The Expedia travel website launched in 1996, revolutionizing the global travel industry. The idea was simple then and remained so for decades: give travelers a way to become their own travel agents. Expedia and other sites like it connected travelers directly with vendors, from airlines to hotels, from car rental companies to local eateries. Similar internet companies followed, spawning a new, virtual travel industry.
This presented a massive challenge to brick-and-mortar travel agencies, as a large percentage of travelers and vacationers were taking their bookings into their own hands. Hawaii Aloha Travel weathered that storm by focusing on customer service, providing real value and savings, and the kind of personalized service that is impossible to get from a website. Well over 100,000 bookings later, we’re still here, and we are thriving.
But then the global COVID-19 pandemic hit in the spring of 2020 and essentially stopped most domestic and international air travel. The global travel industry saw losses that were unthinkable in the months and even weeks before the pandemic shutdown. After a major statistical and qualitative analysis of travelers’ hopes and concerns, the Expedia Group (which includes hotels.com, Travelocity, and VRBO) recently announced a major shift in its business model to focus on working with travelers on their travel plans rather than focusing on maximizing bookings.
This is precisely what Hawaii Aloha Travel has been doing since we began over 20 years ago. Instead of racing to keep up with a rapidly changing industry, we’ve remained focused on being a travel partner to Hawaii visitors. The Expedia Group study shows that travelers are interested in travel support rather than making a few clicks, entering some data, and hoping for the best.
Indeed, with Expedia’s business model shift, it seems that the global travel industry has circled back toward Hawaii Aloha Travel’s approach. That is, to work directly with business and leisure travelers to find out what they are hoping to get out of their travels, and to connect them with the businesses and services best suited to meet their needs.
In fact, much of the extensive hard data compiled in the Expedia Group study bears out in what Hawaii Aloha Travel has understood first-hand from the beginning, and what the global pandemic has laid bare. Most travelers are primarily concerned with recharging and rejuvenating after a brutal year of the pandemic. That’s what people have always wanted from a Hawaii vacation or business conference: much-needed peace of mind.
People also want to minimize risks to their health, and to be sure that financial risks are also minimized or eliminated. This is why we have always worked with only the most reputable and accredited goods and service providers. It is also why we offer travel insurance and provide a variety of options to change or cancel bookings without penalty. It is the way we have always worked.
In addition to that, we also provide a variety of ways to interact with the Hawaii Aloha Travel ohana. Our Hawaii Vacation Connection Podcast and blog provide up-to-date information about the people and places that are vital to Hawaii tourism. We also provide live Facebook booking sessions and live online travel assistance, for real-time responses to your travel needs.
We want Hawaii visitors to connect with the essence of Hawaii, its natural beauty, its history, and its pervasive sense of community and Aloha Spirit. This is impossible for search engines and impersonal online travel agencies to achieve. Hawaii Aloha Travel is in Hawaii. Our agents live here. Making sure you have a fulfilling and unforgettable Hawaii vacation experience is personal for us.
We are delighted that Expedia Group has adapted this new approach that recognizes travelers’ needs and desires, and not just their ability to pay. Welcome to the party!