The Hawaii Convention Center is getting awfully generous with U.S. meeting planners these days. In an offer that had jaws dropping at the final luncheon at this year’s PCMA meeting in Indianapolis, HCC center officials offered a "blank check" to next year’s PCMA attendees: "Register for the 2005 annual meeting in Hawaii and get an incredible Hawaii Convention Center Rent Credit. Applicable to HCC rent for bookings made in 2004 for meetings scheduled anytime during 2005 to 2010," read the blank check passed out at the luncheon. The offer is valid for meetings booked through 2004.
Sounds too good to be true, but Joe Davis, SMG general manager of the Hawaii Convention Center, says that this offer is for real. "Any PCMA member who attends PCMA 2005 in Hawaii andbooks business from 2005 to 2010 can have any reasonable offer honored. It could be in the form of rent to the center, ground transportation or event dinners…whatever they need to make their meeting in Hawaii work for them," he says. "For example, a group may receive rent free for a four-day event at a value of approximately $120,000. There is no set dollar figure. Each request will be negotiated and handled on an individual basis."
Why now? After all, both ASAE and MPI held their national conventions at the center recently and didn’t get similar offers. "It’s all about timing," says Davis, "and the time is right for our ‘bodacious offer.’"
The HCC’s redoubled efforts to attract more U.S. meetings seems prescient, given the recent pullout of 3,200 expected attendees of the Fifth World Chinese Life Insurance Congress due to problems obtaining U.S. visa approvals. And it looks like the state is anticipating more of the same types of problems. The visa issue for international meetings coming to Hawaii is large enough, according to this article from bizjournals.com, that the state has asked federal authorities to institute "Hawaii only" visas. However, according to the Hawaiian Governor's Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert the proposal isn’t likely to succeed.
According to the article: "Wienert said the Department of Homeland Security is focused on ‘getting bad guys,’ not making life easier for tourism executives."