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Lead Time for Hawaii Bookings Shrinks

By James Wilkinson

Hawaii is experiencing a significant decrease in lead times for bookings but the US state remains a popular MICE destination ex-Australia, according to Hawaiian Airlines.

Hawaii remains popular for group bookings

Hawaiian Airlines’ general manager – sales and marketing, Australia, Sherilyn Robinson, said group bookings are now coming very close to the date of departure as a result of the economic downturn.

“We’re very confident that our MICE bookings will grow in 2009, but just like leisure travellers, those responsible for making group bookings are now confirming their travel much closer to the date of departure than has been the case in previous years,” she told SpiceNews.

“With the ongoing discounting by airlines and accommodation providers, groups and individuals are waiting as long as they can to see what deals will come up.

“We’ve recently secured a number of significant group bookings to Hawaii, all of them relatively close to their time of departure,” she said.

Robinson said due to the extensive range of pre- and post-touring options, Hawaii was very much in the mind of conference and incentive travel planners,and that many bookings have come on the back of a good response at AIME.

“For the MICE market,  Hawaii not only offers meeting venues and accommodation – it offers a range of unique pre and post touring options that other destinations just don’t have,” she said. “Hawaiian also underpins the destination’s offerings with very competitive air fares, year-round.”

She said the Sydney-Honolulu route was performing well for Hawaiian Airlines at present – for both leisure and business travel.

“Sydney-Honolulu is performing well, but we certainly have plenty of opportunities for more travellers to visit Honolulu and the islands of Maui, Kauai and The Big Island of Hawaii,” she said.

“We now have in place domestic add on fares with partner airlines in Australia which enable us to offer through pricing from 20 destinations to Honolulu, and beyond to the islands and to the mainland.

“Importantly, there is also significant capacity available in major hotels in Hawaii to accommodate groups, underpinned by some very sharp group pricing, which we believe offers a significant and attractive option for the MICE market,” she said.

Robinson said Hawaiian was also working to build the stopover market by encouraging travellers bound for the US mainland to consider flying via Hawaii.

“We’ve launched our ‘Catch The Wave’ fares to the mainland, via Honolulu, enabling travellers to fly to Hawaii, then continue to one of our 10 mainland destinations and return from another, providing up to three US cities for the price of one,” she said.