Prevue May/June 2015 - (Page 16)

bureau buzz Meet Hawaii is Selling "Only in Hawaii" Incentive Experience The best way to help meeting planners legitimize the spend required to organize a program in Hawaii is by actually getting them on a plane to Hawaii. Rooftop event at the Hawaii Convention Center F or planners who visit the islands, the conversion ratio jumps from around 40 to 80 percent, explains Brian Lynx, VP of meetings, conventions & incentives at Meet Hawaii, part of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. "From what we're gathering from planners and clients, they're coming here because they find the destination to be inspiring," says Lynx. "We've also heard comments from planners that Hawaii is such a creative environment that helps them promote creative thinking within their companies, which we think is really interesting. It also allows people to focus better, and gives them a fresh point of view when they're doing it." To further promote the island's inspirational setting, Meet Hawaii is building an all-new website scheduled to launch in the fall with in-depth experiential content and integrated social media. One of the primary motivating factors behind this is to better delineate the specific meeting infrastructure and incentive environments for each island. "Every Hawaii experience is different so we promote essentially six different islands with six different experiences," says Lynx. "Planners now are looking for those authentic or, what we call, 'Only in Hawaii' experiences that can't be found anywhere else. Planners tell us that's what leaves a really lasting impression for attendees." Business is trending upward significantly for the first half of 2015. Incentive attendance is up 8.2 percent over last year's numbers, which came in around 147,000 attendees. Anyone who thinks Hawaii isn't doing well on the incentive side is misinformed, because both 2013 and 2014 figures are higher than 2007, which everyone benchmarks as "the glory days" before the recession and incentive industry meltdown. Helping fuel that continued growth, 170 FICP planners convened on Hawaii Island late last year for an annual event, and all of the responses so far have been positive. Lynx says the show produced 35 leads for the DMO, which they weren't expecting to that degree, and the exposure for the islands from hosting such a high-profile event has been enormous. "FICP was a huge deal," emphasizes Lynx "It was a pretty incredible show and the planners just couldn't stop talking about it. We're thinking we should hold more specific industry events here in Hawaii." He adds that incentive programs are evolving in general over the last two years, with more ROI and educational content integrated into their agendas. Groups are starting to expand their time in-destination to 5+ nights to experience more of the Hawaiian culture away from the busier tourist-heavy environments. In the past, RFP requests for cultural and educational experiences have always been in the top 15 priorities among planners, but Lynx says it's now always in the top five. "I just came back from the Imiloa Astronomy Center at Hilo with an international group of contractors, and they were blown away," says Lynx. "They had some amazing astronomy experiences and star gazing at the top of Mauna Kea. It's really a world-class facility." Meet Hawaii also has strong ties to the University of Hawaii, which works with visiting groups to restore the Kiholo Fish Pond on Hawaii Island. Hawaiian EDventure also operates as part of the Hawaii University at Hilo Conference Center, which offers a wide array of culturally immersive group programs themed around science, nature, food, sports, history and more. "They really again help the attendees discover the 'real' Hawaii," says Lynx.-Greg Oates 16 | prevue magazine 16-17_BBuzz.indd 16 4/22/15 12:16 PM 15449 -

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Prevue May/June 2015

Planner’s Pick: South Africa
Fresh Meets: Sheraton Expands in China
Bureau Buzz: Meet Hawaii
Good Business: Accor on Gender Equality
Sea Shores: Windstar Cruises
Experience Luxury
On Location: Destination Resorts
On Location: Northeast Florida
On Location: Iberostar Playa Mita
On Location: Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
Checkout: Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall & Zilara Rose Hall

Prevue May/June 2015