Aloha, AIG Effect?

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We've blogged previously (including here and here) about the "AIG effect"--the booking-erasing phenomenon hotels and resorts suffered after 100 top American International Group salespeople were wined and dined for a week in September 2008 at the swanky St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach--just days after the federal government committed $85 billion of taxpayers' money to bail out the insurance giant.

Hotel and meeting planners in one hula-riffic state are now--finally, mercifully--seeing signs the AIG effect is ebbing.

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Where it all started.
"Hotel and meeting planners say they're seeing renewed interest in business-related travel to Hawaii, particularly in CMI business--conventions, corporate meeting and incentive business," David Wilkening writes here. "The Hawaii Tourist Authority (HTA) says after a downturn, business meetings are making a comeback in that state."

David Uchiyama, HTA's vice president of brand management, calls it "a slow but significant recovery for a crucial piece of the state's $12 billion visitor industry." He explains Hawaii has long depended on business travelers to supplement the peaks and valleys associated with leisure travelers.

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For the first five months of the year, the number of visitors to Hawaii for conventions, corporate meetings and incentives was down 12 percent, but marketers have used what they have booked to generate CMI leads and business that could fill rooms and resorts significantly in coming months and years.

"Momentum is going up; we have some good numbers [with corporate meetings], so that's very encouraging when we're seeing a lot of business driven in 2011 and 2012 as well," Mike Murray, vice president of sales and marketing for the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau's corporate meetings and incentives division, says in the piece.

Murray adds that incentive travel is also strong, indicating a pent-up demand among Mainlanders to visit the Pineapple State.

Still, when it comes to CMI travel, a stigma from the AIG effect lingers: most companies and hotels are shying away from disclosing which groups are booking convention business in Hawaii--and, especially, how much they're spending.


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