inside information. If some of these myths sound familiar to you it’s because they were provided to us by real travel agents, and they represent the most common misconceptions agents hear regarding Hawaii.

As you’ll see in the story, there’s a lot of confusion out there — even when it comes to a destination as well known as Hawaii — which brings up an important point for all of us in the industry to keep in mind: Not everyone is an expert on travel. Just because we understand the differences between Kauai and Lanai, for example, doesn’t mean the traveling public does.

To its credit, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) could have decided to save a few bucks in these tough times by cutting back on their marketing and not worrying about educating consumers (as some CVBs have been known to do), but instead they announced recently that they will increase their marketing budget by $3 million. They know that the best solution when facing tough times is to go out into the marketplace and battle for its share of the traveling dollars, not shrink from the fight.

Certainly, part of the HTA’s efforts should be directed toward agents. After all, they are on the front line and can be the islands’ greatest spokespeople.