JCB hails Hawaii incentive program
The Japanese credit card company bucks the arrivals downturn
JCB, Asia's largest credit card company with more than
59 million customers, says it is seeing solid returns from a its incentive marketing partnership with Hawaii Tourism Japan, despite a continuing downturn in Japanese visitor traffic.
The campaign, called the JCB Discover Aloha Hawaii Project, is intended to stem further softening in Hawaii's Japan visitor market, which experienced a 10.2 percent decline in arrivals in 2006.
Last year, 1.37 million visitors came to Hawaii from Japan and spent $2 billion; that's down from the 1.52 million visitors who spent $2.1 billion in 2005.
Local retailers and visitor industry players have called JCB's 2006 initiative a bright spot in a troubled market that has suffered from reduced airline seats and limited hotel availability. It brought 12,000 visitors to Hawaii its inaugural year.
Despite a decline in customer base, last year's campaign netted a 6.3 percent increase in JCB customer spending and a 13.1 percent increase in the number of transactions, said Motoki Hirota, the senior vice president and Honolulu branch manager for JCB International Credit Card Co. Ltd.
"The decline in visitors has made for a difficult situation," Hirota said. "We should not give up. We should combine our strength."
In recent years, more Japa-nese have been coming to Hawaii for weddings, honeymoons, and outdoor sports in addition to vacationing and sightseeing. But destinations in Europe and Asia are drawing from the same pool.
"Looking forward it's still a little shaky," said Carol Pregill, president of Retail Merchants of Hawaii.
JCB's year-long campaign, which starts April 1, offers prizes to Japanese tourists who use their JCB card to fund a trip to Hawaii. Card holders will also be given coupons and free rides on select Waikiki trolley routes.
Media exposure generated by JCB in Japan will help Hawaii Tourism Japan meet its marketing goals and reach bigger-spending tourists, said Anne Murata, marketing director for the Festival Companies, which manages the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center.
"If we can't get people in hotel rooms, we need to get those that are here to spend more," Murata said.