Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park's Strategic Approach to Guest Donation Possibilities

The Friends of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, in consultation with the Park, has been working with the park concessioner to develop a Guest Donation Program for the park lodge, the Volcano House. The starting point was an exploration of interest with the Lodge manager. Information regarding the opportunity to help support the work of the Park and the Friends of Hawai'i Volcanoes will be displayed at the check-in counter and in the guest rooms. Materials will explain how funds from the check-off program will be used and encourage guests to join the friends group as members. This information will help ensure guests understand how the program works and how their donation can help support the park.

Working with the Park, the Friends are also considering guest lodging check-off programs at bed and breakfasts near the Park and at hotels in Hilo, the largest nearby City a half-hour away. There are also less traditional partners to consider, the resurgent cruise ship industry in Hawaii and their ground tour operators who bring guests up the Park from Hilo as well as independent tour businesses and rental car companies.

All these businesses benefit from the drawing power of the Park as the most visited Big Island destination attraction. Visits to the Park stimulate their businesses. High quality park experiences enhance their guests' experience, word of mouth publicity, lengths of stay, repeat visits, and as a result their business return bottom lines. Tourism in Hawaii has come back strong in the last few years and suggests this is a good time to cultivate these types of cause-related partnerships.

In addition to underscoring the value of what the Park and the staff and Friends provide in support of quality visitor experiences, the opportunity to share in the park resource stewardship and restoration and educational programs offers a strategic marketing edge to the companies who participate.

The challenge is how to cultivate mutually beneficial partnerships. Friends staff has recognized the need to establish and grow different relationships with business owners prior to approaching them about establishing a lodging or donation check-off program. Strategies to develop these relationships include:

  • Inviting businesses owners and industry officials to openings and dedications of new park attractions and programs
  • Participating in gatherings and professional meetings of these business - you have to establish a two-way dialogue
  • Providing them special park tours and experiences
  • Involving business managers and staff in park site and species restoration projects as team building opportunities

These engagements will cultivate awareness, interest and desire to support the Park.