Home > Americas
Related topics: Americas,United States, Venues & Destinations
May 1, 2012

State works to boost Hawaii's meetings appeal

Hawaii is most famous as a leisure destination, but the state is working to increase its appeal for the business market as well. The Hawaii Tourism Authority reported earlier this year that Hawaii's meetings, conventions and incentives market jumped more than 11 percent in 2011 from the year prior.

Mike Murray, vice president sales and marketing at the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau, acknowledges that Hawaii has and always will be a leisure destination. “Business will never surpass leisure,” he says bluntly. But, he adds, the meeting market is growing: Last year, the state saw an 11.2 percent increase in meetings, convention and incentive travel over 2010. Convention business was up 9.5 percent, and corporate meetings were up 17.2 percent. 

One of Hawaii’s core strengths as a business destination is the very thing that makes visitors from the East Coast wary of traveling to the islands: location. “With today’s global economy, Hawaii is at the epicenter of two-thirds of the world—North America and the Pacific Rim,” Murray explains. “We’re at center of commerce for many different trades.” Recently, all of Toyota’s top dealers from the U.S. gathered in Hawaii and met with the top executives from Japan, finding a perfect middle ground in the islands. “The types of groups that meet here are North American companies with affiliations or offices in Asia—or vice versa, like Toyota,” he adds. “Time-wise, you can do business with New York in the morning, and then with Hong Kong in the afternoon.” 

And, of course, Hawaii’s position as a leisure destination doesn’t hurt, either. “When meeting groups come to Hawaii for a tradeshow, more than likely, the delegates will do a pre- or post-stay and bring the family to make a vacation of it,” Murray says. “We serve a dual purpose. You can have a productive meeting, and also do a pre- or post-stay and recharge and rejuvenate. Then you go back to the office revitalized.” 

Last November, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2011 Leaders' Meeting in November drew nearly 20,000 attendees alone. “We were host to 21 world leaders who gathered on Oahu,” Murray recalls. “Dignitaries came here with their entourages.” Making that event work required more than a year of preparation and cooperation among numerous groups. The State Department, federal government, state government, Coast Guard, local police, sheriff's department and even the TSA all worked together to guarantee security and comfort. Of the 400 secret service members who came to ensure safety, two had arrived a year earlier to prepare. But the work paid off, as the 2011 APEC was the only one in history with no arrests of protesters. “The State Department raved about our collaborative efforts,” Murray remembers. 

But not every step was about security. One hotel hosting a delegate flew in a team of chefs from a sister property in the delegate’s country to prepare local food. “Things went flawless,” Murray says. “In a nutshell, it proved to the world that Hawaii, regardless of who you represent, from small to large, can deliver.”  


The Convention Center

In Oahu, Murray says that the $1 billion Hawaii Convention Center (pictured) proved the state’s commitment to meetings and convention business. Last year, the Center hosted nine major international events last year, drawing more than 50,000 attendees from over 100 countries. 

Designed by Hawaii-based architecture firm Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo (WAT&G), the Center evokes the destination with a glass front, historical Hawaiian quilt designs and nature-based motifs. The Center is also within walking distance to more than 25,000 nearby rooms.


The center stretches out over 1.1 million square feet, and is divided into dedicated exhibition space, parking facilities, meeting rooms and ballrooms—each on its own floor. The exhibition hall is more than 200,000 square feet alone, with drive-on floor access. Total meeting space is more than 138,869 square feet across 47 meeting rooms and two theaters with tiered seating. The 35,000-square-foot ballroom is the largest in the state, and there are also 3.5 acres of terraces, lanais and courtyards for outdoor events.

In 2012, the Center will host the annual meetings of the American Association of Orthodontists, with an expected 18,000 attendees, and the American Medical Association in November, with 4,500 attendees. The American Association of Orthodontists will also host events on the neighbor islands.


What do you think of this $type?





   IT&CM China  Caribbean Meeting Incentive Travel Exchange      Gulf Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition EIBTM IBTM IMEX America  IT&CMA IT&CM China IT&CM India Conventa BTC convene  cventMBTMMA 2013 COCAL 

GLOBAL AGENCY PARTNERS                                                                                           OFFICIAL TRADE SHOW PARTNER FOR THE UK MEETINGS MARKET 

MCI Ovation Euromic