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