Restaurateurs’ self-promotion is welcome and easy
The Hawaii Restaurant Association has a new online dining guide to help members publicize eateries for free to generate foot traffic -- and revenue.
MyAlohaVibe.com went live in January and its content has been slowly growing, hitting 100 HRA member pages yesterday. It won't be officially unveiled until the Hawaii Lodging, Hospitality & Foodservice Expo in July.
Nevada-based software company VibeWare LLC was enlisted to create the guide, linked on the HRA Web site.
"It's a MySpace for restaurants," said VibeWare founder and owner Steve Sue, who spends about half his time in Hawaii.
HRA encourages members, via MyAlohaVibe, to "take control of your online image," Sue said.
MyAlohaVibe allows members to easily post and update their own content and upload pictures and video.
Videos are hosted free by YouTube, which also drives traffic to MyAlohaVibe.
The first one, for RumFire, got about 1,000 hits its first month, Sue said. "That's pretty good traffic for something that's not been promoted."
Many a restaurant has a great Web site, but "how does anyone find their way to it?" he said.
"HRA provides a lot of linkage. They don't want to maintain a restaurant guide, but they get a lot of travelers Googling 'Hawaii restaurants'," and the HRA Web site tops the search results.
Amazon.com uses keywords and "clickstream behavior," whereas VibeWare creates "a personality profile based on aspirations," Sue said, to help users get what they desire and it can match products across categories.
Many Internet dining guides "are yellow page-type listings," lacking enticing food pictures and interest-building descriptions, he said.
Indeed, TheBuzz found disappointment in other restaurant associations' online dining guides. Most results are pop-up boxes of text, often without even links to the restaurants' Web sites.
For HRA, the dining guide price was right. VibeWare is doing it for free.
"Our benefits are beyond this. If we are able to make this thing work on its own, then we'll be able to license this technology," Sue said.
VibeWare does offer copy writing and photo services for members at low cost and may add other paid options such as a blog, a calendar or recipe uploads.
VibeWare's ultimate use would be for a city search guide to help people easily find experiences including dining, shopping, activities and attractions, he said.
Until then, "Our goal is to get tourists to preview great eating places before they come," he said.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org