“What’s so special about Hawaii is that you feel like you’re in a completely different place that’s not even in the US.”
Hawaii incentive options abound and Jerry Wilson & Associates Inc., an independent manufacturers representative firm that serves the pet and animal health industries, feels lucky enough to have hosted its annual sales conference four times on the islands since 2004. The latest four-day event was held at the 602-room Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa on Kauai this past December—making Kauai the fourth island for the company to visit after Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.
“Kauai may be a little more expensive and a little more difficult to get to, but you’re paying for that more secluded and tropical feel when you’re there,” says Jerry Wilson, president of Jerry Wilson & Associates Inc. “Many of the people who had been [to Hawaii] before commented that it’s now their favorite island.”
At every one of the company’s Hawaii conferences, the aloha spirit and Hawaiian culture inevitably take center stage. At the December event, creating that sense of place started when all 104 attendees were given leis upon arrival at the Grand Hyatt, and that theme continued on with live entertainment, creative team building activities and authentic food throughout the conference.
“It’s a huge reward for people to go to an exotic destination like Hawaii,” says Wilson. “Having been there numerous times over the years, I’ve discovered the aloha spirit and the way people treat attendees. I wanted to show our groups what that spirit is about and the beauty of it all.”
One way the company incorporates the local culture into its events is at the opening and closing dinners. At the Grand Hyatt, the same trio of two musicians and a hula dancer performed both nights. “They were just what we wanted—nice authentic Hawaiian music and hula dancing,” says Wilson. “The [hula dancer] even got people involved enough to learn some of the dance moves.”
Food wise, the dinners also introduced attendees to traditional Hawaiian cuisines such as kalua pork and indigenous fruits and vegetables. Even walking around the resort, attendees were immersed in a tropical setting with Hawaiian music playing in the backdrop and resident parrots flying throughout the lobby atrium. In between meetings, attendees had the opportunity to learn how to play the ukulele or make leis or bowls. Craftsmen and craftswomen also lined the walkways, selling a variety of art and other local, artisanal trinkets.
“There are lots of special things that you can get in Hawaii that you just can’t get anywhere else,” says Wilson.
One such example was the tubing adventure with Kauai Backcountry Adventure that the attendees participated in, tubing down the ditches and canals that once delivered water from the rainforest to sugar cane fields. Along the way, attendees learned about the area’s Chinese heritage before concluding the experience with an outdoor lunch. Another example was the helicopter tours the group took with Sunshine Helicopters, which picked attendees up directly at the Grand Hyatt.
The group also always organizes a golf tournament, which is one of the main reasons Wilson chose the Grand Hyatt. Attendees could literally walk to the course without having to take a shuttle or other form of transportation.
“What’s so special about Hawaii is that you feel like you’re in a completely different place that’s not even in the US,” says Wilson. “We’re [currently] celebrating our 24th year, and there’s a good chance that we’ll be back to Hawaii for our 25th in 2017.”