Insights from HSMAI’s Marketing Professional of the Year – Single/Multi-Unit: John White

John White, CRME, CHDM, CHBA, Director of Sales & Marketing at Kaanapali Beach Hotel will receive the single/multi-unit Marketing Professional of the Year during HSMAI’s Marketing Strategy Conference in Toronto on June 27.  

At Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel (known as Hawaii’s Most Hawaiian Hotel) and The Plantation Inn on Maui, John is responsible for global revenue and branding efforts.

Throughout White’s tenure, the hotel and Inn have garnered a coveted list of impressive accolades. Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel received Conde Nast Traveler’s 2021 Readers’ Choice Awards #1 Top Hotel in Maui and The Plantation Inn was rated the Best Inn on Maui.

Prior to joining KBH, White directed global event marketing campaigns for AT&T, Heineken, American Express, Pepsi and Nissan which included the Olympics and X Games. During his tenure at Nike, White was an integral player in launching the Tiger Woods brand.
White also serves on the HSMAI Hawaii chapter board and Hawaii Tourism Authority advisory roles. He also holds certifications in Revenue Management (CRME), Hotel Digital Marketing (CHDM) and Hotel Business Acumen (CHBA). 

How did you get your start in the industry? 

Well accidentally actually, my wife won the job coin toss, and she moved us from Colorado to Maui 20 years ago. I had an instant career pivot into the visitor industry. I had exposure to the hospitality industry on the client side while working for Nike launching the Tiger Woods golf brand. Additionally, while working for a marketing agency I developed branding and hospitality programs for global brands through events like the Olympics and X Games.   

How did you get involved with HSMAI? 

The HSMAI certifications was how I first experienced the strength of my HSMAI membership. I quickly obtained all three certifications to sharpen my skills and convinced others on the team to take the plunge. I then joined the HSMAI Hawaii chapter board and was thrilled to see all the opportunities HSMAI offered to grow and evolve our industry. The HSMAI Hawaii Chapter is roaring back to life after COVID decimated our industry. It is a very exciting time to be involved with HSMAI. 

During your time in the industry, how have you seen the marketing space evolve? 

In addition to the technology and distribution evolution, there has been a renewed sense of authenticity. Today travelers demand authentic and genuine experiences. They want tangible ESG efforts. Since we have all been story tellers of our brands, we now need to be more involved in the product development and guest experience creation. The concept of commercial strategy and branding is helping to break down barriers between departments to produce a more wholistic and authentic experience for both the guest and employees. 

How would you describe your approach to marketing strategy? 

I was fortunate to learn branding under some of the greatest marketing mentors while at Nike.  The “There is no finish line” vision permeates my approach to brand strategy. The basic marketing tenants of earned, owned and paid platforms still apply but how you leverage, customize and deliver is vital.  Additionally answering the who, what, where, when and why your product/service is relevant to the consumer is key.  I always look for collaboration opportunities with our visitors’ bureaus and like-minded local businesses to amplify our message and extend our limited budgets.  Start with a vision of what success looks like and build your road map accordingly.  

What would you say has been the best moment of your career? 

The best moments of my career have been to develop past and present teammates.  Giving them the curiosity bug, allowing them to fail and succeed, feeding their educational appetite, providing opportunities to grow, and watching them soar. 


Categories: Marketing
Insight Type: Articles