Every destination faces challenges at some point in time in attracting visitors. Sometimes it’s a case of “trendiness”; at other times the experience falls out of favor. For islands, an additional challenge is often accessibility — how do visitors actually even get to your destination? Often airline access is an island’s oxygen and an important key to supporting the economic viability of the community. John Donne’s poem “No Man is an Island” reminds us that even though we are surrounded by water, our success comes from our connections and remembering we are part of a larger “continent.”
Lanai is an island that has often been perceived as access-challenged. Our smaller runway means larger jets from the mainland can’t land, which entails at least one change of plane if not more for guests.
Recently, however, Hawaiian Airlines launched service and twice-daily flights to Lanai on ‘Ohana by Hawaiian — a new regional turboprop service — as part of an expansion of the airline’s network.
The flights not only service our guests but connect residents and the island communities together — hence the name ‘Ohana, which means family in Hawaiian.
Island Air, another regional carrier servicing Lanai, has been busy as well, enhancing its check-in areas, improving technology and actively increasing staff service training to improve the customer experience.
In a true partnership though, all parties need to come to the table. We can’t expect airlines to fly empty planes, can we? Those of us in the destination thus need to do all we can on our end to market and deliver great experiences to stimulate demand.
They say you can’t expect to keep doing the same thing every day and expect different results; it is up to us hoteliers and business owners to keep innovating and pushing our boundaries. Maybe it’s looking at new markets that haven’t yet experienced your destination or creating new activities or amenities to make travelers eager to visit. In our case, these are the Chinese, Korean and Japanese markets, amongst others.
We also opened a passenger lounge in the Honolulu Airport to create a luxurious, pampered sense of arrival even before guests reached the resort, and Island Air provides a concierge transfer service escorting guests from their terminal to our lounge.
It’s key to remember that ensuring clear channels of communication, honesty and respect for each other’s goals makes for a successful partnership. Because “no man is an island,” working together we all win.