Marketing Hawaii Style

article top

New Zealand has the right stuff. Its marketing experts were able to pull it off .. big Time. Despite lingering war threats and worries, its arrival numbers are steadily on the rise.

Why? It appears it has true marketing experts that know their stuff. The World Travel Organization, WTO, and other major travel research firms have just concluded that war is not so much of concern when it comes to world travel, it’s the economy and security … in that order.


New Zealand was able to pull ahead by promoting itself not only as a beautiful place, but also one of the securest and most desirable travel destinations. This despite war worries. New Zealand called; and visitors came and they continue to come.

What are we doing? Our Aloha State is as beautiful and desirable as New Zealand. Have we made that known … enough?

On Feb. 7, 2003, the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s marketing expert said: “In the event of military action against Iraq, the Hawaii Tourism Authority plans to cancel advertising for two months, as a starting point. Bringing the advertising back, as well as other marketing efforts, will depend on how long a conflict last, and how ”’bloody”’ it gets.”

At the same time the legislators are considering giving the state’s tourism marketing agency as much as $8 million in emergency money if war should break out with Iraq.

On Feb. 12, 2003 the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s chair, Rex Johnson said: “The Hawaii Tourism Authority would like to have the extra revenue, but might not need the entire $8 million. Having those funds on call would be something very helpful to us.”

In January the HTA’s expert on marketing, Frank Haas, announced in the Honolulu Advertiser that he will concentrate on attracting the higher spending visitors to Hawaii.

Prior to 09/11, the German speaking market, one of the higher spending travelers, enjoyed the fourth place in Hawaii’s travel force with 130,000+ arrivals. Are they coming? No one from Hawaii has yet called them. Could it be that our marketing whizzes expect that they read our newspapers and know from there that we want them here?

German speaking visitors enjoy 6 to 7 weeks ”’paid”’ vacation per year. In general that is split in three vacations per year. Data will show that if “only” 100,000 Visitors would set food in our beautiful state in 2003, that would generate $256+ million in revenues … not counting expenditures for shopping and restaurants. And European world travelers are unfazed by economic fluctuations.

What have we done to tell them about Hawaii and on how secured it is even if war breaks out with Iraq? Not much. There is no war on U.S. soil. They will not travel to the Middle East, understandably.

German-speaking visitors chose their travel destinations on availabilities of German-speaking services. Do we have those? No. Hawaii airs daily the “DEUTSCHE WELLE,” a popular German TV station. Can European visitors watch it? No. The hotels won’t make it accessible. Germans love their soccer games, particularly when on vacation. Twice per week, Wednesdays and Saturdays, the German National Soccer League shows two games. Can Germans watch those? No. Can Hawaii afford not to get $256+ million in revenues?

Of course we have to concentrate on travelers from the U.S. mainland and Japan. But we should no longer neglect markets like Europe just because the HTA and Hawaii Visitor and Convention Bureau does not understand how to attract visitors from these markets.

On Jan. 15, 2003, a report in the Honolulu Advertiser said: “Legislators demand better marketing efforts and told the Hawaii Tourism Authority that it is not fulfilling its goal to attract higher spending visitors.”

But despite good sounding speeches and statements by the ones responsible for a $33 million budget on the tourism marketing, nothing is being done. I wonder how much the HVCB is spending on useless office representation? There is the HVCB on Oahu and an Oahu’s Visitor Bureau. We have tried several times to get responses … unsuccessfully. They only call us when they want complimentary services. And we happily comply every time.

It’s time that we get true and independent experts that know their stuff.

Let me close with words from Lincoln.

On Sales: “We must not promise what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what we cannot.”

On Planning: “I will prepare, and some day my chance will come.”

On Excellence: “Man is not the only animal who labors; but he is the only one who improves his workmanship.”

On Management: “You cannot escape the responsibilities of tomorrow by evading it today.”

In Hawaii’s case it is: Tomorrow we start a new life, but don’t wake us up too early.

”’Dieter Thate is owner of Dieter’s Tours and Kimapa Marketing. He can be reached by email at:”’ ”’or visit his Web site at:”’