• Tiffany Mueller

New GPS Tours Provide Tourists In Hawaii Fresh Opportunities

Updated: Mar 28, 2019

Honolulu based app startup, Shaka Guide, producers of location-based audio tours have recently expanded their collection of tours with the release of five new Big Island tours. This adds to not only the Volcanoes National Park tour but also the other 11 available tours island-wide.

Volcanoes is undoubtedly a popular destination for tourists. But, we wanted to give visitors more options to explore the diversity found on Big Island,” noted Shaka Guide’s Director of Content, Tiffany Mueller.

With the release of our five newest Big Island tours, locals and tourists alike, now have the opportunity to completely circumnavigate the island on their own terms. Beyond Volcanoes, they can now explore everywhere from South and North Kohala, Kona and South Kona, the Hamakua coast, Hilo and the Saddle road, as well as Ka’u and South Point. It’s completely up to them whether they want to take all the tours or hand select the ones that appeal most to them,” Mueller added.

In addition to the Big Island tours, Shaka Guide is also preparing to build off the success of their driving tours as the company prepares to release a new format of tour: walking tours. They are currently in the final stages of launching two walking tours in their Oahu app. One taking customers through historic downtown Honolulu that visits Ali’iolani Hale, Honolulu Hale, and the Iolani Palace among other stops. The second walking tour takes customers on an hour-long stroll through Waikiki, teaching them about the rich history of the land prior to hotels that many tourists easily overlook.

The walking tours will use the same GPS based location technology to offer customers a unique tour experience allowing them to go at their own pace and decide when and where they want to stop and explore--something Shaka Guide co-founder, Andrew Fowers, says tour buses and other tour groups are not able to provide.

Shaka Guide co-founder, Andrew Fowers, with Makoto Tanihara - Deputy General Manager Corporate Planning and Administration at JTB Hawaii, Inc.

Fowers, who was recently named Tech Entrepreneur of the Year by the Hawaii Venture Capital Association in March, added, “I’m really passionate about telling stories at the right place and time.” Something he and Shaka Guide co-creator, Rita Fowers, have accomplished in their apps. As users drive or walk along the tour route, the Shaka Guide app uses the GPS in their customer's smartphone to trigger perfectly timed stories explaining Hawaiian culture and history, supplemented with Hawaiian music for a distinctive tour experience.

Leveraging this recent momentum, Shaka Guide has also set their sights on the Japanese market, with over 1.6 million visitors annually. To do this Shaka Guide has announced a partnership with the Japanese travel company JTB Hawaii, Inc. to create and market tours for the Japanese audience. Their goal is to capture a share of the Japanese app store market, which is expected to top $140 per device per year by 2022 according to a forecast report from by AppAnnie, a leading global provider of app market data. To put that into perspective, Japan’s projected app store spend is close to six times the global average, easily making it the highest per device spend level worldwide.

Fowers’ says of the partnership, "Our first launch in Hawaii was focused on getting a foothold in the English speaking market. Over the past 3 years, we have done that with now over 200,000 downloads per year with a third of them converting to paid users. Now, our next growth market is the growing free independent travelers (FIT) Japanese visitors to Hawaii. Our strategic partnership with JTB Hawaii, Inc. is a great opportunity for both companies to expand our customer base in not only here in Hawaii, but with sights on Japan and the US mainland as well."