With the customer journey shifting away from traditional advertisements and marketing methods I wondered how easy or hard would it be to plan an “off-the-commercial-path” trip to Oahu. Even though I’m a AAA member, I wanted to avoid going into their “shop” and have them plan a typical tourist vacation. This was not my agenda, for business, I’m constantly testing new digital marketing tools that could impact the way businesses can get more user attention. So I put myself in the Prevailing Path customer persona to track the process.

Instead of the AAA tour books, I used Google to research more localized places to stay on the island and decided on the Punaluu area, which is right next to the North Shore. Aside from their iconic surf, the area is pretty low-key, not much commercialism, and a lot of neighborhoods in between the Kamehameha Highway and mountains. Once I had that targeted, finding airline deals was probably the biggest challenge. Using the CheapOair website was a tremendous help putting the travel plans in motion through United Airlines. Found a car through Enterprise, and a cheaper “condo” style place to say using HomeAway.com.

Google Local GuideAfter a long flight, we landed in Honolulu, which is an older style airport. There weren’t any hawaiian ladies handing us leis either, remember this was a localized style trip. Had no problems navigating the airport to find Enterprise, which had the car ready, we jumped in plugged in my iPhone and fired up the Waze App. Boom, just like that I was driving on a busy highway in Honolulu heading up the coast to Punaluu, just like how it was digitally mapped out. Full disclosure, I’m a Google Local Guide and absolutely believe 100% in Google Maps and the reviews. Unlike Yelp and other managed review-based apps, it seems like Google Maps has their hand on the local pulse. Since joining the Local Guide program, I’ve contributed 230 reviews, uploaded over 600 photos, and provided over 700 answers for their community. So when I travel, I rely on other Google Map users/guide recommendations and the local business profiles I’m searching for.

Finding our condo building was a little difficult, mainly because the area was remote, and there were a lot of trees along the road. There weren’t many large signs, no chain restaurants, and we had to drive a ways up the road for groceries. It was exactly what we were looking for. After getting settled in, we found a binder with brochures in our place, and matched some of those places on Google Maps that looked interesting to explore.

We mapped out:

  1. Haleiwa Joe’s – A great local restaurant with outstanding reviews
  2. Grocery Stores – Tamura’s Market and Foodland
  3. Diamond Head – State Park
  4. Local Craft Breweries – Kona Brewing, Maui Brewing
  5. The Old Magnum PI House – Robin’s Nest
  6. Pearl Harbor
  7. Waimea Valley – Organic gardens
  8. Polynesian Cultural Center – Island history & research

Through digital apps and local interaction we were able to organize and plan each day of our trip easily. Cell signals and wifi were plentiful, never had an issue with service. It’s pretty amazing being able to search a location or business virtually before arriving. Through digital technologies we are more connected than ever.

Check out the 360ยบ Pano I shot in the Diamond Head Crater:

After taking this pano, we hiked the summit trail, which was a nice little workout, but not hard enough to discourage families with young children, or senior citizens. There were some steps towards the top, but most of the trail are smooth pathway.

Using Google Maps we found the old Robin’s Nest estate and tide pool from the 80’s show Magnum Pi. We captured more photos and content using the Photofy App, the easiest content creation tool for iOS and Android.