In May, United Vacations took 10 Lunn Poly managers on an educational to Hawaii and San Francisco. The agents spent two days in San Francisco - visiting Alcatraz and other key attractions - and a week in Hawaii. They toured Honolulu and Oahu, visited Waikiki beach and Pearl Harbour and sampled Polynesian culture and hospitality. We asked three agents for their impressions before and after the trip.
Before: I had never been to Hawaii before and I thought it would be like the Bounty advert. I thought it would be like the Maldives - beautiful beaches and good weather but nothing to do. I have never sold many holidays to Hawaii unless clients asked for the place because I didn't have much to say about it other than what was in the brochures. If I did mention it clients tended to think of it as expensive and as I didn't know much about what they could get for their money, it was quite hard to overcome that view.
After: This trip was a real eye-opener - there is so much more to do in Hawaii than I had imagined. There are some excellent tours - lots of things to see and plenty of activities for those who want them. The golf courses are excellent, there are some good rambling tours and the plantations, gardens and historic sights which are all worth seeing. I became known as the shopaholic of the trip as I am not a great one for sunbathing and spent all my free time shopping - I had no idea Waikiki would be so good for designer shops. ThePolynesian culture is so warm and friendly and everything is so pretty. I am really recommending Hawaii to customers now - it is quite different from how I imagined.
Lindy Gilley, Manager, Lunn Poly, Marlow, Berkshire, Age: 43
Before: I had never been to Hawaii before but I thought it would be very commercialised, built up and pretty tacky. I knew it had some good beaches but I imagined all the resorts would be rather overdeveloped and not very attractive. All I knew about Hawaii was Waikiki Beach and surfing. I didn't sell many holidays to Hawaii largely because my clients seemed to have a similar idea to me of what it would be like - busy and very modern. I think our ideas of the place were all based on the television images. I was interested to see the place for myself and get a better understanding of what it had to offer.
After: I have no hesitation recommending Hawaii now I have seen it for myself. The islands are absolutely beautiful and although Waikiki is quite built up, the development has been done really nicely. The people are so friendly and genuinely welcoming that you feel a part of the local community very quickly. In the Caribbean you can feel very isolated from the local way of life but in Hawaii you can get a feel of the atmosphere and culture very easily. There is a great deal to see and do and I am definitely recommending it now- the climate is just superb.
Linda Lever, Manager, Lunn Poly, Wilmslow, Cheshire, Age: 27
Before: I had never been to Hawaii or San Francisco but I had always wanted to go and this was like a dream educational for me. As my grandad had fought in both world wars I was interested in war history and fascinated by the idea of visiting Pearl Harbour. I also really wanted to go to Alcatraz. I imagined Hawaii would be fairly tacky and Waikiki would be full of high-rise buildings without a great deal of character. We receive a lot of enquiries and bookings for the US and the West Coast but I have never thought of suggesting Hawaii. When I did book clients there I just went on the information from the brochures and I only booked it when clients knew they wanted to go.
After: I love Hawaii and am now thinking of going back there for my honeymoon. Waikiki is quite built up but it's pretty upmarket - very unspoilt and natural. The people are lovely - really proud of their history, their heritage and their islands. They made us feel really welcome. A visit to Pearl Harbour is incredibly moving and brings the war home to you. The only negative point is the length of the journey, but it is certainly worth it - especially if you stopover in San Francisco en route to make it easier. People think of Hawaii as expensive but actually eating out and shopping is very reasonably priced. I have already booked several people there and am now the office expert.
Maxine Charnock, Manager, Lunn Poly, Altrincham, Cheshire, Age: 25
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