Selling Paradise: Delta Vacations Expands Luxury Options in Tahitian Islands

by Jessica Montevago
Selling Paradise: Delta Vacations Expands Luxury Options in Tahitian Islands

Photo: Mayumi Ishikawa

Before overwater bungalows were brought to the Caribbean, they were the signature of the Islands of Tahiti. As the territory celebrates the 50th anniversary of its first overwater bungalow, and the great foundation it has provided, its destination marketing organization is beginning to look at other ways to market itself as the field becomes more crowded.

In addition to spreading the word about its diverse offerings, the ministry of tourism wants to create more visibility in the U.S., which makes up 40 percent of Tahiti’s visitors. Around 70,000 Americans visit the French territory each year.

“We’re thankful we’re known for the overwater bungalow and the lagoons, but like Sydney has more to offer than the Opera House and Paris has more to offer than the Eiffel Tower… there are other sides of the islands of Tahiti, as well as the people and the culture,” said Kristin Carlson Kemper, managing director of Tahiti Tourisme, at Delta Vacations University in Atlanta, Ga.

To achieve this, Tahiti Tourisme began partnering with Delta Vacations. In September, the tour operator added four Tahitian islands to its portfolio: Bora Bora, Tetiaroa, Moorea, and Tahiti. If successful, it could be expanded to include additional programs.

Four- and five-star accommodations across the islands
All together there at 12 properties in the portfolio, a variety of four-and five-star accommodations for booking across all of the islands with international and boutique hotel brands such as: Marriot International’s Le Meridien and St. Regis properties, Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts, Sofitel Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Hotels and Resorts’ Conrad Bora Bora Nui, and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

Included are: the five-star St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, the InterContinental Tahiti, and the Brando — the luxury resort located on the private island of Tetiaroa and infamous for its celebrity clientele.

Delta Vacations parent, Delta Air Lines, partnered with Air France, which will provide the eight-hour flight to Tahiti once travelers arrive in Los Angeles. Most travelers fly into the main island of Tahiti and then island-hop to the others.

“Our goal is to increase the number of arrivals from the U.S., which is exciting for us because we see this as new incremental business as opposed to just a market share,” Kemper said. “This is such a new audience.”

With Delta Vacations looking to ramp up its luxury offerings — which has seen a steady increase in demand — adding Tahiti to its portfolio seems like a natural addition. It also serves as a great opportunity for high commissions for travel agents, with the average booking costing around $10,000.

More than overwater bungalows
Located in the heart of the South Pacific, the chain of islands became known for their lagoons, pristine beaches, and lush vegetation. But the shift in branding will focus on the destination’s rich culture, and targets families and explorers, as it looks to expand beyond its niche in romance travel.

Across the islands, there are a range of activities, from zip-lining and hiking to water sports and visiting UNESCO World Heritage sites. Some resorts cater to families with special amenities, menus and kids’ clubs.

Cruise options to the territory are being expanded as well. French Polynesia increased its ports of call to more than 1,000 from 2012 to 2016, Ministry of Tourism Chief Program Officer Hironui Johnston said.

By 2020, the territory will have a new cruise terminal and will accommodate cruise ships from 100 passengers to 2,500 passengers, like the Norwegian Jewel.

“It’s another way to discover our islands,” Johnston said, adding it’s a convenient way to see
the whole territory.

Airport improvements are also slated to be completed by 2020.

Destination specialist program for travel agents
Tahiti Tourisme is offering travel agents the chance to specialize in the destination while earning “real benefits,” Kemper said. The destination specialist Tahiti Tiane Program is a tiered program, offering complimentary leads, FAM trips, and listings on its consumer-facing website.

To earn the designation, travel advisors must complete the modules and quizzes, visit the islands of Tahiti on a FAM trip, and make a minimum of $30,000 in bookings.

Tip of the Day
The professional travel advisor’s job is to equip the traveler with the necessary information to enable a good decision that will reflect that person’s own risk tolerance.
Paul Ruden
Daily Top List

Most Powerful Passports in the World

1. United Arab Emirates

2. Singapore

3. Germany

4. Denmark

5. Sweden

Source: Passport Index


How Will You Give Back This Year?

Learn from travel advisors who are positively impacting tourism through their sustainable travel efforts and empowering their clients to do the same. 

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection Reveals Name of First Ship
Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection Reveals Name of First Ship

The name of the ship, set to launch in February 2020, reflects the brand's signature color.

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts Will Open 21 Hotels in the Next Five Years
Rosewood Hotels & Resorts Will Open 21 Hotels in the Next Five Years

Rosewood says the growth will cement the brand's “global footprint.”

Four Seasons to Open Nine Resorts In 2019
Four Seasons to Open Nine Resorts In 2019

Among the cities getting new Four Seasons are Madrid, Athens, Bangalore, Cabo, Philadelphia, and Napa.

Travel Advisors Missing Out on $638 Billion Wellness Travel Market
Travel Advisors Missing Out on $638 Billion Wellness Travel Market

As consumers live longer, they are building wellness into their lives in everything they do, including vacations.

Hilton Outlines Big Growth For Luxury Brands
Hilton Outlines Big Growth For Luxury Brands

Aside from property additions, Hilton also revealed new features to existing properties, and a new partnership with Aston Martin. 

Small Luxury Hotels Adds Five New City-Center Sanctuaries
Small Luxury Hotels Adds Five New City-Center Sanctuaries

From Asia to Europe to Central America, these eclectic properties are meant for discriminating clients seeking something more distinctive than cookie-cutter hotel stays.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards & Outlooks
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Tauck