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Kleon Howe, CEO and president of The Art of Travel in San Diego, Calif., has been selling the islands of Tahiti for 15 years. Not only is Howe a Honeymoon Specialist and a South Pacific Specialist, but he has also been rated as one of the top travel agents for French Polynesia and the Cook Islands by Conde Nast Traveler from 2003-2010.
From Howe’s experience on the front lines, destination wedding parties tend to stay in Tahiti as long as a week, with the bride and groom staying as long as two weeks. This gives plenty of opportunities for agents to make more commission on excursions and other vacation add-ons, said Howe.
“Sometimes, the couple heads to the island where they wish to be married and, then, stays to enjoy the island for their honeymoon,” he said. “More often, the couple has the wedding, enjoys their family and friends that have come along and, then, move to another island or two for the honeymoon.”
Howe advises that agents get to know the value of the destination so that they can better explain the per-night costs of the trip. What follows are some of Howe’s top tips on upselling romance travel to the islands of Tahiti.
• Suggest that the bride and groom purchase business-class tickets on the international portion. This gives more luggage space for the bride, and there are some great early booking business-class rates on Air Tahiti Nui. • Suggest adding on a few more nights at an island that is lesser-known, such as Huahine or Tahaa, in a less-expensive bungalow such as a garden bungalow. This gives a unique addition for the clients who have been to the islands on a previous trip. • Add activities for the bride and groom and the wedding party such as a lagoon snorkeling cruise or a 4x4 safari. Suggest for the women to have a spa morning before the wedding. • Suggest a traditional Polynesian wedding celebration complete with dancers and musicians. Each island and resort will be able to arrange these additions.• Add breakfast for each person if it is not already included in the package. On some islands with a small choice of dining off the resort, a great option is to include dinner each evening. • It is rare for anyone traveling to the islands to not spend at least some of the time in an overwater bungalow. If the client is only visiting one island for a week, upsell the last two to three nights in an overwater bungalow. This allows the clients to save a bit of money and, at the same time, give the clients a great overwater experience and the agent a little more commission.