Clairfy Hawaii's Business Marketing Message Now

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A recent Honolulu Advertiser story about Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism’s newly appointed director, Ted Liu’s, plan for raising money to “market Hawaii as a business destination,” illustrates the challenge of the task.

The public/private partnership Liu proposed calls for $5 million to seed the business marketing effort. Collaborating organizations were positive about the plan.


Rex Johnson, director of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, was quoted as agreeing with the effort to “market the state as a home for business.”

Both Liu and Johnson’s remarks expose what appear to be inconsistent goals. Liu uses the phrase, market Hawaii as “a business destination,” where as Johnson uses a phrase with different meaning, market Hawaii as “a home for business.”

Now is the time to get very clear on what it means to “market Hawaii as a ‘business destination’.” There are many issues at stake in how we characterize Hawaii’s business image. Competing goals are at the heart of the matter. Can all the stakeholders cooperate in coming up with one consistent message?

The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau and Hawaii Tourism Authority camp would like to see more business people choose Hawaii as a home for their business meetings. Their focus is to attract the business traveler and conventioneers to Hawaii to do business with each other, not necessarily to do business with Hawaii businesses.

Their marketing message is: Hawaii is the cross roads of the Pacific, a great place to meet and “do business.”

The Enterprise Honolulu mission is to assist businesses that want to locate or re-locate to Oahu. Their goal is to educate business owners outside of Hawaii about Oahu as a place to locate their business. Their marketing message is: “