The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau unveils a campaign aimed at reaching higher-spending visitors. Abbey, left, and Megan walked Kalakaua Avenue yesterday with their dad, Colin Aylward.

Chance to host
‘Ellen’ missed

Talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres
could not bring her crew to
the islands because the
planes are too full

Hawaii's visitor industry missed an opportunity to host the season premiere of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" because there weren't enough seats on planes bound for what local officials say has become the mainland's dream vacation.

Tourism officials from the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, which yesterday unveiled a new $1.3 million-plus marketing campaign, said they had no problem selling popular talk-show hostess Ellen DeGeneres on coming to Hawaii for a show. But getting 50 airplane seats to accommodate her staff this month was another story.


Ellen DeGeneres: HVCB officials say they will continue to negotiate with the show host

"There's no doubt about it, Hawaii has become a victim of its own success," said state Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert. Most planes to the islands during June, July and August have been full.

The state welcomed a record 3.6 million visitors during the first six months of this year and is on track for a record finish, Wienert said. "We've been going gangbusters," she said. Arrivals are up 7 percent from 2004.

While HVCB officials said they'll continue to negotiate with DeGeneres, the agency's plight indicates the importance of designing marketing programs that fill planes bound for Hawaii with higher-spending, more-active travelers, said Jay Talwar, HVCB's vice president of marketing.

It's also important to spend marketing dollars on programs that fill seasonal gaps in visitor arrivals that occur in the fall and spring, he said.

The HVCB, a private agency hired by the state to market to North America, said its new campaign is designed to increase the number of higher-spending visitors, especially during gap times.

"The Hawaii Tourism Authority's direction is to attract higher-spending, activity-oriented travelers during the fall and we've created a comprehensive, multimedia campaign addressing that goal," HVCB President John Monahan said.

The campaign's linchpin is a vacation-planning tool kit offered on HVCB's Web site. Travel browsers create their vacation, choosing from 180 activities ranging from surfing to kayaking to hiking to fine dining on all six islands. Potential visitors can enter their itineraries in an online sweepstakes for a giveaway trip to Hawaii.

To better reach high-spending, more-active visitors, the HVCB is targeting its advertising to readers of the Wall Street Journal and viewers of the Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, Outdoor Life Network, National Geographic and the Golf Channel. Web site advertising will run on Forbes.com, Discovery.com, Yahoo, Google, Travelocity and Overture.

HVCB also will begin targeting network television on Aug. 26 when it begins a satellite media tour featuring local recording star Jasmine Trias of "American Idol" fame.

Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau

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