[INSIDE HAWAII INC.]
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Paul Dyson, vice president of marketing and sales for the USS Missouri Memorial Association, says he wants to bring more awareness to the battleship and to remind people that the ship is best known as the site where the Japanese surrendered to the Allies on Sept. 2, 1945, to mark the end of World War II.
USS Missouri exec facing marketing battle
Paul Dyson says he wants to attract more Japanese and kamaaina to the ship
Question: What does your new job entail?
Answer: A combination of a lot of things. The advertising is one piece of it. We advertise in various magazines. We advertise not only for coming to the memorial but we also do special events at the memorial, so we also do meetings and events there. Along with that, we market to the four basic markets: The military, the kamaaina, the eastbound visitors, and the westbound.
New job: He has become vice president of marketing and sales for the USS Missouri Memorial Association, which oversees the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor.
Old job: Dyson most recently was the general manager of Atlantis Cruises after joining Atlantis Adventures in 1993.
Dyson was an active-duty member of the U.S. Coast Guard for 12 years and served another 14 years as a member of the Coast Guard Reserves. He served as an engineer for the U.S. Pacific Command at Camp Smith before retiring from the reserves as a lieutenant commander in 2002.
Each one takes a different type of marketing. The kamaaina, even though they're very familiar with the vessel and there was lots of excitement when it came, they occasionally need to be reminded that it's here.
The westbound market: A lot of people who come here don't know that we're here and the same with the Japanese. Also what we want to do is get out to the public what the Missouri is known for, and the most famous thing that it's known for is that the end of World War II was on this vessel, that the allied forces accepted the surrender of the Japanese. At that one time, the world's focus was on the decks of the Missouri. Another piece of it is that it has been a long time since World War II. History -- if people don't visit and relearn it -- starts to disappear, and so as the World War II veterans become fewer and fewer we will reintroduce that part of history to the public.
Q: How big are your different markets?
A: The visitor market is the majority of the people who come. The total westbound tourist market is 90 percent, Japanese is 4 percent, military 3 percent, kamaaina 3 percent. That's just paying customers. We also have a large number of military people who come on board for different ceremonies. We do all of those free of charge.
Q: What are your plans?
A: I'd like to look at those smaller numbers that we've got such as the kamaaina. It's part of the mission and vision of the association to be able to share this history with those people, and so whether it's through educational programs or military appreciation programs, we'd like to reintroduce the Missouri there.
I'd also like to work on the Japanese market because we have a low penetration there.
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Paul Dyson stands in front of three towering gun barrels on the USS Missouri.
Why is that?
A: I was at a lecture recently at the USS Bowfin. There was a Japanese professor who had been with the East-West Center. He had done a study on what the Japanese think when they go to the Mighty Mo. The majority of Japanese who came there didn't know the history. They know places and dates ... but they don't know any of the details. When they go there it's quite an amazing thing to them. It's quite a surprise. ... When the Japanese surrendered here, it wasn't just so much the defeat of the military; it was the end of an era and the beginning of another one.
Q: How would you market the Missouri to the Japanese?
A: That is something that would need to be addressed delicately. There are a lot of people who are very uncomfortable with the Japanese coming over and visiting Pearl Harbor. There's also Japanese feelings that this is where we (the Japanese) surrendered at the end of the war. I think instead of looking at it that way: These two societies, cultures, nations, they fight at this point, and from then on, it was the start of a new future. As long as you look at it that way, it's worthwhile for the Americans and the Japanese to share that history. The ceremony was shared history of both our nations; it wasn't only our history.
Q: What was it like, running Atlantis Cruises in the aftermath of 9/11 on the dip in tourism?
A: I took over as GM right after 9/11 for the Navatek. At the time, business was very, very slow, but it was a decision by Ron Williams, our CEO, that we were not going shut down, we were not going to stop operations, that it was a time instead to keep the business alive. A lot of companies shut their doors for a while but we just ran a regular operation, we tried to do it as efficiently as possible, and I think it was an excellent decision. When the tourists came back, we were in the right place to continue operations.
Q: Last word?
A: Sept. 2 is coming up, which is the 61th anniversary of the surrender and so we have open to the public in the morning a ceremony that we have every year. We have a keynote speaker, Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Leaf, deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Command, that's 8:45 to 9:45am.
With the addition of the new Pacific Aviation Museum, the Pearl Harbor area is becoming a complete destination for tourists, with all four attractions, the museum, the Arizona, the Mighty Mo, and the Bowfin.
Inside Hawaii Inc. is a weekly conversation with business and community leaders. Suggestions can be sent to email@example.com.