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Meet Our Team: Tourism Brand Manager Miki Wakai

Last year, Miki Wakai joined the HTA as a brand manager to oversee Hawaii’s largest international market, Japan. Working collaboratively with the HTA’s contractor, Hawaii Tourism Japan (HTJ), Miki helps to ensure that HTJ’s marketing efforts are in line with the HTA’s strategic plan to drive demand and revenue for the state.  
 
Recent economic reforms in Japan have led to the first consumption tax increase in 17 years (from 5% to 8%), with another increase planned in 2015. Coupled with the strengthening of the dollar against the yen, Japanese travelers have recently become more cautious in their discretionary spending. 
With these market changes, Miki has been working with HTJ to find new and innovative ways to promote travel to the Hawaiian Islands in this mature market. 
 
Earlier this year, HTJ launched its successful “Ultra Hawaii” campaign. Capitalizing on the popularity of the iconic “Ultra Man” character in Japan, the campaign includes: a destination promotion video available online; promotional collateral materials; train advertisements on Sagami Railways; and travel packages through top wholesaler and travel agencies. Public relations efforts around the campaign generated $1 million in media value and 1.6 billion impressions for the Hawaiian Islands.
 
As the result of the successful “Arashi Blast in Hawaii” concert in Ko Olina last month, HTJ is also looking to bring other major concerts to attract Japanese visitors to Hawaii. The recent concert helped to sell out 15,000 travel packages, which required 18 exclusive charter flights, filled 38,000 hotel room nights and generated more than $20 million in incremental visitor spending. In addition, the two-hour concerts were broadcast in movie theaters throughout Japan, where all 100,000 tickets were sold out. A video of the concert and other clips from Arashi’s visit is also being produced, which is expected to generate even more exposure for the Hawaiian Islands in the Japanese market. 
 
HTJ also partnered with top travel agency, H.I.S., to open its first official Aloha Program Satellite Office in Osaka, Japan’s second largest city. Offering only Hawaii travel packages, the office welcomed more than 1,100 customers and secured 300 bookings by travel agents certified by the HTJ Aloha Program. Miki continues to work with HTJ to support and expand this program to other major cities including Nagoya and Hokkaido. 
 
Prior to joining the HTA, Miki worked at the Hilton Grand Vacation Club overseeing the marketing and sales office in Hawai‘i while reestablishing its presence in Seoul, Korea. She was also responsible for identifying and marketing to potential customers visiting from Japan, Korea and the U.S. mainland for time share opportunities. 
 
For more information on the Japan market or to contact Miki directly, call the HTA’s offices at 973-2255 or miki@gohta.net
 
 
 

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Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Phone: (808) 973-2255
Fax: (808) 973-2253

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