“So Much More Hawaii” – The Mainland Bloggers are Coming!!

When I first heard that the Hawaii Tourism Authority was bringing in mainland bloggers to tour the islands, I was kind of irked that they didn’t even think about using bloggers here locally.

Well it turns out I’m completely wrong and they will be teamed up with local bloggers from Oahu and a select group of Big Island Bloggers will hopefully be meeting up with this group of bloggers at various points as they are touring the Big Island.

Christine Lu from Cilantro Media  is the primary organizer of this tour they are dubbing So Much More Hawaii.

Oahu Social Media Extraordinaire L.P. Neenz Faleafine was kind enough to seek some information about my blog as well as some others and has passed it onto Christine after I begged and pleaded to be part of this.

Hopefully, if all the cards stack up right, I’m hoping that some of us “FBI Bloggers” will actually be able to blog on them being here at various locations throughout the island.

They are only going to be here for a very limited amount of time.

They arrive on the Big Island Monday June 1st and will be departing the following night.

Currently, one of the bloggers that is making the trip, Jim Turner, is running a poll on what activities they should do on the Big Island (as well as others).
It’s an open poll… so maybe some of you folks can go give them a hand in deciding on what they should and should not see in their limited time here by clicking here to vote on the activities that you would recommend for them.

The current list of activities they have listed to be voted on is the following (I don’t know if any or all of the places are places they will go… they are just listed on his poll):

Dolphin Quest
Firenesia
Hawai‘i Pack and Paddle
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hilo Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens
Kilauea
Kona Coffee Tour
Lava Tube Cave Adventure: Kilauea Caverns of Fire
Native Guide Hawai‘i
Stargazing:
*Arnotts Lodge
*Bigti
*Hawai‘i Forest & Trail
*Mauna Kea Summit Adventures

Windward Coast and Waterfalls Tour

I’ve been talking to them along with Dave Corrigan of Big Island Video News and I don’t want to quite let anything out of the bag just yet… but they were specifically interested in the following FBI blogs:

1. Damon Tucker

2.. The Kohala Blog

3. All Hawaii News

4. Hawaii 24/7

5. Big Island Video News

6. Hawaii County News

7. Hilo Living Blog

8. Leslie Lang

However at this time we are still working out logistics on who will and won’t participate on the FBI side of things as at least one has opted out until they get more details on this.

The following was posted recently on Christine’s Blog about the pending trip and what it involves and why they are doing it.

… I’ve spent the past 2 years using  social media as a platform for connecting people interested and involved in doing business in China by helping them better understand it. One of the highlights of this ongoing effort was a social media tour I co-organized last year with Web2Asia and CNReviews.com called The China 2.0 Tour in which 6 international tech bloggers spent 10 days with us on a multi-city tour that connected them directly with the local tech community in China. In between blogging, tweeting and live streaming events, tours of Chinese tech startups and exclusive Q&A sessions with the President of Google China and the Alibaba management these 6 bloggers brought along their combined hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers, Facebook friends and blog readers for the trip by sharing their first hand experience via social media. So there you go. A great example of social media as a tool for cross border and cross cultural sharing and connecting…

So what does this have to do with Hawaii? I’m getting there.

I follow trends of outbound Chinese tourism closely as Chinese tourists are now outnumbering and outspending Japanese tourists worldwide.  In addition to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, I’ve had meetings, discussions and interviews with NY State Tourism, Marriott International, Los Angeles Port Authority and the San Francisco  Center for Economic Development in the past year learning more about ways they are attracting Chinese outbound tourism and investment dollars to their company and local economy. If you asked me to paint a big picture based on the feedback I’ve learned, I would say there’s no doubt that these organizations understand the potential that Chinese outbound investment and tourism brings to the local economy. However, as with everything in China business, there is the potential and then there’s the challenge of tapping into that potential…

What does this have to do with Hawaii and social media. Ok fine. Here ya go.

Social media has provided the common thread for conversation involving these initiatives. In regards to tourism, social media is a great way for reaching a wide audience in China (and anywhere else for that matter) and sharing Hawaii with them. Social media and the whole idea of blogging in general is still very new as methods of PR and outreach. At the same time, I have many key contacts in China interested in helping me spread the word about Hawaii. Some ideas that have been seriously discussed are a video channel about Hawaii on Tudou.com or a special Hawaii edition of the popular Chinese reality show Quest China a “Hawaii Week” by M1NT Shanghai during next year’s 2010 World Expo

..It was put together in …6 weeks! We have had *amazing* support and not so amazing support (the latter being another post for another day guys). We identified a window of time where key bloggers in different vertical niche markets were available to experience the island as a group with separate sector focuses. Each one has a sector they are known for covering and their visit to Hawaii is meant to share this with their audience…

To read all of Christine’s excellent post you can click here.

If you want Bio’s on the following bloggers you can click on each individual blogger.

These are the folks coming along with Christine.  (The link either goes to their blog or their company):

Rick Calvert

Jim Turner

Aric S. Queen (I’m gonna have a beer with this dude!)

Leah Lamb

Shira Lazar

Sheila Scarborough

Mark Tafoya

I look forward to meeting this fine group of bloggers even if it’s just for dinner, lunch, or even a cold one.

As soon as the new Hawaii Tourism Authority site is posted, there maybe some other surprises in store… but who knows at this point.

By the way… If you check out any of their sites… yes Dave Smith… you were correct… these are some “BIG TIME” Bloggers!

I feel very worthy just to be meeting them if given the opportunity and all things work out.

10 Responses

  1. cool! more blogs to read about Hawaii! hehe

  2. Aric — Thanks for asking. Dialog is certainly part of it.

    “Could our little crew help, in any way, this community health you’ve brought up?”

    You ask a very good question. I’ve wondered about that too:

    http://islandnotes.wordpress.com/2009/05/25/so-much-more-than-mai-tais/

  3. Darren.

    Appreciate you taking the time to voice your concerns about this project.

    Could our little crew help, in any way, this community health you’ve brought up?

    Aric

  4. Christine — Thanks for your response.

    All Mai Tais aside, my comment addresses the reality that online discussions most significantly include non-monetized advocacy for community wellness. While the Hawaii Tourism Authority is not particularly interested in this, community members certainly are. This non-sponsored side of blogging, often dissenting from corporate/institutional perspectives, must advocate for itself. No offense, but this perhaps differs from China. I’d enjoy hearing your take on this, and on issues such as net neutrality, censorship, and such.

    Have fun, and by all means, welcome and aloha!

  5. Darren — I understand your concerns. I assure you we are more than just computer geeks visiting the islands to drink mai tais together. Perhaps it would help to understand the purpose of how this tour came about on my so as to minimize the level of misunderstanding and perception.

    http://blog.christine.lu/2009/05/23/at-the-intersection-of-hawaii-and-china/

    I’m really looking forward to meeting folks on the Big Island who are making the effort to reach out and welcome us. We are not knowledgeable about the real Hawaii. Which is why a first step in visiting an wanting to connect with the local community is a good start for us in much the same way I encourage those who misunderstand China to hop on a plane and visit for the first time. No different. It’s about bridge building and cross those bridges on both sides.

    You can get to know me better here:

    http://blog.christine.lu/about/

    And look forward to doing the same. :)

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