How a Hawaii Media Outlet is pivoting during the COVID Crisis

25 August 2020

For over 15 years, Maui Guide (ran by Hawaii Web Group) has been working with over 70 clients to boost their exposure, primarily using Hawaii visitor websites (approx. 2 million visitors per year), Hawaii social media accounts (over 900,000 followers), and email newsletters (close to 25,000 subscribers).  And though they’ve been through economic ups and downs, nothing could prepare them for a total shutdown of Hawaii tourism, which makes up 95% of their clientele!

How a Hawaii tourism-reliant marketing company is pivoting while supporting Hawaii

Pivoting away from Tourism

Other Hawaii industries

Though tourism has been put on hold, there’s still plenty of opportunity on the islands.  Hawaii Web Group’s project manager, Chris Norberg, reflects on the time spent pulling out hair and thinking of alternative revenue streams: “I think every business owner in Hawaii that primarily relies on tourism went through some late nights with cold sweats and depression.  We were no different, but instead of taking a break from the normal workload in order to think of new ways to bring in money, we had to continue fulltime at a fraction of the income.  Our sites and social media require constant maintenance and updates, so it left us with little time to work on new prospects.  So, what do we do when things get rough?  Roll up the sleeves and work nights!  It was hard to find motivation before being exposed to Hawaii Thrive and Nick Ponte Marketing‘s regular updates and tips. At one point, early on, they posted some industries that are still getting plenty of business among the islands.  We took it to heart and began developing campaigns to get work outside of tourism.”

Since then, Hawaii Web Group has already built a new web system for a local medical group, has bumped up real estate content with heavy social promotion, and increased rank for their pages listing attorneys on Maui.  “It’s not quite enough to break-even yet,” Chris accounts “but we’re setting ourselves up for downturns in the future while maintaining our exposure to future potential visitors.  What would have been the best financial year of our lives was robbed from us due to our narrow focus. We need to hammer this lesson home:  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!”

Continued Promotion of Tourism

Other than some very minor Kam’aina activities and off-on inter-island travel accommodations, tourism in our State is at a standstill.  And as Hawaii Web Group’s Chris Norberg mentioned, the work must continue if they want to stay relevant and continue to battle the big dogs like Tripadvisor.  “Though some of our day to day client work has decreased, we’ve still had to continue the bulk of our work.  The little extra time we’ve been allotted has been put towards cutting costs and cutting ancillary workload.  It’s been an exercise in analyzing work we’ve been doing for years that don’t equate to enough value for the hours.”  In doing so, they’ve managed to cut their overall spend by over 21% along with chop over 14 hours per week from the team’s tasks.  That time can now go towards these new non-tourism related projects.

Supporting Hawaii

Content creation and social media promotion live at the heart of Maui Guide’s most valuable services, and so they decided to use their strength to both help existing, struggling Hawaii businesses as well as the local community as a whole.

Hawaii Support

Maui Guide is rebuilding content across all sites and social to help local businesses move towards online revenue.  Ex. A new campaign for local products is being formulated where businesses are shared on a prominent Maui shopping page.  This page will feature numerous Hawaii products and will be promoted heavily across their social media accounts (over 900,000+ followers.) If you have a business or know someone with a business that should be shared on this page, reach out to them!

Local Community Work

Throughout the years, conferring with the local community before starting a project has been a paramount first step.  The last thing we need is Kapu locations being shared, dangerous activities being promoted, and incorrect/insensitive materials being distributed.  In that vein, and for many years, Maui Guide has allocated a number of team hours every week for outreach to travel bloggers and other travel sites that share these inappropriate subjects asking for their kokua and cooperation in pulling down the offending content. “Everyone needs to do their part in protecting our islands, and this is the best way for our nerdy web team to contribute!”

We’re glad to see first-hand effects from our posts at Hawaii Thrive, and we look forward to more of your own stories as we work together for a better Hawaii!

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