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Travel site lets others go gaga over Hawaii rentals


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POSTED: Friday, October 30, 2009

The Hawaii travel Web site HawaiiGaga.com is based in Victoria, British Columbia.

Really.

“;We've been traveling to the islands for many years, fell in love with the islands and wanted to create a business that somehow related to our passion for Hawaii,”; said founder James Pretorius, who married his wife, Cathy, in Hawaii in 2003.

They decided a travel Web site “;would be a great way for us to realize that passion,”; he said.

James and Cathy Pretorius are prime examples of the snowbirds Hawaii residents hear so much about, avoiding the cold winter months of their homes by spending that time in the islands.

The two do not have travel industry backgrounds, but are experienced Hawaii travelers.

James was in software engineering and computer programming, while Cathy was in Web site development—and still gets gigs through her work on HawaiiGaga.com, he said.

“;There are so many vacation rentals in Hawaii that for tourists researching the choices, it can be overwhelming,”; he said. “;What we've done is all that organizing work for people.”;

People don't actually book travel through HawaiiGaga.com, but the couple does earn commissions from some companies with listings on the site, which track click-throughs to their own sites from HawaiiGaga.com.

At present there are about 5,000 rentals in the system.

“;What we do is, we give people a free listing for a period of time, and they opt in or out after a while,”; he said.

HawaiiGaga rotates others in and out, but vacation rental owners can pay to have a stronger presence on the advertising-based site and be involved in cross-promotional activities as well.

From the Pretoriuses' own travel experience, they know potential visitors want to know what the accommodation looks like, “;what does the beach look like, what does the resort look like, what does the area around it look like,”; and more.

The couple considered adding aerial photography to the site and found an online resource that made it clear they needn't reinvent the wheel.

They made contact and announced yesterday a new alliance with Big Island resident Brian Powers' Hawaiian Images Photography and Video.

The company started taking aerial photos of the state in 2004, beginning with the Big Island, “;and over the years continued with other islands.”;

The Hawaiian Images site has an extensive catalog of aerial coastline photos and real-estate photos and offers wedding, portrait and event photography and videography services.

Pretorius likened exploring the site to exploring Hawaii itself and getting to a spot that might be inaccessible “;and you wind up wondering, 'What's around that corner, what's hiding in there?' and being able to look around that one last corner is fascinating.”;

The Pretoriuses' long-term mission is to retire in Hawaii, and they are hoping to build enough success with HawaiiGaga.com to “;move the business to Hawaii and grow it there.”;

On the Net:
» www.hawaiigaga.com
» www.hawaiianimages.net