Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
It takes more than a village to market Polynesian Cultural Center
Honolulu HI Star-Bulletin 20Aug99 L4
By Russ Lynch: Star-Bulletin
In 1997, the Polynesian Cultural Center
in Laie, was a successful business attracting over 110,000 tourists
from Korea, employing BYU students to help finance their education
and entertaining nearly 2,800 people in an amphitheater show that
sometimes was staged twice nightly. Today, the PCC has lost over l2
percent of their center's traffic. The economic crisis that hit Asia
and Korea kept people at home and away from Island visits. "We had
100 percent of that market," recalled Lester W.B. Moore, President
and CEO since 1991. "They fell off by about 95,000. We lost all of
those and about $2 million in revenue overnight."
In an effort to revitalize and reinvent the Center, Moore and PCC's
marketing vice president, Dave Cole, talked proudly of the solutions
they found to keep their business open and thriving. A
million-dollar employee severance program and a year-round pass
boosted business by 1%. An obvious solution to cost cutting was
full-time employee lay offs. "Our officers and senior managers were
heartsick we had to do it, Moore said.
Acting on "inspiration from our Father in heaven" and the scriptural
admonition to "do unto others as we would do to ourselves" Moore went
about the strategy of downsizing. "It wasn't that they'd come in one
morning and the manager is sitting there with a blue slip," he said.
In the end, 82 employees opted to leave, cutting the full-time work
force by 25 percent. The employee severance program "cost us over a
million dollars," said Moore. "Our expenses this year are down 8.6
percent," he added.
Cole's marketing research began to kick in as they found new ways to
market, and sell the PCC. "In the repeat market, it is difficult for
us to continually get on the short list of visitors coming here,"
Cole said. "We try to keep things fresh, let people know what's new
out here," he said. Distance was always a barrier to repeat
customers. With an new year-round $l5.95 pass for Hawaii residents,
residents can now bring their out-of-town guests more often.
The Center employs BYU-Hawaii students who regularly work for $5.75 to
$8 an hours. "What the Polynesian Cultural Center is really all
about," Moore said, "is that it provides an opportunity for students
from the Pacific Rim and the South Pacific whose per capita income is
so low they could never afford this kind of tuition."