Wholesaler Revisits Hawaii

America West Vacations offers commissionable packages starting at 13%

By: Marty Wentzel

America West Vacations, which recently re-entered the Hawaii vacation package business, is paying at least 13% commission on all bookings made by Dec. 31 for Hawaii travel through 2003.

The Arizona-based wholesaler also is offering Hawaii training sessions in partnership with Aston Hotels and Resorts and the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau. The sessions will be held during its Oct. 16 travel agent product show in Phoenix, and agents who attend will get two free nights at an Aston property in Hawaii.

Jack Richards, president of America West Vacations, said the company relaunched its Hawaii product after a code-share and marketing agreement was established Aug. 1 between America West and Hawaiian airlines.

“We’re able to add the Hawaii vacations with minimal capital investment, because America West Vacations already has the infrastructure in place, plus 15 years of experience in the tour-packaging business,” Richards said. “We have a reservations center in Tempe, plus preferred relationships with several large travel agencies that facilitate marketing and sales of our Hawaii packages.”

Since Sept. 20, America West’s Hawaii packages have been available for booking from Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Ontario, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Seattle and Portland.

By mid-October, the firm will add packages from Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Denver, Calgary, Toronto, Salt Lake City and other gateway cities across North America.

America West also sells vacation packages to Las Vegas, Arizona, California, Reno/Lake Tahoe, Canada and Mexico.

Richards said he expects Hawaii to represent 12% to 15% of the wholesaler’s total business in 2003 and to increase to 20% in 2004.

“We believe Hawaii will contribute significantly to the profitability of the company,” he said. “The average package price for Hawaii is almost twice that of Las Vegas.”

America West offered Hawaii vacation packages from 1989 to 1991, when America West Airlines operated nonstop 747 service to Honolulu from Phoenix and Las Vegas. It discontinued the program when the carrier stopped flying to Hawaii in April 1992.

To promote the Hawaii packages, America West is placing newspaper ads in 20 major metropolitan areas to drive business to travel agents. The ad campaign, which began Sept. 29 in Phoenix, is scheduled to expand into the first quarter of 2003.

For its Hawaii product, America West is working with 60 hotels and resorts on Oahu, Maui, The Big Island, Kauai, Lanai and Molokai. Through 2002, a five-night Hawaii package from Los Angeles is priced from $493 per person, double, including hotel, air travel, airport transfers, a lei greeting and an orientation breakfast. From Seattle, the package costs $564.

A number of Hawaii hoteliers, including Aston, Starwood, Hilton and Outrigger, are scheduled to participate in America West’s 2003 travel agent product shows. In addition to the Phoenix show, there will be events in Dallas/Fort Worth Oct. 15, in Denver Oct. 17 and in Chicago Oct. 22.

Information is available from Michael J. Pierson Associates, which handles America West Vacations’ travel agent product shows, at www.mjpaseminars.com or by calling 800-853-5891.