WAIKIKI -- If you are sitting by the pool at the Aston Waikiki
Beach Hotel, you might notice a kiosk that looks oddly familiar, a
reminder perhaps of the days when you could hop into a photo booth
and get your picture taken.
You wouldn't be too far off.
What you are in fact looking at does turn out photos -- an
online album, even -- that will enable you to share your vacation
with those back home.
Michael Willits, founder and operator of VacationPIX, rents
underwater digital cameras to hotel guests at a cost of $30 for 24
hours. Included in that price is a memory card that can hold up to
When the guest returns the camera to the kiosk, Willits
downloads the images onto a CD and creates an online album
accessible by friends and family anywhere in the world.
"A lot of people are hesitant about digital technology," said
VacationPIX business manager Frank Waters, who has been with the
company since it began operations last August.
"But we take care of the downloading process and all the
technology, so all that is left is for you to share your images
with family and friends."
He will also put the album on the company's Web site.
Willits advertises his services on the Pleasant Hawaiian
Vacations and Aston Waikiki Web sites, and he is in the process of
putting up a banner on the Oahu Visitors Bureau site.
His plans do not cease there, however. Willits wants to set up
kiosks in other Waikiki hotels as well as at Hanauma Bay, the famed
But Willits and his clients aren't the only ones who benefit
from the operation. Each family album he posts on the Web receives
an average of eight unique visitors, "which is great for tourism on
the entire island," he said.
"When your friends see a photo of your child learning to surf,
they want their children to have the opportunity, as well," he
said. "They will look into booking a Hawaii vacation. It's a win
VacationPIX has an agreement with Minolta and uses its Dimage XT
cameras, complete with zoom, flash and other options. Many people
take the camera out of the underwater casing after the sun goes
down and snap photos all evening long, according to Willits.
Next on the agenda, VacationPIX is speaking with tour operators
and travel agencies about alerting their clientele to the
"If word of mouth is your best reference, and a picture is worth
a thousand words, then what is the combined value of a picture?"
Willits asked. "We are going to push the envelope and see. I have a
feeling the possibilities are endless."
For details, call (808) 926-7774 or visit www.vacationpix.com.
To contact the reporter who wrote this story, send e-mail to
[email protected] .