More than 100 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Hawaii representatives, including general managers and associates from the region’s sales, marketing, revenue and public relations divisions, kicked off a 20-city marketing campaign last week across the U.S., Canada and Australia, promoting travel to the Aloha State while looking to boost sales at the company’s 11 hotels and resorts in the Hawaiian Islands.
Starwood Hawaii plans to meet with more than 3,000 travel professionals and media members in key U.S. and international visitor markets during the blitz in conjunction with a substantial U.S. consumer advertising campaign, according to Cheryl Williams, the regional director of sales and marketing for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Hawaii and French Polynesia.
“We are spending about a half a million dollars on the marketing, whether in print or digital media efforts, to really drive the consumer to keep Hawaii top of mind and to call their travel professional,” she said. “We’re in newspapers, we’re in consumer publications, we’re in digital — we’re in all mediums.”
Williams said Starwood Hawaii reps will be making stops in several cities this week, including Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Chicago, Portland, Seattle and San Francisco, holding large group events for travel agents and meetings planners while also making stops at agencies across the country.
“Really what we want to do is drive incremental demand to Hawaii and our resorts,” Williams said, noting that Starwood Hawaii holds an annual market blitz each year but that the 2014 representative deployment is the division’s largest ever. “We are having a very good year, and we had a very good year last year, but we’re looking to drive more sales.”
Asked if her company was impacted by the decline in arrivals and spending by U.S. visitors across the Aloha State during the second half of 2013, a trend of monthly year-over-year declines outlined in the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) data released earlier this year, Williams said Starwood Hawaii saw a downtick from American travelers.
“We did see a little bit less demand in the second half of the year,” she explained. “But we still had a really good year. Really, how the air seats go is how our business flows, so whenever there’s a little cutback in air seat capacity, you do see a little bit less demand.”
Williams said U.S. demand has been solid thus far in 2014, and Starwood’s Hawaii properties are seeing occupancy rates ranging from 80% to 95%.
“But we’d like to see more demand,” she added. “And so that’s why we’re really amping up our efforts.”
Starwood Hawaii is also now touting its recently launched “Pursue Your Paradise” promotion for both leisure and business travel at its hotels and resorts, offering participating guests a resort credit of up to $1,000 that can be used for dining, spa treatments, room upgrades or property adventure activities and cultural programs. For more about the Starwood Hawaii promotion, visit www.pursueyourparadise.com