Taking It To The Next Level

It’s a new venture together for (from left) Tom Jones, incoming chairman of Hawai‘i Restaurant Association; Mu~ Hannemann, president and CEO of Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association; and Dennis Francis, president and publisher of O‘ahu Publications Inc.

Thanks to the partnership between print media and marketing mogul O‘ahu Publications Inc. and trade titans Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association and Hawai‘i Restaurant Association, the state’s hospitality industry is on the rise.

There’s no business like show business. As a major marketer, O‘ahu Publications Inc. recognizes the merits of putting on a good show that garners applause and rewards for all.

Playing a supporting role for many years, OPI is now stepping into the spotlight as a lead presenter and producer of events, trade shows and exhibitions. It’s a bold move for a print media company that is recasting itself as a marketing mogul to help local and regional businesses succeed.

Starting with a trade show for two major local industries — hotels and restaurants — OPI is “very excited and looking forward to this new venture,” says Dennis Francis, president and publisher.

Gerald Shintaku, events manager for Star Events, a division of O‘ahu Publications Inc.

OPI publishes Honolulu Star-Advertiser, The Garden Island, Hawai‘i Tribune-Herald, West Hawai‘i Today, Mid-Week and a number of specialty publications, including HILuxury and hotel magazines.

Its new division is called Star Events, managed by veteran food industry and community leader Gerald Shintaku. The curtain goes up on its first Hawai‘i Hotel & Restaurant Show May 29-30 at Hawai‘i Convention Center on O‘ahu.

With more than 200 exhibitors and counting, plus top decision-makers and key suppliers in hospitality, this promises to be a blockbuster event.

The convention center on Kalākaua Avenue further enhances the allure and ambiance of the event. The architectural wonder with 1.1 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space offers optimum functionality and flair to the proceedings.

“It takes our event to the next level,” says Shintaku.


Honolulu Star-Advertiser is partnering with two trade powerhouses — Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association and Hawai‘i Restaurant Association — to bring valuable contacts, resources and marketing opportunities to members of the hospitality industry.

It has already attracted major exhibitors such as HFM Foodservice, Hopaco/Office Max/Premium Inc., Window

World Hawai‘i, Triple F Distributing, C&H Financial Services, Paradise Beverages, Kaiser Foundation and JPG Hawai‘i.

It’s the start of what promises to be a sellout sales and marketing showcase where face-to-face meetings produce qualified leads and high prospects of closing sales.

According to Exhibit Surveys Inc., which studies national trade show trends, the exhibition industry is seeing a significant increase in traffic density, or average number of attendees per 100 square foot of exhibition space. This means a targeted audience of qualified buyers, and fewer aisle-roaming nomads and so-called tire kickers.

That’s good news for Star Events and trade associations whose members want measurable results from their investment.


The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) reports that 82 percent of trade show attendees have the power to recommend, specify and/ or make final purchasing decisions. More importantly, 49 percent come to trade shows with purchasing intent.

“Attendance for this first-ever show will be owners, managers, buyers, chefs, investors and other professionals in the hospitality and restaurant industries,” says MufiHannemann, president and CEO of Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association. “We want to bring together the decision-makers with the local and national vendors who provide the goods and services vital to our businesses.

“Our ultimate goal is to make this the premier hospitality and restaurant trade show in the Pacific Basin, attracting vendors and industry insiders from throughout this region,” he projects.


That tracks with trends cited by CEIR that sees geographic diversity as a feature of modern trade shows. Attendee surveys show 56 percent coming from outside the convention locale.

About 42 percent don’t plan to participate in other exhibitions or events that year, meaning companies aren’t likely to interact with them if they choose not to exhibit. Five percent spend an average of nine hours per show visiting exhibits.

Tom Jones, incoming chairman of Hawai‘i Restaurant Association (HRA) and president/co-owner of REI Food Service LLC, hails the collaborative effort and empowerment inherent in Hawai‘i Hotel & Restaurant Show.

“By involving the industry stakeholders, the show is sure to grow and transform year over year to better service the association members, industry professionals and culinary education communities,” he asserts.

That’s meaningful for exhibitors who invest heavily in their presence at trade shows.

Exhibitors pay for booth space rental, design and production of a professional display, shipping of booth and equipment, and costs to unload a booth and move onto the show floor.

Additionally, there are travel and accommodation expenses for staff manning the booth and marketing materials, as well as samples and promotional items to hand out.

But the return on investment is sizable when considering the cost of face-to-face meetings of qualified buyers at trade shows versus ad hoc field sales leads.

Exhibit Surveys Inc. claims 54 percent of sales initiated from an exhibition lead require three or fewer sales calls to close.

“This show is an all-inclusive resource that brings the best of Hawai‘i and the Pacific Rim together,” says Francis.

“We are also pleased to announce that a portion of the event proceeds will go to the HLTA and HRA student scholarship funds,” he adds.


“Workforce development, hospitality scholarships and mentoring opportunities are high priorities,” states Hannemann. “HLTA funds nearly 60 scholarships for high school and college students every year. For the past 14 years, our Citizen-Scholar Awards of $1,000 have gone to a top senior from each of our 42 public high schools in Hawai‘i, with an additional $2,500 going to the top senior representing each county.”

He adds, “For many years, we’ve been granting six awards to college students at the University of Hawai‘i and elsewhere, majoring in travel industry management or related fields.”

According to Jones, “Our association started a nonprofit charitable Education Foundation in 2018 in order to increase its annual scholarship program beyond assisting students with tuition at the local community college culinary programs. The new foundation’s board of directors is currently working on several fundraising activities and events, while the Hawai‘i Hotel & Restaurant Show provides additional opportunities for scholarship fundraising and educational activities for hospitality career-minded students.”

The Hawai‘i Hotel & Restaurant Show is the start of more trade and consumer events that will bring people together to explore the offerings and opportunities at a robust marketplace. Educational seminars on timely topics also will extend the broad reach to new and diverse audiences.

“The show will feature educational seminars and presentations to highlight developments in our industries, ranging from cybersecurity to new trends in hospitality. It’ll be a terrific opportunity for networking and establishing business-to-business relationships,” Hannemann states.

Because the hospitality industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world, it is characterized by continual technological advancements. These advancements, industry experts say, have done wonders to improve organization, efficiency and customer experience.

However, they have also brought with them major issues that affect the way hotels and restaurants operate. Among these issues are: constantly changing expectations of customers; continued technological changes and innovation; political and social challenges; skilled labor shortage, staff turnover and irregular work hours; and booking and revenue challenges.

Trade shows are ideal venues for colleagues to examine these issues and share their experiences and solutions.

“We are challenging exhibitors to focus on what’s new,” affirms Shintaku. “The show will highlight products, technology, business practices and innovations that empower business.

“I see this sales and marketing event as one of the points of a star. Our mission is communicating with the people of Hawai‘i to help them make informed and wise decisions. The diverse capabilities and resources of OPI and local associations can only mean a bright outlook for all.”

Registration and exhibitor applications for the 2019 Hawai‘i Hotel & Restaurant Show are available at