Trade conference confirms Hawaii open for business, addresses global tourism issues
(Photo above: Three of the seven Canadian travel product managers in attendance at the Global Tourism Summit in Hawaii met for an evening reception on the rooftop of the Hawaii Convention Center. Enjoying the event were (l. to r.) Solon Chan of Silkway Travel and Cruise in Richmond, BC; Denise Sterling of WestJet Vacations in Calgary; and Louise-Helene Bayard of TravelBrands in Montreal.)
Canadian travel product buyers/managers who attended the Global Tourism Summit in Hawaii recently learned that the event had a double agenda. That is, they not only had the opportunity to meet and network with Hawaii tourism product suppliers, but also to take in a more expansive schedule that addressed world tourism trends and issues.
Those contacted agreed that the Summit covered both bases. And, in attending the three-day event in Waikiki, they also left with assurances that Hawaii is open for business, after a tough spring and summer of seismic
“We were in constant communication with our Hawaii partners during the course of Kilauea’s activity and Hurricane Lane, so knew that there no issues for our guests at any of our hotels or the islands themselves,” said Denise Sterling, product manager for WestJet Vacations, who has lots of experience in the Hawaii market.
“I pretty much knew that all was okay, as we are in constant contact with the destination, but it was nice to see, hear everybody talking so enthusiastically about their islands,” said Louise-Helene Bayard, the product manager at Travel Brands.
It was Bayard’s first visit to Hawaii, but she works with VP of product development Elvi Cal on Hawaii and corresponds with the suppliers on a daily basis, so she was aware that all was well in the Aloha state. But being there makes all the difference. “It was great to discover Honolulu/Waikiki,” she said.
“Attending the Global Tourism Summit was a great opportunity to meet and connect with many of our partners in Hawaii to review what we’ve accomplished in 2018 and to discuss opportunities for 2019. It was great to learn about what is going on with each of the international markets, as their increase/decrease in visitors and capacity to the Hawaiian Islands affects hotel availability and pricing, which in turn impacts travel for Canadians to Hawaii,” continued Sterling.
As for presentations schedule at the Summit, she reported that “there were so many great sessions that covered the key components to travel (air and accommodation), but sustainability and culture were also hot topics. Both are critical to maintaining the integrity of the destination.” She noted that WestJet has 53 flights this winter into HNL, OGG, KOA and LIH, with more than 100 properties available for booking.
Another buyer at the Summit was Tina Seminara, the director of product development for Air Canada Vacations. “Yes, it was definitely worthwhile to attend the Summit. There was plenty of new information this year and the speakers I saw were very interesting. And although not were 100% applicable to the travel industry per se, they will play a part in everyday life going forward. There were some new connections, but those were made outside of the convention format.”
Seminara noted that she particularly enjoyed the presentation by Michael Dominguez from MGM Resorts (Disruption from a Strategic Viewpoint). “The presentation by Brad DiFiore (The State of Air Service) is always interesting, but this year his presentation neglected to address airline lift from Canada – this, in a significant growth year for Air Canada.”
Air Canada will be launching a new service to Kauai with its new mainline Boeing 737 MAX-8 fleet starting in December. The airline will also be doubling the frequency of its flights from Western Canada to Hawaii, including Honolulu, Maui and Kona. These will also operate using the new B737 MAX aircraft.
For Solon Chan, a product buyer for Silkway Travel & Cruise in Richmond B.C., the Summit had some very valuable information. “For instance, the presentation on the air services access and the cruise industry were very good. The way the information was presented was very systematic and was combined with their own experiences and views.”
“I met with lots of suppliers and was very interested to learn more about cruise-based land tours. We are making plans to offer these programs to our cruise customers for next year,” said Chan.