by Deanna Ting | July 22, 2014
Oahu, HI, continues to be a top incentive travel program destination for U.S.-based groups and at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, incentive programs are a mainstay at the 387-room property located on Oahu’s western shores.

“JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa at Ko Olina is well suited for incentives because the resort hotel provides a complete resort experience for the incentive profile programs,” explains Brian Soma, director of sales and marketing. “There is the beachfront location for guests to enjoy ocean swimming, snorkeling, and nearby activities at the Ko Olina Marina. The AAA Four-Diamond luxury resort hotel features spacious, well appointed guestrooms, on property guest experiences include the Ihilani Spa, restaurant dining options, beach recreation, nearby golf courses, and popular visitor attractions like the Arizona Memorial, USS Missouri, and Paradise Cove Luau.” asked Soma to tell us about a few of the incentive program trends he’s seen at the property, and here’s what he had to say: 

Industry Types
“The types of industries that JW Marriott Ihilani is booking for incentives are primarily insurance, financial, and high tech. It’s interesting to see emerging industries developing recognition-types of programs, like biotech, communications, energy-related and service companies,” says Soma.
Family-Friendly Programs
“We see incentive groups including spouses and families,” he says. “The JW Marriott Ihilani primarily attracts groups with spouses due to our luxury nature; however, we have seen families included in the traditional incentive award trips.”
“Incentives are also becoming more multi-generational, especially with multi-generational attendees that we see on family business trips such as independent brokers through different industries.”  
In-Demand Experiences 
“Any activities that involve golf, spa, and Hawaiian culture and/or history are the most popular activities,” says Soma.  “Outdoor adventures and wellness/health-based programs are also being offered as alternatives to the traditional golf option,” he adds.
“For one group that was looking for an interactive program that was quick and utilized the local culture, we created a ‘fish poke’ (raw fish dish) teambuilding event. The second example was when we had a client request a luau experience with a modern presentation. To meet their request, we created a deconstructed luau menu presented in appetizer-size servings at different food stations.”
“Because of our location, we also have a lot of on-property activities for groups to learn about and experience the Hawaiian culture,” Soma adds. “With the oceanfront location, we incorporate the ocean with our daily fish feeding off the beach. In addition to this, we have an in-depth program with a marine specialist who provides guests with  unique sting ray encounter. And for guests that like to learn at their own pace, the hotel provides a brochure and self-guided tour of native plants.
Increasing Technology
“We’re also seeing a demand for efficiency and technology increases,” says Soma.  “There are two services, in particular, that are gaining in popularity: the Ihilani Virtual Market, an online store providing advance order capability of amenities and services prior to arrival, and our JW Marriott Event Concierge app. It’s a smartphone app for planners that provides real-time links to our on-site operations team.”