Leaders of 21 countries in the Asia-Pacific region will meet in Honolulu the second week of November. The APEC meeting is fueling some civic projects, like street repairs, and impacting social issues, like the increased use of surveillance cameras. It is also prompting many local firms to think more broadly about how they do business.
While many Hawaii businesses are experienced in working with Japanese visitors, few have a deep cultural awareness of the expectations of visitors from other Asia-Pacific countries. But the Asian way of doing business is deeply embedded in Hawaii Aloha Travel. It is more than a superficial attempt to be sensitive to other cultures, it is the way this home-grown Hawaii business has evolved from the two founders to become one of the top 10 travel agencies in Hawaii with 15 agents.
Yaling Yu Fisher is a native of Taiwan who received bachelors and masters degrees in the United States. She worked in Silicon Valley during the dot com boom of the mid to late 1990s. She began Hawaii Aloha Travel (HAT) in 2000 with husband Bruce Fisher, a former journalist with a degree in psychology. HAT is an online travel and tour agency focused on visitors to Hawaii. The business has received industry awards for its innovative approach to travel and Yaling and Bruce have received individual awards for sales, service and business development.
The success of Hawaii Aloha Travel is due in part to the Asian approach that Yaling brought from Taiwan: building personal relationships and working one to one, face to face that is used within the company and extended to customers. This philosophy has resonated with travelers from many countries who visit Hawaii. It is especially compatible with visitors from China and Taiwan who have become HAT customers. Because many Hawaii hotels and tourist attractions are not familiar with Asian expectations, Yaling has served as cultural interpreter and liaison between her guests and their local hosts.
While personal service is a hallmark of the HAT approach to travel, Yaling and Bruce have an eye on the global market. They participated in a recent tech and social media trip to Shanghai with Geeks on a Plane and [re]think: Shanghai. The goal of the trip is to promote cross-border connections through shared interests in tech, innovation, sustainability and entrepreneurship. Hawaii Aloha Travel is a fusion of east and west that was born in Hawaii through the partnership of Yaling and Bruce Fisher. It thrives through a recognition of what each culture contributes to the personal and business relationship.
September 25th, 2011