Hawaii Visitors Cluster Based On Instagram, Food, Wellness, Localness

New data suggests Hawaii will fare just fine in today’s new travel paradigm. That is despite those who say it has gotten too expensive and that no Aloha is left. In fact, 85% of those surveyed will take two or leisure trips this year, and money appears to be no object for 74%.

Highlighting four trends that are inspirational for 2023 travel, the Amex Travel study (below) indicates Hawaii is where it needs to be:

1. Social media, TV shows, and films drive 75% of travelers. BOH: In this area, Hawaii scores a 10. Perhaps too much so. Read on for where they are obtaining this bent.

2. Food fuels 81% of travel choices. That’s true whether it be great restaurants, unique local food, and even cooking classes. While many younger visitors may even plan a trip around going to a restaurant. BOH: Hawaii scores a 8+ because, other than Honolulu, it sometimes misses the mark on both restaurants and cooking classes.

3. Wellness travel is a focus for 73%. This is now in high demand, from physical and mental health to self-care and therapeutic specialties. BOH: Hawaii scores a 9. This is undoubtedly up and coming in Hawaii, like with the Sensei Lanai and 1 Hotel Hanalei, among others. But it hasn’t reached the elevation of other destinations yet.

4. Local-first-centric attitude applies to 85%. Finding the uniqueness in travel, including finding and supporting communities and their hidden gems. BOH: Hawaii scores a solid ten here.

Amex travel study meth0dology.

The report is based on data derived from 2,000 US travelers, plus 1,000 additional travelers from a combination of Australia, Canada, India, Japan, and UK visitors. Respondents had a minimum household income of $70k and traveled by air no less than once per year. The stated margin of error is 3%.

Good News: People will travel more in 2023 and spend more money.

There is no slowdown indicated in this study, and in fact, travel appears to be accelerating. Coincidentally, Beat of Hawaii’s three editors are all on the road this spring, traveling from Hawaii to the mainland and worldwide. And we apparently aren’t alone.

Just one-half of those responding said they would spend more money in 2023 than in 2022. Also interesting is the generational aspect of traveling trends, in which Millenials and Gen Z respondents prioritized dream vacations over luxury purchases, and 79% of those said that travel is a budgetary priority.

Vacations are precious, and travelers are prioritizing personalized itineraries built around their passions, from planning an entire vacation for a single dinner reservation to getting the perfect video for TikTok — Amex Travel.

Social media and pop culture rise as Hawaii travel influencers.

Overall 75% of those responding said that social media inspires destination travel, such as to Hawaii. Whether it comes to where to travel, what to do, or places to eat, many travelers get their input from social media. So much so that 47% of Millennials and Gen Z said, for example, that they have planned trips around eating at a particular restaurant. For that same younger demographic, some 60% will seek out hotels with wellness and spa offerings.

It seems Instagram is one of the primary vehicles for visitors sharing Hawaii travel experiences and getting inspired. While that can work out great, it has also created some bad situations.

Braggadocius Instagram and Hawaii visitors.

Did Social Media + Guidebooks Help Spoil Things in Hawaii?

While photo-sharing is seemingly harmless and creates a modern-day postcard for ourselves and loved ones, it can also take on a different air and entirely miss the mark. Whereas some used to rely on destination travel bureaus (think Hawaii Tourism Authority and Hawaii Visitor and Convention Bureau), nothing could be further from the case now. Maybe that’s partly why the State of Hawaii is now thinking of essentially ditching them.

Now it is social media that defines Hawaii travel marketing and hugely influences Hawaii visitor behavior. Mixed in is the unrelenting quest for photos and videos that sometimes share egocentric, self-serving, and largely status-elevating behavior.

More Haiku Stairs Emergency Air Rescues Follows Criminal Trespassing

Millennials, Gen Z, Instagram, and Hawaii travel.

Overtourism in Hawaii, especially in pristine areas, is a serious problem. And when too many Instagram-fueled travelers arrive, they can create big problems. All in the name of Instagram selfies. This has led to trespassing and other negative visitor issues. These have ranged from illegally placed and photographed weddings to trespassing in dangerous places and more, mainly in the name of social media.

Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources said of this phenomenon, “It’s this entitlement mentality that we’re trying to penetrate, unfortunately without universal success.”

How far will you go for Instagram?

The lead photo is of South Point’s Papakolea Beach. There, the environment and the coral reef have been seriously damaged. This is one of just a few green sand beaches in the world where the color emanates from olivine, a silicate mineral.

It has become an Instagrammer-driven penchant for visiting one of the world’s only green sand beaches. That is combined with illegal off-roading for financial gain. Ready to move on to their next trophy, visitors, who can only legally access the beach via a 2.5-mile hike, instead team up with locals with trucks to get shuttled to the magnificent beach for $20.

And look no further than TripAdvisor for help with this, where a forum comment said, “Where do you catch the shuttle to the green sand beach?” And yet, largely unaware, those 4WD shuttles are destroying the land. While the state says it has no budget for enforcement. Even on sites like AllTrails, comments include the suggestion of hopping a ride, with barely a mention of the deleterious effects or the fact that it is illegal.

How important is social media to you in planning where to go in Hawaii?


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3 thoughts on “Hawaii Visitors Cluster Based On Instagram, Food, Wellness, Localness”

  1. I am absolutely appalled that a high percentage travel on food based. For me personally, it is a slap in the island face, to over load and wear out Maui because others want to come and experience food! This island should be about the land, and its beauty. Not the resort pools, entertainment for the kids, etc. It just makes me sick when I see social media, posting photos and people asking, “what can I do today on Maui”. OMG, I really miss the old days when people came to the island wanting to experience, the quiet, the beauty of the land and the original people. Even though hawaiians dont like mainlanders, at least they would friendly back in the day to those that honored the land and knew about the history and its people.

  2. I was looking at the booking schedule for the condo complex we have been using for many years when traveling to Hawaii. What I have noticed is that there are no longer as many long term stays that there once were for this year. Almost all of the stays are about 4 days in length and nothing more. The booking schedule is still fairly full but, with more days in between bookings.
    That would put more people on aircraft.

  3. I love how the millennials and GenZ act so eco conscious and yet are some of the worst offenders as far as taking care of our wild spaces. The National parks are being overrun with IG picture takers and are being trashed. It is really sad. I hope we can all do better.

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