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Costco Travel and Hawaiian Airlines Join In Intriguing New Pair-Up

In a move that could either redefine air travel booking for some Hawaii travelers or raise more questions about how airlines market to us, Costco Travel has teamed up with an Indian tech innovator based in Singapore to provide exclusive ” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”>Hawaiian Airlines “premium content” to the Costco Travel booking platform. This partnership is touted as a game-changer, but is it really poised to deliver on its promises?

According to the press release, this means better airfare deals when using Costco Travel and their ability to up-sell services, which they could not do adequately before.

Neither of these companies are ones that exemplify leadership in travel technology.

There is much good that can be said about these two companies. On the other hand, Costco Travel and Hawaiian Airlines don’t exactly have a stellar track record with technological innovation, making this new partnership’s ambitious claims a tough sell until proven otherwise. Read on for more on that.

Also, with the pending merger between Hawaiian and Alaska, we are unsure how Alaska Airlines feels about this latest tie-up, since they have a different program they use with overlapping capabilities, including handling both dynamic fare pricing and ancillary up-sales. That product is called Architect.

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A new era of Hawaii air travel booking, or just more of the same?

Mystifly’s Smart Selling Platform (SSP) claims to simplify the fragmented world of air travel booking by consolidating multiple sources into one seamless visitor experience. It employs AI and natural language processing to enhance data accuracy and automate post-booking services. While this sounds impressive, it’s worth questioning whether these technologies significantly improve existing systems.

Rajeev Kumar, founder, CEO, and managing director of Mystifly, touts SSP as a revolutionary solution. “SSP is the industry’s first cloud-based solution purpose-built for selling and servicing air at scale,” Kumar says. However, travel has seen many so-called revolutionary technologies that ultimately failed to deliver lasting value for consumers.

“Exclusive Hawaiian Airlines content” for Costco members – but at what cost?

The partnership promises exclusive access to Hawaiian Airlines’ content for Costco Travel members, better deals, including what they’re referring to as “Neighbor Island point-to-point flights,” as well as dynamically priced ancillary services (seat selection fees, baggage fees, trip insurance, and anything else Hawaiian could sell).

“While these offerings might appear attractive, they also raise questions. Are these “exclusive” options really beneficial to the average Hawaii visitor, or are they another marketing gimmick using the ploys of scarcity and urgency to create more bookings at higher cost?”

Beat of Hawaii Editors

Brent Overbeek, EVP & Chief Revenue Officer at Hawaiian Airlines, said, “This integration ensures our offerings are seamlessly available to Costco members, enhancing their overall travel experience.”

We’ll continue to scrutinize whether this integration genuinely enhances the experience to the benefit of Hawaii travelers or adds another layer of complexity for more ancillary sales.

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Are we solving industry challenges or adding new ones?

This is in part intended to make it easier for Costco Travel to offer a variety of Hawaiian Airlines flights and services, potentially providing more options and, we hope, better deals for travelers. However, as we’ve seen with technology, and especially in Hawaiian’s case with its still incomplete Amadeus reservation system, following a failed upgrade from their prior reservation system, the complexities of integrating new technologies can lead to unforeseen issues and costs, leaving us cautious.

The future of Hawaii travel innovation or just another tech gimmick?

Mystifly has a strong and impressive customer base, including big names in Hawaii travel like Priceline and American Express Leisure Travel. That suggests a level of credibility and success, as does their recent $8 million Pre-Series B funding round. The company is now under pressure to grow while delivering rapid, tangible results.

Mystifly’s other recent partnerships include Google Cloud, which enhances the performance and analytics of its AI-driven “personalized offers” and dynamic pricing​. Additionally, Mystifly’s partnership with Qantas Airlines significantly strengthens its position in the airline sector.

Costco Travel technology has long been lacking.

From the viewpoint of its customer interface and user experience, many, including us, see the Costco Travel experience as lagging behind, in spite of frequently good deals.

Some describe the website interface as rather outdated and not as user-friendly as other modern travel booking websites. Yesterday, when using Costco Travel, we were referred to their call center instead since not all options were available online. After experiencing long wait times, we ended up hanging up.

While there is no doubt that Costco Travel offers competitive deals that many of take advantage of, the choices available are often quite limited and thus don’t always reflect either the most diverse options or the best rates.

Despite the user-facing issues, Costco Travel is striving to enhance its technology, and this Mystifly tie-up is an example of that effort. However, the success of this integration in improving the Costco Travel user experience still awaits us.

In the end, will the Mystifly-Costco Travel-Hawaiian partnership deliver?

We are intrigued by this latest promise of exclusive Hawaiian Airlines content and a streamlined booking process. However, travelers and industry watchers are wise to remain skeptical.

