Hawaii exists in time and in space for historians and geologists, but for visitors it exists in the imagination and in memory. It is America's paradise. At once exotic and familiar, it beckons like no other U.S. destination. It lures the inexperienced traveler, the casual tourist and the adventurer as well as honeymooners, families on a budget, millionaires. For this special supplement Travel Weekly commissioned new research on consumer perceptions about Hawaii from the global research firm TNS. The Hawaii Tourism Authority also agreed to share recent data from an ongoing tracking study, also by TNS.
Together, these research reports help to clarify our understanding of the unique ways in which Hawaii is perceived and appreciated by different travelers and prospective travelers.
One overriding theme that emerges from these columns of numbers is that Hawaii, in the imagination of those who have not visited, is a slightly different place than the Hawaii that exists in the memory of those who have. Like any special and unique place, Hawaii has a transforming effect on the visitor.
For suppliers and travel sellers alike, understanding that transformation could be the key to bringing more first-time and repeat visitors to the islands, to enhancing their experiences and memories, enhancing the destination itself.
For example, our research showed that only 40% of those who have not visited Hawaii, regard it as a value destination. But among those who have visited, that figure rises to 61%.
Among those who have never visited, fewer than half believe that Hawaii has something for every pocketbook. But among those who have been there, that figure rises to 65%.
Because not even paradise can sell itself to all of the people all of the time, insights such as these could prove invaluable to industry marketers.
It is our hope that you find many more in the pages that follow.
Dear Travel Professional:
Hawaii is on track to host a record number of visitors this year -- a sure sign of success for any destination. Judging from the numbers, and from Hawaiis historically high guest satisfaction rating, Hawaiis tourism officials, as well as its suppliers and their travel agents, are all doing something right.
That makes it the right time, maybe the perfect time, for research that will look behind the numbers and help us all learn more about what makes this destination so special in the minds and hearts of travelers.
For this task Travel Weekly asked TNS, the global research firm that produces the annual American Traveler Survey, to undertake a brief survey of a select group of consumers about their perceptions of Hawaii.
The results are summarized in this special supplement, along with some recent findings from a multi-year tracking study that TNS undertakes for the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
Among other things, the data confirms that Hawaii, for all its appeal, remains a tantalizing dream for many potential visitors, particularly in the eastern U.S. This presents familiar challenges to marketers: educating the consumer, overcoming resistance and closing the sale -- not just now when business is good, but in the future when travelers may be distracted by inflation, energy costs or other deterrents to travel.
We believe that ongoing research is one of the critical tools needed to meet these challenges, and we are happy to share these results with all readers who have a stake in the success of Americas special destination, Hawaii.
Vice President & Publisher