Kay Ryan, also known as Maui Kay, is a travel agent who lived on Maui for many years, knows Maui, and gives super service when booking your Maui hotel, condo, and activities. Why use a travel agent in these days of self-service internet booking? Because Kay knows all the secrets to get you the best place that suits your own personal needs, and it doesn’t cost you anything extra. See below for my interview with Kay to learn more.
I interviewed Kay Ryan over lunch at Cane and Taro in 2011. Here’s what I learned.
Jon: What services do you provide for Maui visitors?
Kay: I help people plan their vacations to Maui. I can arrange for air, rooms, car, island activities. Basically I am a travel agent and their concierge all rolled into one person.
Jon: How are your services different from other travel agents?
Kay: I try to focus on the island of Maui as the main destination as I have lived here and this is what I know best. When you contact me, I will be there to assist you in planning your vacation. I can answer your questions and set up your activities. You always get the same person, me. You never have to start over to explain who you are, what your plans are, I am the only agent and I keep really good notes. Your home travel agent does not know every hotel and condo on Maui, and the best deals on Maui, like I do.
Jon: How much does it cost to use your service?
Kay: It does not cost anything extra to use my services. I earn a commission on most everything I book for you. And some things I do, I don’t earn anything. I just like to make sure you are having a great time on your vacation.
Jon: How long have you been doing this?
Kay: I created my company in 1995. I grew the business gradually, first as a concierge and activities. Then I booked cars and condos. And eventually I added full travel and vacation packages.
Jon: How and why did you get started in this business?
Kay: I was a concierge at the Maui Marriott and loved helping hotel guests. Though back then, the internet was new and people came to Maui not knowing what there was to do. I could only spend about 10 minutes with each guest. I wanted to be able to share more information and personalize it for them. I established myself on an AOL Maui Travel message board as a Maui specialist and things really took off from there.
Jon: How can visitors contact you to inquire about your service?
Kay: The best way to contact me is by email firstname.lastname@example.org. With different time zones I can be 2 – 6 hours earlier. Plus with email, you don’t have to take notes. You can keep the emails and always have the details of what has been discussed.
Jon: How can I get the best prices on my Maui vacation?
Kay: This is one of the best questions. I definitely work hard to get the best prices I can for you. It is difficult to compete with some online travel sites, though I am always really close. So, you have to ask yourself, is it best to pay the cheapest price and get the least amount of service? Or maybe pay a bit more and get personalized service. Also, there are many little tricks in the business. The free night packages are not always the best deal. Lately, there have been reduced room rates when purchased with airfare. For example, I have a client who wants to come to Maui for 10 nights, 2 rooms and a car. I price out the package and give him the rate. He didn’t have enough miles so asked me to add airfare from West Coast onto the package. I found that special rate and the total package price increased by $400. So, he basically got 5 round trip tickets for $400. You can’t beat that deal. I have special amenities that I can add on at certain hotels. Some have daily breakfast buffet, discount at the spa, gift or amenity sent to your room and possible upgrades. I know when we can get you these perks.
Jon: What else should I know about you and your service?
Kay: I love Maui. I want you to love Maui too. I have some fun stories of things I did with clients. Some clients and many strangers were at my home for 6 hours during the Tsunami warning in February of 2010. Final count was 31 people and 6 animals. I have babysat for some kids while parents went to dinner. Recently I helped 2 couples from Australia order Kindles and sent to me to deliver to them in Maui. Shipping to Australia would take 7-9 weeks. I have loaned out tennis shoes, for horseback riding, aero bed for a small child. Stored luggage, allowed people to freshen up before flying out late night. Trust me, Expedia and Orbitz cannot do these things for you. Sometimes I have even loaned out my kids as playmates. Maya has her friend Lauren, we have photos of them together since age 1. I am not just your average travel agent who books you one trip. I expect to help you back in Maui time and time again. And your friends too.