As snow keeps on piling up here on the East Coast, Hawaii’s weather forecast includes a slight chance of rain, with mostly sunny skies. Highs of the day hits around 81 degrees, while lows are around 70 degrees. Hawaii is sunny with warm weather year-round, which makes it one of the hottest spots for tourists. Tourism is the largest source of income for the Hawaiian Islands, contributing to more than $14 billion dollars just in 2012. After the recession in 2008-2009, Hawaii’s tourism declined substantially. Slowly, the numbers have been rising again and now in hopes of further increasing tourism, Hawaii has turned to social media. Starting just last month, January 2015, the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) has launched a new social media hashtag campaign to increase tourism in Hawaii. Specifically, the campaign targets Hawaii’s Not-Yet-Beens (NYBs), the segment of Hawaii Target Travelers that have not yet visited the Hawaiian Islands (the breakdown is listed below).


As seen above, nearly half of the NYBs are concentrated in the younger generations. To target these specific NYBs, it only made sense to use social media for their new campaign. The campaign encourages residents and visitors to share their experiences on the Hawaiian Islands through social media with the hashtag #LetHawaiiHappen.

HVCB’s Instagram, GoHawaii, features breathtaking pictures of Hawaii that are all reposts of random people on Instagram that have tagged or hashtagged anything related to Hawaii. They are further urging followers to use the hashtag by including it in their descriptions or cover photos on all their social media sites, as seen below. It seems to be working, as there are already over 9,000 posts just on Instagram with the hashtag #LetHawaiiHappen.


“While everyone knows that The Hawaiian Islands are rich in natural beauty, the oftentimes untold story is that the real beauty of this incredibly rich destination, with its unique culture, traditions, experiences, and activities, are those special memories that couples, families, and friends create throughout their stay as they hang–loose and go with the flow,” said Jay Talwar, HVCB’s chief marketing officer. “#LetHawaiiHappen aims to let residents and fellow visitors alike show their friends and family what Hawaii is all about through their personal images as they weave their stories of having fun as they #LetHawaiiHappen on their own journeys throughout The Hawaiian Islands.”

“Many residents and visitors already share their unique, only–in–Hawaii experiences with friends and family on social media. This program provides an opportunity to amplify their stories and photos so other travelers around the world can relate to and enjoy them,” Talwar added.

Users can search the hashtag on any social media site to see others’ experience on the Hawaiian Islands. Posts will also be curated to be featured on HVCB’s website gohawaii.com and on their other social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and Youtube. They even released TV Commercials for the campaign where they show some of the amazing things that can happen on several of the islands when you just “let Hawaii happen,” as seen below.




Since the campaign just started in the beginning of the year, there is no data yet on how it has directly affected tourism or the NYBs. But, I think this is a very clever way to target the younger generation. The younger generation is more heavily reliant on social media than ever before, and HVCB is aiming to take advantage of that. Pictures can create such strong lasting impressions and even being from Hawaii myself, there are constantly new places that I discover through social media to explore when I am home. People from Hawaii are proud of the beauty that surrounds them, often using hashtags such as #LuckyWeLiveHI, and this is now another way to show the world how amazing Hawaii can be. I am fairly sure that this hashtag will take off and become widely used. I also think this will help attract NYBs because speaking from personal experience, when I see pictures of amazing travel destinations, it only makes me want to go there more. Using social media has become the strongest way to influence and reach out to people around the world.

Maybe taking a look at their Instagram yourself will inspire you to book a trip to Hawaii on your next vacation. gohawaii








  1. Great post! After having traveled abroad for the first time last semester I have definitely caught the travel bug. I often think how lucky we are to have Hawaii as part of the United States and have always wanted to go, but haven’t really known too much about it. Obviously I know that Hawaii in general is beautiful, but I think this is an awesome campaign to enlighten people like myself to more specific insights and places to see. It is interesting to compare the positives and negatives of social media for a place like Hawaii – specifically, I am thinking of one of our class discussions on the dangers of getting that perfect selfie. I wonder how many of the #LetHawaiiHappen shots were taken on trails or cliffs that people technically are not supposed to wander on. Nonetheless, this is a great example of the power of crowdsourcing that social media allows organizations to leverage. I’m sure many people actually trust snapshots taken by fellow tourists themselves over a larger corporate entity. It is the whole idea of, “wow, if they can take that picture on their phone, then so can I.” I think it is really valuable for HVCB to be realizing the value of using Hawaii’s current visitors to attract new visitors. I think they certainly have the right focus in targeting the younger generation of NYB’s as well. As long as the US economy continues to strengthen, I can really see this social media campaign being very successful in attracting new visitors.

