When it comes to travel destinations, there are few that inspire as much wanderlust as the islands of Hawaii. Jay Talwar, Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau‘s (HVCB) Chief Marketing Officer, has the task of showcasing each island’s distinct personality while also promoting the full Hawaii experience.

One of the best ways to do this is through the real stories of real travelers and residents of the Islands. With #LetHawaiiHappen, HVCB is doing exactly this by collecting and sharing photos shared by visitors and using geolocation to show where on the island each moment occurred, powered by Chute.


We were able to chat with Jay about his experience and strategy crafting this campaign! Read the interview below.

Q: What do you see as the most important social platforms for travel and tourism? Why?
A: Telling the Hawaii story through personal stories and images may be one of the most effective ways we promote our destination, and social media platforms are an effective avenue for communicating these directly with our audience. We’re enhancing our strategies on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube and will be focusing on still and video imagery to capture both potential visitors and our current fans’ imaginations to further engage them in our brand conversations.

We’re fortunate that the Hawaiian Islands are picturesque year-round; we’ve seen so many of our visitors and residents share their favorite moments throughout our islands across every single day of the calendar. Tied to this is the ease with which social media allows friends and family to share their experiences and most importantly their recommendations, either tacitly or explicitly. This is important to us as we’ve seen those recommendations are an incredibly strong motivating factor for friends, families and colleagues when they select their next vacation spot.


Q: Can you share a bit about the philosophy behind GoHawaii’s social strategy?
A: Aligned with our overall marketing strategy, our social engagements are geared to unveil experiences in Hawaii that include the familiar iconic locales and activities on each island, but go beyond those to the many places, activities and experiences that are lesser-known with the goal of inspiring and motivating our potential and repeat visitors to plan their next vacation in the Hawaiian Islands.

Q: How do you measure success for social?
A: For HVCB, engagement is our measurement for success because it shows our fans have connected with our content and are willing to share it with their family and friends.

Q: What is the biggest hurdle travel and tourism marketers will face in 2015? Biggest opportunity?
A: Travelers are constantly feeling limited; limited in time to investigate travel options, limited in budget, limited in time to travel with, and limited knowledge of the places that will absolutely provide the experience they desire. Combined with this is their desire to experience something that their peer group has not yet experienced, even if they’ve already been to that destination. They want to go home and share a story that earns them a “merit badge” within that group. Along their personal investigative path, they are looking to engage in conversations that lead them to discover the destination that fills their next vacation occasion’s needs, and our job is to be in that conversation so they discover all there is to know about the Hawaiian Islands.

Not surprisingly, we’re sure, is that we feel the biggest opportunity is with video. This is an area where we’ve increased our efforts as more and more travelers are looking at video content on their journey of discovery for their next vacation destination.

Q: Can you talk about the premise of the #LetHawaiiHappen campaign?
A: The best parts of traveling in Hawaii are oftentimes those unplanned moments within the “planned” vacation. That list of well-known, iconic Hawaii spots is a must for every itinerary, but the special, unplanned moments visitors experience as they wander from the suggested route are quite often the most memorable. Hawaii is a place where visitors can go with the flow, stumble on unexpected spots, and experience wonderful unpredictable moments.

As part of this campaign, we’ve harnessed all the social content that visitors and residents have been developing and sharing from across the Hawaiian Islands through #LetHawaiiHappen, which shows the different experiences a visitor can partake in while they’re here. Chute allows us to aggregate all the images and videos to inspire our potential and repeat visitors.

Q: How has the response been to the campaign?
A: Still in its early days, the response has been great while we continue to build upon the hashtag campaign. The campaign makes it easy for our residents and visitors to get involved, and we’ve found it to be beneficial to our partners across all of the Hawaiian Islands.

Q: Are there highlights or anything you’d be able to share about your experience using Chute so far?
A: By making our searches broader than the campaign hashtag, we’ve been able to discover new images to feature while soliciting those users to start using our hashtag. This helps us engage with a broader relevant audience and further the reach of our marketing program.

New to hashtag campaign? Download the Hashtag Guide here!

About The Author

Monica is a book hoarder and gets overexcited about community-driven marketing. She lives in New York City and dreams of a day when a landlord will let her have a cat.

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