Both Hawaiian and Costco Travel are latecomers in the endless catch-up game of travel technology. Only time will tell if this innovative tech pair-up will help these partners and live up to its media hype, or if it will become yet another overpromised and underdelivered solution in the Hawaii travel tech space.

Please share your thoughts!

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15 thoughts on “Costco Travel and Hawaiian Airlines Join In Intriguing New Pair-Up”

  1. Costco is never going to be a bad deal, rack rate at worst. I value my relationship with them but I always book directly or through Amex.

  2. Any car rentals I book for leisure – I bounce it off Auto Slash which keeps checking until the day of the car rental pick-up for the best price.

    As far as Hawaiian and Costco, at this point, Alaska cannot be involved in those airline-agency deals/discussions that Hawaiian has initiated.

    If it works, and the merger is approved, Alaska may well indeed permit a NDC connection for Costco Travel through Sabre. Alaska will not keep/maintain the Amadeus CRS system that Hawaiian uses – everything will transition to Sabre.

    How does this help Costco Travel right now? Allows them to book intra-island segments which Hawaiian has blocked third parties from selling, and eliminating a pain point that Hawaiian created.

  3. Have had problems in the past with booking through travel sites like Expedia ,et al, especially when there’s a hitch during the actual travel. Now I only book direct with airlines. Too many middlemen and probs otherwise. Same with rental cars. Kihei Rent a Car on Maui is the best, most honest vendor on island.

  4. I don’t know if Costco Travel is cheaper or not. If you have an issue with a hotel, flight , Costco travel is who you deal with. They will make it right and could refund your Costco visa card accordingly.I think resort fee’s are waived and most of the time they include a shopping card perk. At least if you have a Costco Executive Membership and spend over 2000 a year the 120 annual membership is returned as a rebate check. Third party websites might be cheaper but wait until you have a problem. Third party sites might just respond by sorry nothing we can do. Have a good day. Hint: Look at Priceline,Expedia,Orbitz,Hotwire,Kayak,Travelocity one star reviews.

  5. We have booked through Costco for all our car rentals, as well as hotels and condos in Hawaii for years. We have yet to have a bad experience, simple, informative and user friendly!

  6. Why go to Hawaii when Costco brought Hawaii to their stores. I saw a May Lei Flower in a box. On Oahu in 2009 I remember these costing $8.99 or 9.99. In a Costco on the mainland the same lei flower deal was $19,99. For one flower. Nobody even payed attention at that price. Pure Greed. Oh, I forgot to mention this was only the day before yesterday. Hey everyone look what kind of deal I got on airfare though. Better than Southwest $50%discount off deal. This was Free!!!! Thanks for reminding me that the Hawaiian Greed is fully alive and well.

  7. Once again, Rob and Jeff, you are providing valuable information for all travelers. Travel booking has become a real chore. Who do you believe? There are too many untruthful reviews. How many stops do we endure for air travel? I will use Costco Travel because my experience is that the company consistently provides value and cares about its members. Costco also has a good reputation for employee compensation.
    Thanks for your honest, unvarnished look at tourism!

  8. Such a deal. Party of 4 in Nov. Dec Maui Sheraton (4star) air (Midwest) and car for 5 nights. Over $8300. Thousands more than any 2Br/2ba STVR that’s on the water facing west.

  9. At the prompting of a relative, I tried booking a trip later in the year through the CostCo travel site. I then booked the same trip with the hotel’s site and the same airline (Hawaiian). The CostCo trip was about $5K and manually booking the trip was about $3K.

    Perhaps occasionally there are deals to be had, but no matter what 3rd party site I’ve tried to use in the past, be it Orbitz, Expedia, or whatever (they are all the same company now anyway, right?) their package trip always ended up being more expensive.

    Like others have said, I have found good deals on car rentals through CostCo.

  10. I’ve been booking travel using Costco Travel for years. Like anything else it requires time to learn how best to use their site.

    Costco’s strength is resort stay I recently booked travel to BI for October bundling flight with Hawaiian, rental car and resort stay at Hapuna Beach. I usually do not include flight as part of the package, but it came in so reasonable that I couldn’t turn it down.

    Also Costco’s resort stay packages are usually loaded with perks. Currently they’re offering packages to the Hawaii, especially to Maui, that are loaded with perks.

    Is it perfect? No. It will be interesting to see how this new partnership works going forward.

  11. Costco car rentals are the best. Cannot beat their price. Plus you can keep checking until the very last minute & get the cheapest deal. Easy to cancel older reservation.

    1. Gotta disagree here… I recently booked a car rental through Orbitz for December…was almost half the price of Costco.

      1. That might be true right now but keep checking, December is a long ways away and I guarantee you the Costco rate will drop significantly by then. I’ve been using Costco for my Maui rentals for 10+ (15+ trips) years and they’ve by far been the cheapest every single time plus you don’t get charged until you drop the car off.

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