Geoff Staton (top)
Class of 1981
Shaun Wallace (bottom)
By Elaina Tavares
Geoff Staton and Shaun Wallace are both travel agents with Kaiko’o Travel located at the Hilo Shopping Center. As part of the Panda Travel enterprise, which is the largest wholesale travel agency in Hawaii, their five-person office provides cheap inter-island airfares and sells airline tickets to other travel agencies.
Geoff graduated from Waiakea High in 1981. He attended UH Hilo and then went on to the International Air Academy in Vancouver, Washington, (where 80% of Hawaii students go) to prepare himself for a job in the airline industry. After working at the Hawaiian Airlines ticket counter, he has been working at Kaiko’o Travel for three years. Geoff says that most of his customers fly to Bangkok, Thailand. The time he spends booking airline flights and packages depends on where the people are going and how complicated their itinerary is. What he likes most about his job are his co-workers, meeting new people, and earning free hotel rooms. His job enabled him to visit England and Scotland last year.
Shaun Wallace graduated from Waiakea High in 1997. Before graduating from the International Air Academy, he attended UH Manoa and Kapiolani Community College. After a six-month course, he worked for National Airlines and the MGM Hotel in Las Vegas. He has worked at Kaiko’o Travel for six years. As part of his job, he deals with a variety of customers and sends people all over the world. Depending on the destination and airline availability, it can take from 10 to 30 minutes to schedule one trip. He said the most work he did to book a tour was for a group of students who were backpacking throughout Europe and wanted to go “everywhere.” Shawn considers Hawaii as the most exotic place he has lived in, but his travels have taken him to the East Coast, Miami, New York, and Minneapolis.
While Bangkok is the most popular foreign destination, Las Vegas is easily the most popular U.S. destination with at least 60 people traveling to each place every month.
Online airline ticket booking has had the greatest impact on travel agencies, but both men say that people still want the personal touch that a travel agent can offer them. Although strict security restrictions remain in effect, both agents say that air travel is back to normal after the 9-11 bombings and the novelty of the low air fares that Go Airlines encouraged has resulted in lower airfares. These travel agents receive salaries with medical and medical benefits, but, unlike some other travel agencies, no commissions.
Geoff graduated a semester early from Waiakea and began taking UHH courses on an early admit program. He participated in the French Club advised by Miss Patricia Richardson and remembers Ms, Heidi Paik’s Creative Writing class. Shaun played volleyball and basketball all four years and says he attended school to play sports and P.E., to study drawing and painting, and to socialize with his friends.