An airplane is more than simply a mode of travel. That’s the
philosophy according to Hawaiian Airlines promotions director Kirk
Smith, who has been dreaming up offbeat promotions and cutting-edge
campaigns to keep Hawaii and his airline front-of-mind.
Consider the Honolulu-based carrier’s most recent attention-getter.
Hawaiian is serving as presenting sponsor of the Billabong Pro
Maui, an annual women’s professional surfing contest held each
December. To help generate attention for the sport and for this
year’s Dec. 8-20 competition, Hawaiian imported the Billabong
Clipper, an authentic replica of the old seaplanes that served
Hawaii in the 1930s. After making a water landing in Keehi Lagoon
near Honolulu International Airport, the Clipper flew the competing
surfers to the Valley Isle. Sporting a Hawaiian Airlines logo from
days gone by, the propeller-driven aircraft drew attention to other
promotional events as well during its visit to the islands.
Hawaiian supplemented the Billabong Clipper campaign with a paid
media schedule “to remind audiences about Hawaiian’s commitment to
surfing, and to underscore our legacy of service for the islands,”
Efforts like the Billabong promotion build brand awareness, which
can help travel agents, said Smith.
“By using the Billabong Clipper to showcase Hawaiian’s long history
with amphibious aircraft while promoting surfing at the same time
we involve a younger audience in the experience of the islands and
bring Hawaii alive for today’s market,” he said. “This generates
more business for agents.”
Hawaii and surfing have never been more popular, Smith added.
“Put the two together and you have a selling point for travel
agents to use in attracting business from younger, more active
customers, with many of them likely to return to the islands for
years to come,” he said.
While all age groups travel to Hawaii, the market of travelers in
their mid-20s to 30s is of particular interest to Hawaiian Airlines
these days, said Smith. He pointed to the results of a recent
consumer telephone survey conducted by the carrier in key Mainland
“Compared with other carriers serving Hawaii, our airline is seeing
a definite trending toward a younger audience,” he said. “We feel
this is good for Hawaiian, especially if we can form an affinity
with them, so they become loyal customers for our airline and our
destination. Hawaii is rich in natural beauty and outdoor
recreation, so we hope to encourage this active and vibrant
customer to seek out what our islands have to offer.”
Given that potential Hawaii visitors are bombarded by media
messages, Smith and his team are continuing to craft promotions to
capture clients’ attention through less mainstream outlets. In the
near future, for instance, Hawaiian is introducing a free computer
desktop accessory in conjunction with the Hawaii Visitors and
Convention Bureau. After downloading the tool, clients have access
to a range of appealing Hawaii-related content on demand, including
streaming Hawaiian music, surf cams, weather reports and screen
Several recent innovations demonstrate Hawaiian Airlines’ desire to
In August, it launched a new onboard technology giving passengers
the option to pay for in-flight headsets, entertainment systems and
beverages with credit cards, HawaiianMiles awards and coupons.
Currently on transpacific flights, the service will debut on other
flights in 2006.
In November, the carrier added luggage processing to its
self-service check-in options. Clients go to a designated area in
the ticket lobby, wave their self-printed boarding pass under a bar
code reader, and get printed luggage tags and a receipt.
Also last month, Hawaiian placed check-in kiosks in the lobbies of
four hotels in Waikiki, including the Outrigger Waikiki, Outrigger
Reef, Ohana East and Ohana Maile Sky Court.