Jon’s In Waikiki (AKA The Waikiki Marketer)

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Business & the Internet In Hawaii

November 15th, 2006 · 1 Comment

One of the things about Hawaii that I like is that trends and fads from the mainland often never make it here. This is surprising especially today in our age of global technology and communication. The geographical isolation was felt even more when I was small. We got tv episodes here a week or two behind the rest of America. This would frequently confuse tourists. They couldn’t understand why they were seeing the same episode again so soon.

Hawaii has traditionally been behind the mainland on a lot of other types of developments. The pace here is a little slower, so people don’t feel the compulsion to adapt the latest and greatest. Outside of Waikiki, it is wise to carry some cash. There are many businesses here who will only take cash or check. Credit cards are worth nothing more than the plastic they’re made of.

So what does this have to do with the internet? I’ve found that many in the business community are applying this same attitude toward marketing on the web. As we lose more and more local businesses, this may be a fatal mistake. Many, though not all, Hawaii businesses could survive, and even grow, if they built another revenue stream from the web.

Today, many here are still in the mindset that having a web site is all you need. For them, that is internet marketing. And it goes no further. SEO/SEM isn’t on their radar at all.

The fact that large mainland companies are taking over more and more of the Islands’ economy should be a wake-up call to all of us. Local businesses will have to start fighting back or they will soon be extinct. The list of familiar names that have gone out of business – in just the past 5 or 10 years – is a long one. These are places that had been around 20, 30, 40, even 50 years. But no longer.
The state doesn’t make it any easier. Hawaii is one of the least friendly places to do business in the US. We’re always in the bottom 5 of those lists. It’s especially unfriendly for small and mid-size companies, which is everyone in the local business community.

We can’t expand very far within the Islands, so the logical place to grow is online. I’d hate to see more familiar names close their doors. I’m still in mourning for KC Drive Inn. If anybody knows where to get shakes as good as theirs, please drop me a line. I’m tired of crying myself to sleep every night.

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