Hawaii tourism campaign banks on facial recognition tech

HTA ad campaign banks on facial recognition technology
Leslie Dance (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Leslie Dance (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Ashley Taber (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Ashley Taber (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Image: Hawaii News Now
Image: Hawaii News Now

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Tourism Authority is teaming up with Expedia to use facial recognition technology to target millions of potential new visitors.

The ad campaign will go after Millennials, from 18 to 34 years old, who represent a large segment of potential first-time visitors.

"This is the first marketing campaign of its type," said Leslie Dance, Hawaii Tourism Authority's vice president of marketing and product development. "Expedia has never done it with facial recognition with drone footage. And no other destination has done it."

The tech requires users to give their permission to be used in the program.

A screen will show users drone video of various visitor experiences in Hawaii and change based on their facial cues.

"You look at the overall thing and you react, and the facial recognition (program) will see that," said Dance. "Ultimately, you're served up the kind of vacation you might like, the itinerary you might like."

Several visitors said they were intrigued by the project.

"I think it's very cool," said Oklahoma visitor Ashley Taber. "I think I don't have to think about it. You just know how I feel by my facial expressions."

For privacy reasons, the HTA said Expedia doesn't store personal information.

"I think as long as there's privacy and there's not someone else that can log in, it would be a great way," Taber said.

The HTA is spending $7 million on this and half a dozen other new technologies.

They said it's important to invest this money in research and development to keep Hawaii tourism competitive.

The HTA also said Expedia can reach up to 90 million potential visitors.

"We've had five great years but we need not rest on our laurels and we need to make sure we're doing things to attract the next generation of traveler," Dance said.

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