Why Were 110 Travel Agents Rotating Their Hips in Vancouver on Thursday Evening?
with Vickie Sam Paget
Lea-Ann Goltz, account manager for Hawaii Tourism in Western Canada, Sam Moe of the Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu, and Gerlinde Perena, vice president of client services at Vox International.
Kiana Uluaue (left) and Sam Moe (right) of the Polynesian Cultural Center with Colin Wood, Hawaii Tourism Canada account manager (centre).
Dave Emery representing Honua Kai Resort and Spa and Christal Bauer, national training and development manager at Flight Centre Travel Group.
From Air Canada Vacations: Marigold Frontuna, general manager, Western Canada, and Martha Dela Torre, area sales manager for BC.
It’s a special kind of industry event that sees 110 travel
agents getting up on their feet and dancing in the aisles…
But that’s exactly what happened on Thursday evening, when
the region’s agent community attended Hawaii Tourism Canada’s ‘Aloha Canada’
showcase at the stylish Rosewood Hotel Georgia.
It was clear from the get-go that this was going to be a fun
event, as agents were welcomed by smiling traditionally-dressed dancers from
Oahu’s Polynesian Cultural Center, who graciously adorned each agent with their
very own lei.
The same dancers would later get the agents up on their feet
for an impromptu group hula class. And having witnessed that display, I can
happily report that the industry’s hips in the West are working very well
Hips aside, there was indeed an educational element to the
evening, as major suppliers shared their knowledge during a small trade show
and representatives from the various Hawaiian islands gave presentations on what
makes each one unique.
Hawaii, of course, is huge news in the West. Not only is
Canada the destination’s second-largest market after Japan – some 500,000
Canadians sample the
each year – but a massive 75% of that market hails from British Columbia and
“The West is key,” enthused Colin Wood, account director at
Hawaii Tourism Canada. “And it’s growing. We’d like to see visitor figures up
to 550,000 or 600,000 each year, but we need responsible growth. We need to
spread the Canadians out across all of the islands and we need to make sure
that they don’t just go in January, February and March.”
So how can travel agents tap into this potential for
“Part of it is getting travel agents to assess if their
clients can perhaps travel during the shoulder season,” explained Wood. “They
can present the idea that it’s a little quieter on the islands if they go when
it’s not peak season. And it’s perhaps more affordable as well - so there are
some really good incentives for clients who want to travel at a slightly
quieter time of year.”
Traditional dancers Kiana Uluaue and Sam Moe show the travelagents how it’s done.
Dancing in the aisles: Vancouver’s agents put their hips into action during a group hula lesson