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For the past 12 years, Maile Brown, director of marketing for the Kauai Visitors Bureau (KVB), has come face to face with travel agents as often as possible.
In turn, these advisors have learned more about Kauai, thanks to her participation in key trade shows and conferences as well as smaller educational seminars.
“I feel it is beneficial to get that in-person time with agents,” Brown said.
Additional KVB agent outreach includes webinars and fam trips, such as the Kauai Master Specialist program. Many travel professionals also follow KVB’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
“All of these efforts serve as a great way to keep Kauai top of mind,” Brown said.
We recently sat down with Brown to learn her thoughts on selling the island, what’s new, what’s tasty and why Kauai is always worth another visit.
During your years with KVB, how has your message to travel agents changed and evolved?The pre-booking of activities has become an essential part of the planning process for travel professionals. As the popularity of Kauai’s activities continues to grow, island activity partners are filling up weeks in advance — and even further out during summer and winter months.
To avoid disappointing clients who can’t experience something they were looking forward to, prearranging activities has become imperative.
What are you telling agents who are looking for a fresh perspective on selling Kauai?For repeat travelers, agents should suggest they take part in a special Kauai event, such as an art night, an annual festival or a farmers market. These experiences allow clients to interact with the locals and other visitors.
Also, there are always activities that repeat guests didn’t get to do on previous visits, from food and garden tours to ziplining. I have yet to meet someone who did it all on the first visit.
What changes are you seeing in the types of visitors who head to Kauai?Kauai has recently been discovered by visitors who always went to neighbor islands and are now looking for different experiences. Friends or family members are telling them about the kick-backed pace that Kauai offers. And, they’re hearing about Kauai’s natural beauty and the diversity of activities that help travelers explore those amazing landscapes.
What are the most newsworthy developments on the island?Thanks to increased and expanded airlift, agents have more ways to fly their clients nonstop from the mainland to Kauai. For example, on Dec. 20, United Airlines’ nonstop flight from Denver will be changing from a weekly seasonal flight to a daily year-round flight. And starting Dec. 15, we are getting a daily seasonal nonstop flight from Dallas on American Airlines.
Another hot topic is Kauai’s up-and-coming food scene. New restaurants are opening around the island. This summer, for instance, Ruth’s Chris Steak House will be making its debut at the Shops at Kukuiula in Poipu.
Speaking of eating, food trucks are a growing trend on Kauai. What are the best places for visitors to find them?Some of our food trucks move around. However, there is usually a group of trucks in Kapaa town, on the east side of the island, and in Koloa town, on the road heading south. In addition, every Thursday night on Rice Street in Lihue, Kauai Beer Company has Truck Stop Thursday, combining cool food trucks and great beer.
Clients also will find a couple of food trucks at Warehouse 3540, an old glass factory in Lawai that was recently turned into a wonderful montage of local shops.