Convention center offers cut rates
Groups booking this year can save 50 percent and gain $50,000 in services
While Hawaii's hotel room rates keep rising, meeting planners can still get a break on Hawaii Convention Center space and other visitor services if they book before the end of 2007.
With a plethora of new convention centers and meeting destinations flooding an already com- petitive market around the nation, the Hawaii Convention Center -- which turned heads in 2005 when it offered free rent -- has rolled out another discount campaign, this time in concert with the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.
The convention center is offering 50 percent off its rate card and $50,000 in destination services for new bookings made by Dec. 31, 2007. Meanwhile, HVCB is hosting a contest that will give three winners complimentary accommodations and reduced fees for event services and venues statewide.
These deals will be rolled out this weekend at the Meeting Professionals International's (MPI) Professional Education Conference in New Orleans. Dallas-based MPI is the meeting industry's largest association, with 21,000 members and 68 chapters and clubs worldwide.
MPI is a great source for booking new business meetings, said Adele Tasaka, HVCB's senior director of accounts and past president of MPI's Aloha Chapter.
The arrival of more than 2,500 meeting planners and suppliers for the convention meeting is expected to give Hawaii the exposure it needs in the coming years, she said.
"This is our initial promotion of 2007, and we have every island covered," Tasaka said.
Tasaka said that over the next several months, HVCB will host a series of regional promotional events with several MPI chapters nationwide.
Joining the HVCB sales team in New Orleans will be representatives from its four island chapter bureaus, the Hawaii Convention Center, Pacific Destination Services, Prince Resorts Hawaii and Turtle Bay Resort & Spa.
At the event, HVCB and HCC members also will promote a Web site, BusinessAloha.com, targeted at meeting planners.
BusinessAloha.com offers clients an interactive event-planning timeline, information about cost savings and tips about travel, accommodations and meeting venues.
Joe Davis, general manager of the Hawaii Convention Center, said the aim is to make it as easy as possible for meeting planners to book events here.
The new Web site is intended to set Hawaii apart as a meeting destination in a competitive industry, said John Monahan, president of the HVCB.
"Last year was the most difficult year that we had for booking leads," Monahan said. "The competition is fierce. There is a lot of meeting space across the country and a lot of people are trying to sell that space."
Although the HVCB finished 2006 slightly above 2005 levels in leads for isle meetings, Hawaii's rising hotel room rates made it a more difficult sell, he said.
Barbara A. Bohmann, a senior meeting manager for the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, said that the market should respond positively to the new Web site, which offers planners one-stop shopping.
Bohmann described the new Web site as "a very good representation of the HCC, HVCB and the business community working together toward a goal of information on Hawaii as a business venue, not just a vacation location."
"The site now sends a serious business message," said Bohmann, who has been bringing groups, ranging from 100 to 7,200, to Hawaii since 1970.