GoHawaii App Is Fun and Informational, Offers Island-Style Emojis

Helping visitors experience Hawaii safely is a significant aspect of the GoHawaii app, which contains important advice for ocean activities, hiking and weather conditions on each island.

by Allison Schaefers, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser / August 29, 2016
Hawaii Tourism Authority

(TNS) -- The GoHawaii app, a mobile reference guide for travelers created by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, hit more than 7,000 downloads in the first couple of weeks after its debut.

The free app, which launched Aug. 8, offers travel and safety tips for Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii island. The app doesn’t have any commercial content or advertisements.

Through Tuesday the app was downloaded 4,787 times by iOS users and 2,240 times by Android users.

“That’s actually phenomenal. Most apps don’t reach 10,000 downloads until the first two or three months,” said Mike King, vice president of interactive design for Ikayzo, the firm HTA hired in January for $90,116 to design and develop the app.

The app, which can be downloaded in the Google Play Store and the Apple iTunes Store, is offered in English, German, Japanese, Korean, simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese. So far, app users from Japan, the mainland and China have dominated the downloads. However, downloads also have been made by users from Canada, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and France.

“Japan had about 48 percent of the audience, the U.S. about 20 percent and China about 10 percent. The rest is broken up amongst other countries,” King said.

HTA brand manager Jadie Goo said one of the reasons that the app got so much traction in China is that its release fell on Aug. 9, which is a romantic holiday in China.

“Our partners ran a campaign about how to subtly tell your boyfriend that you want to go to Hawaii — download the app on your boyfriend’s phone,” Goo said. “I thought it was very clever but not subtle.”

King said the most popular screens are the app’s destination screens, which allow users to see Hawaii’s wide variety of sites, activities, special events and cultural festivals.

“The GoHawaii app is a fun way to learn about Hawaii while having travel and safety information that people need to know about and have access to at all times,” said Randy Baldemor, HTA chief operating officer.

Helping visitors experience Hawaii safely is a significant aspect of the GoHawaii app, which contains important advice for ocean activities, hiking and weather conditions on each island. King said the travel-smart pages were the second most popular screen.

“For all locals, we take so many things for granted, but visitors and first-timers may have never been in the ocean. That was me, 20 years ago, when I first came to Hawaii,” Goo said. “This app is about more than leveraging. It’s about sending a message out to the world that Hawaii cares about visitors and their safety.”

King said the third most popular app screen was the “my list” section, which offers visitors the chance to add content or answer a questionnaire that steers them to appropriate recommendations.

A special app feature is the “Locomoji” — Hawaii-inspired emojis that can be shared with family and friends. Locomojis include images of an ukulele, aloha shirt, erupting volcano, shave ice and Spam musubi, among many others.

Baldemor said enhancements that allow the app to provide push notifications and send alerts in crises are in development. The next phase also will allow for offline support, 3-D interactive video displays, more social media integration and better tablet displays. Interactive advertising with local vendors also is being considered.

King said users are spending more than three minutes on the app and looking at seven pages or more, when a typical viewing session for other apps can be 10 to 30 seconds.

“About 25 percent of our audience is coming back, too,” King said. “That’s really great.”

©2016 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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