Hawaii Social

Kaanapali Maui Honua Kai Resort
Kaanapali Maui Honua Kai Resort (Photo credit: Dave Dugdale)

I was sitting on a beautiful lanai in the breeze of the cooling afternoon trade wind, at the Honua Kai resort just two weeks ago, jotting down notes for this long overdue post. I was thinking about how well the businesses and people in Hawaii have tuned in to social media. This should not surprise me, especially knowing how Hawaii quickly took to SMS and had one of the highest engagement levels with text-based programs like American Idol when I worked in the mobile industry.

Over the last three years, in our trips to Hawaii, I’ve seen the digital footprints of resorts, small local brands, and local shops grow. They are not just using Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook to broadcast out, but are also using the social web to make a connection with the customer on a personal level.  While on our family vacation, I had the opportunity to have a “talk story” session with Jill Mayo (@JillzBeanz)  who not only drives Social Marketing for several local brands and resort, but is also a hub of IRL—in real life—connections.

Although to Jill the adoption seems slow, to me it seems faster than the mainland. Small businesses are making effective use of Foursquare to drive offers and highlight events. Twitter is used to connect with customer on a hyper-local level to raise awareness around services and goings-on with the brand or resort property. The Honua Kai, for example, leverages their @HonuaKai handle to broadly converse about the resort and share information, and they manage a concierge only handle (@HKConcierge) to raise awareness around concierge services, share local events, and connect with guests one-on-one. This is quite a nifty idea and I wish others would adopt this hyper-local approach. Honua Kai’s marketing manager, Darren McDaniel, is doing a great job curating not only “traditional” kinds of hotel-related content but is also curating the stories of guests, and connecting the online experience with real life.

Jill believes that local brands in Hawaii are still experimenting and there is room for greater engagement. I fully agree. But I am also excited by the spirit of experimentation and not having pre-set ideas about how Social Marketing can drive loyalty. After all, the best sales person is the one that is not working for you; she is the advocate—the one whom others trust to give them the unadulterated skinny.

I like what Jill had to say about taking the brand breaking the fourth wall to connect in the real world and drive unique experiences that foster loyalty and advocacy. Perhaps it’s the fact that in Hawaii the spirit of ohana (family, in an extended sense of the term) allows the opportunity to take a simple 140 character message and make a connection on a human level.

Wouldn’t be cool if we could all get together next year for a Social Marketing conference on Maui? Let me or @JillzBeanz know.

Full disclosure: my wife and I stay at the Honua Kai and actively compete on becoming the mayor on Foursquare the moment we land.

Some interesting handles to follow in no particular order:

Aloha and Maui No Ka Oi

A Missed Local Opportunity- Is Valpak still relevant?

Recently, I opened the blue Valpak envelope that arrives in my mailbox regularly. To tell you the truth, I had not opened one in years; it went straight to the recycle bin. This time around what caught my eye was the QR code on the envelope that promised more offers if I snapped it. I did, and it landed me on a generic Teleflora offer.

I did open the envelope and looked inside. Some good coupons from local restaurants, but no place that we regularly go. There were some OK services offers from plumbing to carpeting, but nothing that moved me to take action.

What most people don’t know is that Valpak is sometimes run by a franchisee locally, rather than from a national headquarters.  To be clear, I have no idea how that relationship works or the mechanics around how Valpak runs operates this model. But what I do know is that I expected local offers when I snapped the QR code with my phone. It was the QR code that got me to engage with the envelope after all these years.

Valpak is still relevant.  After all, they did get me to open the envelope. However, they completely missed the mark by not leveraging the unique features offered by QR codes to present hyper-targeted, local offers down from zip code level to the nearest shops to my phone’s location. One last thing; by effectively integrating mobile into the flow of direct mail offers, there is the opportunity of increasing the pass-along effect by making the offer portable on mobile devices.

Targeting Cheese

We love cheeseWe have a tendency to do some quick shopping at the local QFC  near my wife’s office before we head home. We also shop at the QFC near our home and always use the club card.  But these guys are soo good that they recognize @dianego ‘s love for cheesse overcomes the fact that we did not live in the geotargeted area.

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Hyper Local

I was pleasantly surprised today when I got to the mailbox and found that our University of Washington season tickets had arrived. Besides the season tickets there’s always a coffee card preloaded with $5 from Starbucks. What struck me about the card this year was that they made the connection to a traditional pre-game trek to the U Village store for coffee…the reason this year is special is due to the fact that the games are being played at Century Link Field while Husky Stadium is being renovated. Starbucks messaged that we should head to the store near HQ. Way to make the local connection.



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