The September 11th attack
Firms offer more kama'aina specials
By Susan Hooper
Advertiser Staff Writer
With the number of out-of-state customers in sharp decline after last week's terrorist attacks, many Hawai'i tourism firms are looking for business in their own back yard.
The Sept. 11 catastrophe on the East Coast reverberated in Hawai'i's largest industry in the form of hotels one-third filled and restaurants serving half the usual number of meals.
In response, some tourism companies are in the process of developing kama'aina specials. Others have settled on their campaigns and are rolling them out this week. Still other tourism firms say their strong local customer base already is propping them up in this difficult time.
"We want to try to get people in here, and obviously if people aren't coming on planes, we need to reach out a little bit more to the kama'aina market," said Paula Imamura, public relations manager with the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa in Waikiki, which usually draws most of its customers from outside the Islands.
After a series of meetings yesterday, Hilton officials developed a package that allows kama'aina guests to stay in the new Kalia Tower or the Rainbow Tower for $99 a night, including free parking and one free in-room movie on demand, Imamura said. The special will run through the first week of October.
Imamura described the rate as "a significant discount" off the regular charge for rooms in either tower.
Marc Resorts' new kama'aina offering gives residents who stay at one of the company's 20 properties every other night free and a kama'aina discount for the paid nights of about 35 percent off the standard retail rate, said Tony Stone, the company's vice president of sales and marketing.
That promotion begins Friday and runs through Dec. 22, he said.
Stone, who has been with Marc Resorts since last fall, said he had already identified the kama'aina market as being key to the company's success. The new kama'aina promotion was in development even before the Sept. 11 attacks, he said.
"We thought this fall was going to be a little bit soft to start with, and, obviously, since the tragedy it's changed things dramatically," he said, adding that he hopes the new kama'aina promotion will both build the Marc Resorts brand name with local customers and fill rooms at the properties.
"I consider it my fiduciary responsibility to try to keep occupancy as high as possible, so I can keep as many people on the payroll as possible," Stone said. "My strategy is to cut prices to the bone to generate a level of business, and hopefully create some momentum and weather the storm with some of my wholesale partners."
The Mauna Kea Resort on Hawai'i's Kohala Coast is in the process of retooling its marketing campaigns to attract more kama'aina, said Aven Wright-McIntosh, the resort's marketing and public relations manager.
The Mauna Kea resort's two properties the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel have long offered specials aimed at local customers, she said.
In light of the new climate of traveler uncertainty that last week's attacks created, however, the resort expects to appeal especially to those Hawai'i residents who may be hesitant to leave home.
"I would say we are increasing our focus on the premise that folks may not want to be traveling to the Mainland," she said.
The renewed focus on local customers is not limited to hotels. Davick Publications said it is delaying its next issue of "The Kama'aina Guide," a bi-monthly magazine targeting the local travel market, as many hotels, restaurants and retail stores talk about adjusting their marketing and advertising efforts after last week's attacks.
The 30,000-circulation free guide launched its first issue in August and was scheduled to mail its next edition Oct. 1. The magazine tells Hawai'i residents about retail discounts available to them in tourist hot spots like Waikiki.
"Many in the travel industry realize the local market is more important than ever to the local visitor industry," said Rick Davis, president of Davick Publications.
Advertiser Staff writer Frank Cho contributed to this story.