Hawaii Honeymoon: Q&A with David Preece

David Preece, Vice President/North America Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau discusses the importance of honeymoon and romance travel to Hawaii with contributing editor Robin Amster.

TW: What is the scope of the honeymoon market to Hawaii?

Preece: Westbound honeymoon arrivals to Hawaii -- this represents primarily North America, although it does include South America as well -- are about 270,000 per year. We've seen steady growth in this market over the past five years. This 270,000 compares to the total number of visitors from the westbound market of approximately four million for 1998.

When we consider the overall market, though, we call it the romance market because it's really broader than just honeymoon couples. Along with honeymooners, the romance segment includes bridal parties for couples who have their wedding as well as their honeymoon in the islands, as well as people celebrating other romantic occasions like an anniversary.

TW: How then do you market to these lifestyle and life-stage niches, including the romance market?

Preece: We identify seven or eight lifestyle or life-stage niches that we consider as supplements to our general marketing program. We have a variety of marketing initiatives targeted to these segments. For honeymooners we have specific information on our Web site, and in our destination planner we have a special section on honeymoon travel. We also have a broad, integrated marketing program with one of the bridal magazines, Modern Bride, which includes advertising, advertorials, Internet promotions and participation in bridal fairs around the country.

For travel agents, we have information to help them help their honeymoon clients. This includes identifying the suppliers of products and services. Some suppliers position their products within HVCB programs like our advertising program.

Our research shows that 72% of all people planning a honeymoon have consulted a travel agent. This illustrates the opportunities agents have for being an information source and for packaging programs for honeymooners.

TW:How would you characterize Hawaii as a honeymoon and romance destination?

Preece: Hawaii is almost always named as a top honeymoon destination in surveys and its popularity is growing. Hawaii's imagery is so closely associated with being romantic. And the fact that it is part of the U.S. is another selling advantage. Hawaii is very safe, especially for people who, like many honeymooners, are not experienced travelers. We have the same traffic laws, the same currency and other factors that make for a great comfort level, which enhances the destination's natural beauty.

TW: How do each of the Hawaiian islands stack up in terms of their share of the honeymoon market?

Preece: The latest figures we have are for 1997. When asked the island they considered most popular, 60% of honeymooners chose Maui, 55% chose Oahu, 30% chose Kauai and 18% chose the Big Island.

There is also some overlap in these figures. Our research also shows that 53% of honeymooners go to one island only, while 47% travel to more than one island, and that the average age of people visiting Hawaii for a honeymoon or destination wedding is 32, compared to 43 for the average age of all other visitors to Hawaii.

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