Between the two of them, Oahu and Kauai offer just about everything anyone could want from a meeting destination in Hawaii. Cosmopolitan Oahu boasts the excitement and cultural richness of a mid-Pacific hub, while laid-back Kauai is the very essence of an idyllic tropical paradise.
What they both have in common are state-of-the-art hotels, visitor resources and off-site venues that are conducive for realizing just about any meeting objective. Whether it’s accomplishing business goals, learning new concepts, finding inspiration, forging connections or motivating the team, Oahu and Kauai are ready for the task.
Last November, Oahu took the global spotlight as world political and business leaders gathered in Waikiki for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference. Possibly the most significant meeting in Hawaiian history, it proved to be a testament that the state is more than just a pretty resort destination, according to Mike Murray, vice president, sales and marketing, corporate meetings and incentives for the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau (HVCB).
“We received great feedback on how well the conference went, especially from the security perspective, which is so important to a high-profile event like this,” Murray says. “President Obama, who hosted APEC, said that Hawaii had delivered just as he knew it would.”
For the HVCB, the success of the meeting means strong reinforcement of its ongoing effort to present Hawaii as a setting for serious, high-level conferences.
“Our goal is to reposition Hawaii’s business side, and ultimately we will use [APEC] as a case study so that planners will be compelled to think of Hawaii as a serious place for meetings,” Murray says.
APEC also illustrated the suitability of Oahu as a site for international conventions, something that is already evidenced by the type of association business attracted to the Hawaii Convention Center, according to Murray. In particular, groups that want to encourage attendance from Asia are able to do so, he says.
“There’s a comfort level here for Asian delegates because we’re so diverse and have a strong Asian heritage,” he says. “Along with the ease of arriving here, they will find that hotels have multi-language room service menus, that there are taxi drivers and others who speak Mandarin.”
In the years leading up to APEC, billions of dollars were invested in the revitalization of Waikiki, resulting in a destination that is not only drawing corporate and association groups, but also seeing an increase in incentive business.
“There’s a transformation that has taken place in Waikiki over the past several years, everything from the sidewalks to the hotels, so that planners are now seeing Oahu as a great incentive destination—much more so than in the past,” Murray says.