Hawaii unveils PR-heavy tourism campaign

HONOLULU: As part of its 2010 tourism marketing strategy, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) will undergo a PR-heavy campaign to attract US businesses and consumers in Southern California to the island through 2010.

HONOLULU: As part of its 2010 tourism marketing strategy, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) will undergo a PR-heavy campaign to attract US businesses and consumers in Southern California to the island through 2010.

David Uchiyama, VP of marketing at HTA, explains that this year's regional approach – last year efforts were launched nationally - follows a drop in tourism, and funds, partially due to the shutdown of two major Hawaiian airlines in 2008: Aloha Airlines and ATA Airlines.

Uchiyama added that funding for Hawaii's marketing budget - $30 million overall this year - is reliant upon the state's transient accommodation tax which, partially as a result of a 15 percent cut in airline seat inventory into the state, has dropped.

“[The campaign] is very concentrated to Southern California and making an impact on those high-potential Hawaii visitors,” said Uchiyama. “PR is a very cost-efficient vehicle for us. We need to make sure that when we go into a market, we're more saturated than we have been in past."

He added that the organization is focusing on more traditional advertising in its largest global markets such as Japan.

The organization, including its Hawaii-based North America AOR, McNeil Wilson Communications, recently launched a month-long program for which it brings its chefs, known for Pacific Rim Asian fusion cuisine, to the Los Angeles marketplace for TV appearances and demonstrations. The program is tied to an eco-message tagged “Farm to Plate,” which communicates Hawaii's positioning on sourcing food locally, versus importing.

In January, the team plans to launch an educational consumer initiative about the foundation of Hawaii and its cultural and historic sites, promoting the information on the state's official tourism Web site and its blogger platform.

The team is using social media channels, including Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, to promote its efforts and post user-generated content on travelers' experiences.

“We're expanding into social networking in this go-around,” said Uchiyama. “The validity of a third-party experience weighs heavier when someone is trying to make a decision on a leisure destination.”

Tactics also include bringing bloggers from Southern California to Hawaii to document their travels.

Lastly, the organization aims to promote Hawaii as a convenient destination for international business meetings due to its proximity to Asia.

“Initial concerns [businesses] may have will be relieved by the fact that if they can increase attendance, meetings will be more productive over all,” he said.

The team is promoting testimonials and interviews, via regional media relations and its Web site, with people who have conducted international meetings in Hawaii and, as a result, seen an increase in attendance.

“Again, third-party experiences are going to be able to validate Hawaii as a business destination,” said Uchiyama.

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