The bus to Hawaii: Marriott boosts Hawaii Bookings 40% with event marketing

Although the economic crisis is having a critical impact on tourism and travel, Marriott and its Hawaiian business partners aren’t letting it stop them from one very successful marketing campaign. The campaign, a road tour, dubbed the “Spirit of Aloha” includes Hawaiian travel and tourism executives, 3 dancers & 2 musicians on loan from the Polynesian Cultural Center as well as Maui’s Camile Velasco of American Idol fame.

The group got lots of together time as they moved along middle America on a 45-foot bus. The cost of the campaign was approximately $350,000 with Marriott covering hotel expenses and partner Hawaiian airlines covering flights. Once the team was on the mainland, it was “all bus, all day” as the caucus went from early morning local shows to day-time meetings with travel and tourism promoters bringing Aloha and sunshine at each stop. One of the more colorful venues included a bowl-a-thon with Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) members. To stir up interest with the consumer side of things, stops along the way included Costco to hand out shell leis.

Originally, the plan included visits along the California coast (where many of Hawaii’s domestic U.S. visitors originate from) including San Diego and San Francisco, but the results were so immediate the tour was extended to a total of 6 1/2 weeks and included stops across the country including Chicago and Washington, D.C.; it wrapped up February 26th.

Along the way, Spirit of Aloha gathered such interest, they started a blog, to keep everyone up to date. The entire program generated much interest in tourism circles.

The result? Marriott Hawaii bookings are up 40%. Maybe travel and tourism will will be the next segment to utilize the power of event marketing.

P.S. The bus is already onto it’s next adventure: a NASCAR driver is using it.