Technology Key To Success

By Shari Chang
Wednesday - March 21, 2007
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ResortQuest Hawaii group (front, from left) Donna Wheeler, Shari Chang and Jane Gonzaga (back) Dean Nakamura, Wanda Watanabe and William Koo
ResortQuest Hawaii group (front, from left) Donna Wheeler,
Shari Chang and Jane Gonzaga (back) Dean Nakamura,
Wanda Watanabe and William Koo

Many people often ask me, “What are the defining factors in creating a successful marketing campaign?” Well, through my past experience I’ve found that innovation in marketing technology has been one direct pathway to producing winning results.

After three extremely successful years for Hawaii tourism, bookings are leveling off. This just reminds us we need to be more strategic in the marketing of our Islands, and calls for new creativity. For us at ResortQuest Hawaii, we plan to be more innovative, use technology to our advantage, maximize our dollars spent, and be extremely strategic in the ways we market ourselves to specific audiences.

With the current climate, a major priority is the ResortQuest Hawaii web site, which offers a spectacular portal to marketing worldwide. During the site enhancement, we’re planning virtual tours with Panavision to assist with each property’s specific marketing campaign. In addition to showcasing ResortQuest Hawaii’s myriad of properties and rooms, we are taking things a step further. We plan to have virtual tours walking from the hotel to the beach, exploring the grounds, even showcasing well-known area attractions or participating in local activities. Again, we’re employing technology to provide a global audience with a unique, tailored experience - strategically marketing to specific customer segments.

My commitment to Hawaii tourism is quite deep and strong.

During my career I’ve worked with the state’s tourism department to develop policies and new markets, and I served as a consultant to the Hawaii Visitor’s Bureau in marketing and developing travel industry training programs. In fact, I helped create the interactive “Focus on Hawaii” seminars approved by the International Certification Training Association (ICTA) for continuing education credits to develop Hawaii specialists. This eventually led to my gubernatorial appointment to the inaugural Hawaii Tourism Authority in 1998, where I became chairman of its board of directors during my four-year term.

In addition to this experience, I worked as a consultant with several major companies to develop e-commerce opportunities for travel on the Internet. I also served on the state’s Steering Committee for Technology in the Hospitality Industry, looking for ways to improve technology for tourism in Hawaii. During this time, our committees were able to develop pilot projects to bring new synergy between technology and the hospitality industry.

I also used this technical knowledge in another aspect of my life, to give back to Hawaii. In my opinion, we should all step back occasionally and take those skills honed from our business lives and offer them to a non-profit. Because of a personal battle with cancer a few years ago, I felt compelled to give back to our community. A friend recommended the Aloha United Way (AUW), who was thrilled to have someone with my marketing background. As vice president of marketing for AUW, I implemented inventive technology to launch new marketing initiatives that included AUW’s first online auction to raise funds. The program was extremely successful, raising $38,000 in a few short weeks, and has now become an annual event.

In my experience, using technology to create innovative mar-

keting programs can help all of us. I think when we give back to the community with our respective talents, we make our Hawaii a better place to live.

Shari Chang is senior vice president of sales, marketing and revenue management for ResortQuest Hawaii. She currently serves on the Oahu Visitors Bureau board. Chang was previously named among the top 100 most powerful women in travel by “Travel Agent Magazine” for seven consecutive years, and the only woman to have earned the distinction in three separate categories of Hotels, Airlines and Destinations. She also has held executive positions with Aloha Airlines, Castle Resorts and Hotels, and Island Holidays. She has owned and operated a marketing consultant firm for nearly 13 years, serving corporations in Hawaii, the mainland U.S., South and Central Pacific and Asia.

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