New travel Web site hits Hawaii
ClubHawaii is looking for locals to share their favorite isle getaways
At Hawaii's newest club, visitors are encouraged to kick back, take in the scenery and local music, and share stories with longtime residents.
And it can all be done in pajamas.
Virtual isle hideaway ClubHawaii.net, set for a formal rollout next week, is the creation of 30-year resident Sheila Rausch, president and chief executive officer of parent company Marele Productions LLC. Rausch said she started developing the site in 2004 after turning 50 and wanting to take more time for isle activities.
SEARCH FOR INSIDERS
ClubHawaii.net is looking for submissions from isle residents to become site "insiders." Candidates must have lived in Hawaii for at least five years and be willing to complete detailed surveys on restaurants or destinations every six months. They take half an hour to complete. Insiders are not paid, but those who complete four or more survey sections by July 27 will be entered to win two roundtrip airfare tickets to a neighbor island. To become an insider survey panelist, call 261-0964 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
"There's so much out there -- thousands of Web sites to look at for individual locations," she said. "What we try to do is pull it all together on one Web site, so you can open it up, sit back, put your feet up, look at the place and start to get excited."
Rausch, who also oversees an anesthesia billing and consulting company, surfed travel Web sites and attended Hawaii Tourism Authority meetings in her research for the site.
ClubHawaii draws on the input of 300 local contributors, or "insiders," and eight travel writers, who review restaurants and write itineraries based on available time, interests and number of travelers. Rausch said she would like to expand the number of insiders -- people who have lived in the state for at least five years with insights into isle activities -- to 1,000, including 500 on Oahu and 100 on neighbor islands.
Rausch and her staff of four, based in Kailua, filter background questionnaires and surveys from contributors to help avoid submissions influenced by outside interests. ClubHawaii doesn't accept paid advertising or have a booking engine, although links offer off-site navigation.
"My end result and goal is for everyone to have a great time and to love Hawaii as we all do and perhaps lighten the load for some of the people who live here," she said.
Access to the site costs $24.95 for six months and $9.95 for each six-month renewal. Visit www.clubhawaii.net for more information.
Rausch declined to provide revenue goals for the site, but said she eventually wants to have more than 10 percent of Hawaii's visitors as members. She is promoting the site next week to businesses and media the mainland and will add two more sites -- a children's and "TikiTalk" newsletter site -- by October.
Oahu travel writer Dawn Yoshimura, who heard about ClubHawaii through a professional contact, has written 13 articles for the site, including itineraries for luxury shopping, Asian art antiquing and sailing.
"How people use the Web site is going to differ," Yoshimura said. "Some people may want the full day laid out for them. Like, 'I'm going to be on the North Shore for the day. What else can I do besides sit on the beach?'"