Erika Engle

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Pleasant Holidays
uses iPods to lure
isle visitors

ONE of the latest surprising iPod-as-a-premium promotions is from California-based Pleasant Holidays.

Customers who book five nights in the islands between Sept. 5 and Dec. 15 will receive a free iPod Shuffle, if reservations are made by Sept. 30.

The company hasn't done this sort of premium promotion for a long time, "simply because there's not a lot of room in the cost of the packages to cover these things" and remain competitive, said Ken Phillips, staff vice president for corporate communications.

Pleasant Holidays plans heavy promotion of the Hawaii travel and iPod gift with newspaper, radio and Internet advertising as well as other marketing techniques aimed at travelers from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The iPods will be given to customers once they're in Hawaii. They will be loaded with a message thanking the bearers for traveling with Pleasant Holidays -- but they won't come pre-loaded with Hawaiian music for enjoyment while lolling on the beach.

"We don't have any music recorded (on them) because as soon as they plug it in to download music (the songs would) get erased," Phillips said.

The company figures recipients won't be plugging the iPods into computers until they get home, he said.

Betcha there's a bunch of local record companies and music distributors who would have loved to make a pre-load-download deal.

Maybe next time.

Online, not in line

A milestone achieved via the state of Hawaii Web portal, eHawaii.gov, is being ballyhooed to whomever will listen.

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs recently announced that nearly 63 percent of nurses renewed their state of Hawaii professional licenses online, as opposed to in-line and in-person, the old-fashioned way.

This year's figure is nearly double the online renewals of 2003. That figure was more than double the 2001 number.

The national average is 37 percent, according to the nonprofit Center for Digital Government, which tracks such things.

The keys have been the buy-in by the DCCA, "which actively promotes it," and little 3-by-5-inch yellow postcards mailed as renewal reminders, said Dan Morrison, general manager of Hawaii Information Consortium LLC, the company behind eHawaii.gov.

The increasing numbers are proof that the state is "responding appropriately to requests for streamlined access to government services," said Mark Recktenwald, DCCA director.

The DCCA has been a very early adopter, making Hawaii's online renewal adoption rate "the envy of other states," Morrison said.

Well, every state except Utah, which has a 100 percent online renewal rate because the state won't accept any other method.

Hawaii Information Consortium is a Hawaii-incorporated subsidiary of Kansas-based National Information Consortium Inc., which powers 18 states' Web portals.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: eengle@starbulletin.com

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