  2. The HVCB is really figuring out an important part of modern day travel: people don’t want to see stock photos of locations they are interested in travelling to. There is skepticism around traditional brochures because a professional photographer can make anywhere look beautiful. Staged people laughing and eating dinner seems fake and unappealing. Instead, potential visitors want to see experiences from an average person to serve as a proxy for how they will enjoy their own vacation. In turn, they are turning to social media, whether it be through pictures people post of their personal vacation to reviews they write on Yelp or Trip Advisor, to influence their decision. Therefore, by creating #LetHawaiiHappen, the HCVB is facilitating a desired conversation online. As @jreed0614 mentions, people want to see pictures taken on a cell phone because it makes the view more attainable to the average visitor.
    Personally, my favorite memory from my trip to Hawaii was our first night in Waikiki because someone was getting married on the beach and there were fireworks. It was a nice surprise and welcome to Hawaii. As the HVCB notices, these stories are only going to come from people sharing their memories, so creating this discussion is helpful in showing people how great Hawaii is.

  3. Great post! The campaign did a great job of recognizing their target audience and went to the best place to reach them: social media. The #LetHawaiiHappen happen campaign not only spreads the idea all over social media, but it also personalizes the idea. People get a taste of personal experiences that are new and unique to individuals but also relatable to Not-Yet-Beens in different aspects. By telling a story, the campaign ultimately has a significant impact on drawing these NYBs to the beautiful islands and creating their own story. Hearing about experiences is on thing, but seeing them and living through the posts is something completely different and helps make the magic feel real. The hashtag has such great ability to bring people together to share common passions. I think the use of it through this Hawaiian campaign will have been impacts. Hopefully not only to increase Hawaii-goers but also simply as a means to share incredible memories.

  4. Great post! I believe that Hawaii’s decision to move beyond the typical montage TV ad regarding tourism is a great move. Tourism ads have always seemed very artificial to me as any skillful production team can make any state whether it be North Dakota, Florida, Michigan, or Kentucky look like the time of your life. The fact that Hawaii is reposting pictures from everyday visitors believe gives them a lot of credibility and authenticity in regard to the Not-Yet-Beens. The candidness and simplicity of these photos makes Hawaii much more appealing in my eye than a carefully crafted edited photo. I would be interested in learning more about the cost-benefit analysis of this new marking technique for HVCB. Are they saving any money because they are creating less original content and instead reposting content from tourists, or does it take equal or more time, energy, and money to sift through these pictures and create these campaigns?

    1. I am also very interested to learn more about the cost-benefit analysis of this new marketing technique! I personally feel like they would be saving more money and the whole campaign is almost like free advertising! People don’t have to wait until HVCB’s social media sites upload something, they can simply just search the hashtag #LetHawaiiHappen! But I do think it would take more time to sift through all the tagged photos to choose which ones to upload on the main pages, but pictures are a lot easier to look through than words!

  5. I love this campaign! The pictures and videos show the best parts of traveling in Hawaii and special moments experienced there. I think these media do not only show nice landscapes, but evoke emotions. As you know that the photos are taken by other visitors, they seem authentic and real. When I see pictures published by hotels or travel agencies, I’m never sure how much is photoshopped. But if you have them of random visitors, you can better believe what you see. Also if you are the visitor yourself it’s a nice idea, as you can share positive impressions and highlights of your holidays with other people. I think also the length of the videos for the campaign is perfectly chosen. They touch you in less than two minutes. The pictures and videos exude some strong feelings as meeting new people, falling in love, being satisfied with oneself… When I saw them I asked myself “What am I still doing here?”.

  6. I really enjoyed reading this post about! I think this is a prime example of the persuasive influences social media can have on its users. Included in my own personal Instagram feed are multiple accounts of Ski Resorts, outdoor brands, The U.S. Department of Interior, and several wildlife photographers. Each one of these accounts consistently posts pictures of beautiful scenes across the United States and world that arouse my desire to travel. After reading this post, I searched #LetHawaiiHappen and was able to see so many neat pictures of Hawaii – now I really want to visit. I just read in an Economist article that nearly four-fifths of smartphone users check their device within 15 minutes of waking up. This statistic emphasizes how social media has become a serious part of our everyday life, and I think Hawaii is employing a good strategy to persuade potential visitors with their beautiful photographs. Also, the aesthetics of this post made it very enjoyable – good job!

  7. Nice post. I wish I were back on Kauai myself! Tried to post a pic, but don’t think it will let you in the comments.

  8. Wow, really cool post! I myself am a NYB and would love to travel to Hawaii one day. I think this is a great campaign for Hawaii to attract the younger generation. I scrolled through the GoHawaii Instagram account and found the pictures to be truly breathtaking. I also noticed that they have 60.2k followers. This seems like a really effective way to engage users, as it provides a great opportunity for crowdsourcing. It also can serve as a source of inspiration, as potential visitors will constantly be reminded of the beauty of Hawaii and choose it the next time they have the opportunity to travel.

  9. This is such a creative campaign. Who would not want to visit Hawaii!? I like how clearly this is a campaigns that targets specific customer segments. It combines everything we have learned here in CSOM in an extremely fun, entertaining campaign. The first video cracked me up. I really enjoyed your use of the videos in the blog post!

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