HVCB touts image to gain repeat visitors

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HONOLULU -- In an attempt to emphasize visitor spending, the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) outlined plans designed to lure repeat travelers from the western U.S. and strengthen the state's image among visitors from the East.

Seasonal advertising programs will focus on nonstop and direct airline gateway cities such as Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Chicago and Atlanta. The HVCB also will emphasize the arts, culture and golf in the leisure markets, according to HVCB president and CEO John Monahan. Hawaii has yet to maximize its potential in the golf market, he said.

The HVCB also will put more effort into perfecting its already popular Web site (www.gohawaii.com), as well as developing new Internet marketing strategies. About 250,000 names exist in its marketing database, and the bureau hopes to increase that number.

Familiarization tours for travel agents and better communication with the travel trade industry as a whole are also high on the HVCB's list of priorities, said Monahan.

Formerly in charge of marketing Hawaii to the world, the HVCB now will concentrate on leisure travelers from North America, along with the global conventions and meetings-and-incentives market.

The HVCB unveiled its plans along with the Hawaii Tourism Authority's new marketing contractors, who also presented their tactics for the coming year.

In Europe, where almost all travel is booked through agents, the Magnum Group will try to sell Hawaii as a "dream destination" and raise awareness about diversity in the islands.

In Asia and Central and South Pacific, handled by Marketing Garden and the Walshe Group, respectively, priorities include easing visa restrictions and increasing direct air service.

Dentsu will take over marketing efforts in Japan, a steadily decreasing source of visitors to Hawaii since 1997.

Dentsu's Takashi Ichikura said that travel agents handle 100% of the business from Japanese visitors. In a campaign designed to reintroduce Hawaii to the seasoned traveler, Dentsu will sell the destination as one that "is full of surprises," said Ichikura.

To contact reporter Katherine Nichols, send e-mail to [email protected].

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