Incentive programs are contributing to the return of corporate groups in Oahu the most, says, Michael Murray, vice president of sales and marketing for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, who adds that budgets are inching upward again—which corroborates the 2011 Reader Forecast survey results by Successful Meetings’ sister publication, Incentive, reporting that more than a quarter of respondents have slightly to moderately expanded purse strings.
Oahu is “a huge incentive destination, obviously,” says Murray. “Companies now know they have to motivate their people to drive production and revenue. They’re saying, ‘We have to get back to destinations that will get them to be productive and successful,’ ” now that the noise against meetings and incentives is drastically quieter.
As such, he says many Oahu programmers are repeat clients. But with post-recession austerity, incentive groups that previously ventured offshore are going to Oahu too—their planners exploiting domestic parsimony but still providing exotica. “We’re a very good alternative to traditional international incentive destinations such as South Africa, Europe, and Asia,” Murray answers.
As part of the ascetic practices, some Oahu groups are moving down a tier in hotel and resort accommodations, reducing appropriations for certain elements such as the final-night award event, or slotting in more free time for attendees to explore on their own in lieu of organized events. (These measures were highlighted in Incentive's2011 Reader Forecast survey
“Overall, there has been a scaling down of meetings lavishness,” says Murray. He continues, “As opposed to flying in a big-name band, planners are going for authenticity and theming around Hawaiian culture. They’re using the natural assets here. You don’t have to spend a lot of money theming and staging with the beautiful backdrop here.”