Categorized | Business, Featured

BIVB reaches out to meeting planners while supporting local causes

From left: Julie Wynne, Nursery Manager at Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods; Debbie Hogan, Senior Director of Sales at Big Island Visitors Bureau; Darla DeVille, CEO of Hawaii Island United Way; George Applegate, Executive Director, Big Island Visitors Bureau; John Wynne, Operations Manager, Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods. (Photo courtesy of Irondog Communications)

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Representatives from the Big Island Visitors Bureau presented a check for $2,320 to the Hawaii Island United Way on Wednesday afternoon. The gift was a result of a follow-up promotion to meeting planners who attended PRIME2011 earlier this year at the Hawaii Convention Center on Oahu.

PRIME2011, held June 8-11, was attended by more than 100 qualified planners representing North America, Australia, China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Europe. PRIME’s goal is to provide an opportunity for hospitality industry suppliers to conduct business and develop new business with these meeting planners, and tout Hawaii as a meeting destination.

Held on Hawaii Island for the past three years, PRIME moved to Oahu this year, leaving Hawaii Island with a challenge to gain exposure in other ways. This prompted the team at BIVB to come up with a post-conference strategy to reach out to the participants of this year’s event.

“Our goal was to create an outreach program that would leave a lasting impression, forever connecting these planners to Hawaii, while promoting some of our island’s messaging,” said George Applegate, Executive Director of BIVB.

“We worked closely with the County of Hawaii and The Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative creating a program to plant a koa tree on the island in each meeting planner’s name,” he said. “The gift was unique and shared a message of culture and sustainability. Each planner received a certificate with GPS coordinates for their tree, a letter from the Mayor, and a notecard and sales DVD from the Big Island Visitors Bureau.”

Debbie Hogan, senior director of sales for BIVB, said the response from meeting planners has been positive.

“It definitely made a lasting impression and, as we hoped, forever connected them to our island home. It also created a ‘chain reaction,'” she said. “One planner is considering purchasing a tree for each of their conference attendees when they get to the island. Another is looking at how they can create a similar program in their area.”

It’s not the first time a group has given back to the local community.

“The CMI market impacts Hawaii Island beyond the travel industry,” Applegate said. “Earlier this year, a convention staying on the Kohala Coast contributed thousands of dollars worth of new computer equipment and software to schools on our island.”

As a result of working with The Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative at Kukaiau Ranch, a donation check was provided to the charity of BIVB’s choice, which was the Hawaii Island United Way, an organization that supports Hawaii Island charities.

Nearly all money (98 percent) raised on Hawaii Island stays on Hawaii Island, benefiting specific programs that have excellent track records of service and positively influence the lives of the community, from keiki to kupuna.

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