March, 2012:

Aloha Spirit

Sunrise Haleakala

Top of Haleakala Crater - Sunrise - Have you ever felt on top of the world?

Is the “Aloha Spirit” of Hawaii really just
great Customer Service in disguise?

If you’ve ever experienced the Hawaiian islands, you’ll know and have heard all about the “Aloha Spirit”. The Aloha Spirit usually conjures up visions of flowers, surf, sandy beaches, tropical drinks, warmth and relaxation, but so do many other locations in the world. So what is it? Is it about the way you are welcomed and treated by everyone? Is this truly what Customer Care is about?

I’ve been going to these Islands for 30 years. I’ve traveled the world. I’ve pondered these questions frequently as I return now so often: What is the magic of the Hawaiian islands? What is the Aloha Spirit? Why does it generate such great vibes if you’ve ever had the pleasure of walking on her shores?

Honestly, compared to other destinations – and I travel a lot – I’ve noticed almost everyone holds doors, readily give directions, smiles, greets you (even the housekeeping staff when you meet them in the hallway). If you smile, they smile back even greater. I don’t believe they do this because they are constantly reminded they depend on me (the tourist), it is just the Hawaiian culture. So, can other organizations create an Aloha Spirit?

Why Does the Aloha Sprit need to alive & well in Hawaii?
Those in Hawaii delivering the services to tourists could single-handedly put their economy into turmoil if they chose to stop treating their customer extremely well. Why does the Aloha Spirit need to be alive and well at all times?

You Have to Fly – You Can’t Drive
These islands and their population are very dependent on tourism and the suppliers that support it. They are all integrated and inter-dependent – and if they are not delivering “good customer service”, people don’t readily go; it can be too much of a hassle. The Islands’ biggest problem is access to the islands. You have to get on an airplane, you can’t drive. Hawaii Tourism Authority and the airports must constantly try to attract and convince airlines to bring passengers. Travellers are completely dependent on the airline carriers.

Even Inter-Island – No Ferry, No Driving
For many travelers, it can be a complicated process, deciding on best airfares and schedules, accommodations, car rentals, activities, what to bring, what to wear, ground transportation. And what about connections to outer islands once you get there? Especially if you are traveling from outside of the United States or Canada. Last time I checked, there was no Customs agent to clear you at the outer islands when you land, which forces you to land in Honolulu first and then grab a connection. This adds costs for flights and adds up for a family fast. However, somehow most people seem to budget or decide it’s worth it. Why? I believe it’s the service of this integrated environment of suppliers, and not only the greetings but everything else you get in this integrated system to help the traveler, such as: the Aloha Spirit which is even seen within the police (just behave yourself and go down to watch the festivities on Halloween night on the main strip in Waikiki – it’s even safe enough to walk home alone at midnight); one doesn’t get sick on the water (thanks to the city engineering); the laws are typically easy to understand and are upheld; and the money exchange is easy. Top it off with a floral lei (even if you buy it yourself) and you will find yourself getting into the Aloha Spirit.

I go because as a customer, I feel welcome every time. Today, I wish everyone some Aloha Spirit. Can your organization build the Aloha Spirit? I believe they can with the right leadership, the right messaging and training. I’ve seen cultures change firsthand with the clients I’ve worked with.

If you want to see some great places to visit, even as a virtual tourist, here are….

My favourite Aloha locations to visit:


Sandy Beach – Don’t swim here without your flippers –

Haunama Bay

Of course Waikiki – No need to rent a car unless you want to tour the island (and a little Hawaiian music to go with it). Don’t tell Enterprise I told you not to rent a car. However I’ve found them the best customer experience on the island to rent from.

The Big Island – Hawaii

Volcano National Park

Akaka Falls

Geothermal Pools


Poipu Beach Park

Waimea Canyon (The Grand Canyon of Hawaii)

Napali Shores (17 mile Hike (Take a guide and camp one night)


Haleakala Sunrise (Your Bucket List Must)

Mamma’s Fish House (Food and location – Excellent) Just watch the Intro – Fun!!!


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