Center’s handover
used to market it

The HVCB wants to
get the word out to groups
that book conventions

By Russ Lynch
Star-Bulletin

The Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau is using today's formal handover ceremony at the Hawaii Convention Center as an opportunity to get in some fast, and it hopes effective, marketing.

The HVCB, responsible for long-term bookings at the $350 million center, started by inviting representatives of mainland trade magazines whose readers organize meetings, conventions and incentive tours.

They were to be on hand for the formal presentation of the key to the convention center to Gov. Ben Cayetano this afternoon. Sandra Butler-Moreno, vice president in charge of the HVCB's meetings and conventions division, said the idea is to ram home the message that the center is finished and ready to take bookings.

"We're videoing the ceremony and there will be a direct mailing to the entire client universe on the mainland," she said. "It's really to show the entire market universe that we're up and ready to go."

Butler-Moreno said some 1,100 mailings will go out to persons in a position to book future events at the center. Included will be the HVCB's basic convention center marketing packet and the video.

"We've invited the meetings-trade press. The point is of course to get articles from them on the beauty of the center," Butler-Moreno said. Staffers from 11 publications such as Association Management, Meeting News, Business Travel News and Expo are here for the ceremony.

Also in town, looking at the convention center as well as hotels and other facilities, are representatives of the International Association of Lions Clubs.

The Lions' organization was the first to book a big convention, making its commitment all the way back in April 1995, some four months before ground was broken for the convention center.

Some 30,000 members and guests of the Lions are expected for their convention in June 2000, using at least 9,000 hotel rooms.

The Lions are having an international board of directors meeting at the Sheraton-Waikiki this week, and the group's five top executives were expected to attend today's ceremony.

Pat Cannon, Lions International spokesman, said the Lions chose Hawaii early because of assurances from government and the visitors bureau that the center really would be built.

"We were here in 1983. From what I recall, the facilities were minimal. I think they would have thought long and hard before coming here again (without a convention center)," he said.

Cannon said the Lions don't expect any trouble finding enough hotel rooms but they really need a lot of space for exhibits and the big plenary sessions of their convention and the convention center provides that in one place.




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