Kevin Wilmore is the Vice President/General Manager of Blue Sky Tours, a leader in tourism to the Hawaiian islands. Before holding his current position, Mr. Wilmore was the Director of Analysis and Planning at Blue Sky Tours. Before joining Blue Sky Tours, he held the position of Director of Destination Experience at The Mark Travel Corporation.
TRO: As a company that specializes only in Hawaiian packages, has Blue Sky Tours been affected by the recent natural disasters caused by the earthquakes in Japan?
KW: The Big Island of Hawaii was the most affected, and it was minimal damage along the Kona coast with a few properties taking on water due to the tsunami wave surge. They are handling everything very well and repair efforts continue around the clock. Blue Sky Tours helped relocate our passengers with minimal effort. Everyone was very well taken care of and the people were grateful that the island had very little damage.
TRO: What makes Blue Sky different from other operators that offer packages to Hawaii?
KW: Two of our main advantages are that we only sell Hawaii and we only sell through travel agents. Blue Sky Tours reservation agents are all Hawaii specialists. We make sure that our reservation agents travel to Hawaii at least once a year to see the properties we sell, as well as the local sites and activities that can make the difference between a good vacation and a great one. Our agents are also participating in the island’s Master Destination Specialists programs to further their education.
TRO: Is there a particular island or package that seems to be more popular than others are?
KW: Many visitors lean toward O’ahu for their first trip, or Maui. These are absolutely wonderful islands, but we believe it is important that your clients’ desires and expectations are fulfilled. To do so, our reservation agents take the time to learn about each client so they may choose the right island for them. If they want nightlife and shopping, then O’ahu is the best place. What many people do not know is that you can get an outer island experience on O’ahu as well. They can spend a few nights on Waikiki and then head to the north shore for a few nights and it is a very different experience. Another example is clients that want more of the old Hawaii feel with lots of outdoor experiences – if this is the case, then Kauai is the best choice.
TRO: How can travel agents benefit from a partnership with Blue Sky?
KW: Blue Sky Tours is not in competition for business with the travel agents as we are not vying for the same customer. We support agents with fam programs and co-op participation as well as promotions for the travel professionals and their customers. We help them take advantage of all the added values offered by hotels, such as opportunities for free amenities for their travelers, as well as free nights and promotions for themselves. We are always on the lookout for new opportunities to work with travel agents to grow their business to Hawaii.
TRO: What types of educational programs do you offer for agents who wish to work with your company?
KW: Blue Sky Tours sponsors fam trips for the travel agents several times each year. In celebration of our 30th anniversary this year, we plan to host fams to one island each quarter. We also offer webinars once a month with the hotels, the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau and the island chapters.
TRO: How can agents become involved with Blue Sky?
KW: They can visit us on-line at www.blueskytours.com or www.vaxvacationaccess.com or call Blue Sky Tours at 800-678-2787.
TRO: Are there any new or future developments at Blue Sky you would like to share with the travel agent community?
KW: We are very excited to be celebrating our 30th anniversary throughout 2011 with our travel agents, employees and partners. We also look forward to launching a new website with a new look and feel in 2011. We encourage travel agents to check out VAXVacationAccess, particularly the new content-rich Hawaii destination pages and supplier center that Blue Sky Tours has launched in partnership with the HVCB.