Japan travel portal taps isle publisher for content
HAWAII-BASED publishing company Wincubic.com Inc.
has scored quite the coup, being selected as the content provider for a new Hawaii-focused Yahoo!
travel portal for Japan.
Wincubic is working with Japan-based Tavigator Inc., a sort of Japanese Expedia that is a joint venture between Yahoo!Japan and Japan Travel Bureau, said Hajime "Jim" Ueno, president of Wincubic and chief editor of Aloha Street magazine. The Oahu Visitors Bureau is also a content partner, he said.
Yahoo!Japan previously has featured different destinations for limited periods, but its Hawaii special last summer sold so many travel packages, officials decided to create a permanent Hawaii-focused site.
Wincubic's Aloha Street supported the short-term special as well, providing 100 pages of articles and more than 100 featured shops, restaurants and coupons. "Japanese travelers like coupons," Ueno said.
Wincubic has competitors, but Ueno believes one reason it was chosen is "because our Web site is database-oriented" and includes data on 5,000 hotels, restaurants, shops, activities and attractions. That means the Yahoo! people would not have to reinvent the wheel.
"Maybe it's about the magazine too, the magazine's quality," Ueno said. "If you have something you can touch, and browse, it's a little bit different from an Internet company."
Receiving nearly 3 million page views each month, Aloha Street is one of the best-known Japanese-language, Hawaii-travel Web sites, Ueno said. It has 60,000 registered users who receive weekly e-newsletters.
Separately, Wincubic introduced "Aloha Park," a social networking site, two weeks ago -- and it already has 5,000 users.
It is not another message board for Japan-based fans of Hawaii. Rather, it is a MySpace-type site for hard-core, multiple-repeat visitors from Japan.
Mixi, the MySpace of Japan, has 6 million members and "of course they have Hawaii content in there, but ... we didn't see depth or quality of information," being exchanged, Ueno said.
Aloha Park-goers "all love Hawaii," he said. "They have been here at least once, but most likely half of them have come here over 6 times, or 10 times, so they are huge Hawaii fans."
While Aloha Street users have regularly participated in surveys providing valuable feedback to visitor industry players, Aloha Park promises to provide another wealth of information, unsolicited, but searchable.
"Most (Aloha Park members) are in Japan, but they write about Hawaii every day," Ueno said. "We couldn't imagine this happening."
Members' writings are a potential gold mine as the posts can be analyzed for frequently occurring keywords, for instance.
Some data you can't get from research, "but by seeing what they are talking about in real time, maybe you can feel it," Ueno said. "You don't have to do a focus group, they're doing it right in front of you."
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: email@example.com