Hawaii Convention Center Helps Groups Attract Global Attendees

Capitalizing on Hawaii's geographic position as the central meeting point between North America and Asia, the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu has used a new global outreach program to successfully increase international registration at its largest conventions, it announced this week.

In the first half of 2011, the Hawaii Convention Center hosted three of its largest meetings of the year, each of which attracted a strong international presence: the American Academy of Neurology's (AAN) 63rd Annual Meeting in April; the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) 164th Annual Meeting in May; and the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) and International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) from March-April.

According to the center, AAN launched its most comprehensive international outreach campaign ever that for the first time included Japan and China, which made up nearly 3 percent and more than 4 percent, respectively, of total international attendance. That campaign included an ambassadors program that utilized key contacts in China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Korea, who reached out to neurologists and neuroscientists in those countries, as well as a micro-websites that were created in different languages for each country. All told, the meeting had more than 10,000 participants, of which more than a third attended from 92 foreign countries — up 37 percent over last year, when the meeting took place in Toronto.

"The Hawaii Convention Center taught us how to do international outreach both culturally and from the point of view of an organization hoping to build attendance," said AAN Executive Director and CEO Catherine M. Rydell. "We worked for three years with the center on our international outreach program and strategy, and will now integrate these highly successful efforts into a national campaign for future meetings."

APA and AAS/ICAS saw similar results for their meetings. APA, for instance, drew more than 10,000 attendees from 76 countries — more than 39 percent of them from outside the United States — while AAS/ICAS drew 4,400 participants from 65 countries.

Later this year, the Hawaii Convention Center will host its most impressive international meeting yet: Approximately 15,000 government leaders from the 21 countries that make up the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) — a group that's dedicated to promoting free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Pacific Rim, encompassing member countries such as Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, among others — will meet in Honolulu on Nov. 12 and 13, 2011, for the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting. Under the tutelage of President Barack Obama, it will be the first time the United States has hosted the APEC meeting since 1993.

"The success of the center's new international outreach program, coupled with November's APEC 2011 Leaders' Meeting, helps solidify Hawaii as a location of shared geographic convenience in which to do serious business," said Joe Davis, general manager of the Hawaii Convention Center, which is managed by SMG. "This international participation greatly enhances the depth of these meetings and puts Hawaii at the forefront of global research and discussions across a wide range of disciplines."