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Discover Your Aloha

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Hawaii has been a longstanding, popular destination within the global travel market and has consistently broken records in the last five years in visitor arrivals and spending. However, with the rise in popularity of other travel destinations including Mexico, Thailand, the Caribbean, Florida and Vietnam, the destination market organisation understood the importance of maintaining its competitive position in the travel space. 

The organisation also acknowledged the need to target a younger audience with a strong appetite for travel by utilising online tactics that appealed to this demographic and created a direct connection with them. In order to attract millennials and increase visitation to Hawaii, the organisation chose to integrate innovative, exclusive technology and layer in social media elements including Instagram and Snapchat takeovers, throughout the year to share new, seasonal and behind-the-scenes content. 


Although Hawaii’s tourism industry has broken records in recent years for visitor arrivals, a constant effort to use fresh, innovative tactics to stay competitive in the ever-expanding global travel market is critical. Hawaii Tourism Authority aimed to partner with an expert in the travel space who could help it increase incremental bookings, drive awareness to the island destination and remain competitive on the global playing field. 

The destination marketing organisation chose to team up with Expedia, known for constantly experimenting with new and innovative technologies that can empower its partners to engage with travellers in unique and exciting ways. With the chosen partner’s expert capabilities aligned with the organisation’s goals, the teams worked together to develop a unique digital marketing campaign that leveraged facial recognition software and drone footage to connect with travellers, especially the millennial audience, in a highly personalised way and showcase the beauty and spirit of the Hawaiian Islands.

In September 2016, the team launched “Discover Your Aloha,” which was the brand partner’s first campaign utilising facial recognition. The multifaceted campaign ran in the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand on Expedia,, Orbitz, Travelocity and Wotif sites. 


“Discover Your Aloha” was brought to life with an eye-catching microsite, which exposes users to captivating video content and drone footage that represents animal guides of spiritual significance to Hawaiian culture, including ‘Iwa (Bird): Hawaii’s all-knowing guide; He’e (Octopus): Hawaii’s loving spirit; Pua’a (Pig): Hawaii’s bold adventurer. While the video is playing, the custom-built facial recognition software measures viewers’ most positive reactions and produces a customised travel recommendation aligned with one of the three animal guides. Users can then book a personalised Hawaii vacation package based on their custom itinerary and explore content to learn more about the wide range of activities available in Hawaii.  

The microsite and its bespoke facial recognition technology is accessible on mobile and desktop devices for visitors in the five target countries. To further drive visitation and engagement with the microsite, targeted display ads featured across the partner’s  portfolio of leading travel brands and the animal guides are hosting special social media takeovers to share seasonal behind-the-scenes content.

The innovative digital strategy that the team developed is a critical component to the overall campaign and essential in helping meet the organisation’s objectives. Furthermore, the collaboration behind the campaign spans the Hawaiian Islands by incorporating a wide variety of activities on every island and involving many stakeholders who are focused on growing tourism in the state. By tapping into innovation as well as leveraging key relationships, the team produced a campaign that successfully engaged key target audiences and highlighted Hawaii’s rich culture and beauty. 


The campaign has produced notable results thus far. As of January, visitors to the microsite were highly engaged with nearly 75% of visitors completing the video and the bounce rate was less than 1 percent. 

To-date, 32 percent of users have clicked on the ‘Book Now’ button on their custom itineraries compared to the average 10 percent that we typically see with these types of campaigns. 

Conversion results have also been highly impressive with more than 20 percent increase year-over-year in passenger demand across Expedia points of sale, and the campaign has produced a remarkable 129:1 return on ad spend. 

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