Health and wellness industry encouraged to expand focus

Business leaders addressed the Kaua‘i Health and Wellness Association Thursday, offering tips to members on how to better market their businesses.

Speaking about the industry’s interaction with visitors, Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau Executive Director Sue Kanoho said great customer service is the best advertisement for any business, though marketing the industry in national travel publications can’t hurt.

A recent study commissioned by the bureau and conducted by SMS Research found that 97 percent of visitors surveyed said their visit to Kaua‘i provided relaxation and rejuvenation.

Only 38 percent said their visit was motivated by a wellness experience, which leaves room for growth, Kanoho said.

She encouraged the group to petition the state tourism agency, the Hawai‘i Visitors Bureau, to get on board with health and wellness as an attraction for the islands.

Health and wellness is one of the county Office of Economic Development’s six industry clusters targeted for growth.

The office’s executive director, Beth Tokioka, said all indications point to rising jobs that are often high-paying.

According to Tokioka, the industry is big in numbers but doesn’t have a collective voice for advocacy. She encouraged the group to join the Kaua‘i Health and Wellness Association and help it become a vehicle for networking, marketing and advocacy for their common needs.

Finally, Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce President Randy Francisco told the group that health and wellness practitioners are part of the business community and should see themselves as such.

On Kaua‘i, the chamber’s membership includes 62 percent small businesses with 10 or fewer people. He encouraged the industry to be involved in the community

“Part of positive business practices is being an advocate and having a voice in your community,” Francisco said.

Kaua‘i Health and Wellness Association President Char Ravelo agreed, telling the group that now is the time to step outside of the industry’s bubble and reach a wider demographic.

“We need to speak to those who are standing outside looking in wondering what we’re doing,” she said.

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