COURTESY NASHIMOTO & ASSOCIATES
NTT DoCoMo is offering coupons that Japanese visitors can redeem with cell phones in Hawaii.
Japan cell-phone carrier offers e-coupons in isles
Local businesses offer coupons and special offers to Japanese visitors via NTT DoCoMo phones
Japanese mobile-phone operator NTT DoCoMo has added Hawaii to its list of destinations where members can use their cell phones to tap into coupons and special offers.
While using cell phones for commerce in Japan is already commonplace, this is the first time that the trend has been extended to Hawaii, said Ikuho Sakurai, a member of the global service department at DoCoMo.
Some 46 million members of DoCoMo's Premier Club will now have access to discounts and special offers at restaurants and fast food establishments, department stores, hotels and travel agencies throughout Hawaii.
To obtain the discount or special offer, members just need to visit the Premier Club Web site and download coupons to their cell phones, Sakurai said. Dual-band cell phone users, whose phones work in Japan and Hawaii, will be able to download coupons while they are here; the rest can download and save them before they leave Japan, Sakurai said.
"We estimate that as many as 722,000 Japanese visitors to Hawaii are DoCoMo customers -- so the potential for use is high," she said.
DoCoMo launched this program in Japan, Guam and Saipan last year and added Korea in March.
"We are getting pretty good response from customers," Sakurai said. "This has been a popular program."
In Hawaii, 25 vendors at 27 locations are participating in the program. Hawaii vendors range from high-end establishments like 3660 on the Rise and Mandara Spa to more casual options like Kua'Aina Sandwich. Offers range from 10-percent-off deals to value-added benefits that give spenders something extra with a purchase.
The service is a good marketing opportunity for Hawaii businesses who want more access to the Japan visitor market, said Yumi Ozaki, local director of Hawaii Tourism Japan. Since this technology is already readily accepted in Japan, Ozaki said that she's sure it will be popular in Hawaii as well.
"For them, it's like daily life," Ozaki said. "I'm sure our Japanese visitors will use the coupons wisely."
Partnering with DoCoMo is free for qualifying Hawaii businesses, Sakurai said.
"We give them free promotional space on our web site and various promotional space and in return they give offers to our members," she said. "It's good for our customer retention and for theirs."