Hawaii Tourism Oceania’s country manager for Australia has sung the praises of travel agents in helping it communicate the value of the US island state.
Speaking to Travel Weekly at the 2018 Global Tourism Summit, Giselle Radulovic said that while online travel agencies have a decent share of the overall market, nothing beats the expertise and knowledge of a good travel agent.
“The fact that 60 per cent of Australian travellers to Hawaii still book through a travel agent is a clear testament to that,” she said.
While Radulovic acknowledged that the current currency exchange rate had weakened, she said HTO combats this by demonstrating the value and depth of experiences Hawaii has to offer.
“Australians love to travel, and there’s a lot of competition for where to go. We are competing with other destinations that are a little bit closer, like some of the islands and Southeast Asia, and they are more price-sensitive,” she said.
“We continue to show the depth of experiences and that travellers can return to Hawaii and have a different holiday each time, whether it’s a new culinary experience or a visit to the neighbour islands.”
And HTO “is communicating this message to agents well”, with a repeat visitor rate of 48 per cent.
Radulovic said Hawaii Tourism Authority’s online training platform has played a big part delivering the message, along with face-to-face training via roadshows, sales visits and conferences.
“Our annual educational roadshow, Aloha Down Under, reaches more than 1000 agents and has a great attendance by Hawaii stakeholders and partners,” she said.
HTO also plans to boost its MCI relationships with a new agent/planner incentive to increase room nights, and is continuing with its ‘always on’, digitally-led marketing strategy.
Radulovic added that the organisation won’t be shying away from mass media either.
“We do TV every year, and we’ve noticed recently that major TV broadcasts are giving us really good exposure and working really well with our direct consumer campaigns,” she said.