Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

*logoIn an effort to bolster short-term arrivals across the state, the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau launched a monthlong, $3 million L.A.-area media campaign with two events held last week at the W Los Angeles Westwood.

Hawaii’s four county mayors -- Mufi Hannemann of Honolulu, Maui’s Charmaine Tavares, William Kenoi from the Big Island and Kauai’s Bernard Carvalho Jr. --joined HVCB officials and more than 60 members of the media at a pair of evening events featuring Hawaii-inspired cuisine, entertainment by Grammy Award-winning musician George Kahumoku and a range of cultural sessions led by island experts.

The events were the first in the HVCB’s “Hawaii: A Thousand Reasons to Smile” September blitz, organized in conjunction with several Hawaii suppliers to showcase the state through print, broadcast, online and electronic billboard advertising and a number of social networking and blogging initiatives.

"This is a big, concentrated campaign in our foremost market, with a view toward stimulating travel to Hawaii as we approach the fall and winter seasons," said John Monahan, the HVCB’s president and CEO. "We are using an integrated strategy that produced good results in the Bay Area earlier this year, and we are confident it can be repeated successfully in Los Angeles."

Eight Hawaii-themed cooking demonstrations and tastings will be held throughout the month at four L.A.-area Whole Foods markets. The Grove, a luxury shopping destination near Beverly Hills, will host a range of Hawaiian cultural activities, entertainment and Island-inspired meals during weekend-long events scheduled for Sept. 12 and 19.

In an effort to reach L.A. travel agents and wholesalers, the HVCB will also conduct a number of sales calls, e-marketing initiatives, webinars and agent training seminars with major suppliers during September.

"What we are attempting to do with all of the Hawaii-based supplier partners is present Hawaii in a very alluring way with more media weight, if you will, than we’ve been able to in the past to drive people to want to visit Hawaii in the short term," said Jay Talwar, the HVCB’s senior vice president of marketing.

"We’re doing the best we can to push people from awareness to desire to intent to buying the product, and we just need our partners who sell the product for us to be active, to be up to date on Hawaii, to be clear on where the packages are, where the prices are and really working their components of the job."

About 1.6 million Californians visited Hawaii in 2008, nearly 23% of the Islands’ total arrivals. According to Talwar, numbers like these made Los Angeles an obvious choice for the HVCB’s limited short-term marketing funds.

"L.A. is Hawaii’s No. 1 market, and there are incredible values in Hawaii right now,” Talwar said. “We know the L.A. marketplace loves Hawaii. And if we grow 10% there, it’s better than growing 10% in any other marketplace in the country."

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