Frank Haas is president of Marketing Management, a consultancy focused on travel and tourism clients and projects in Hawai‘i and internationally. He previously served as vice president and director of marketing for the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and was part of the team that developed the 2005-15 Tourism Strategic Plan.
Before speaking at a Zócalo/Daniel K. Inouye Institute “Pau Hana” event titled “How Much Tourism Is Too Much?” at Artistry Honolulu, he spoke in the green room about tourism books, attending three high schools, and the Rolls Royce-driving psychologist who changed his life.
What was the last book you read?
A book of New York Times crosswords was the last book I opened. The last book I read was The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver.
What’s the best book about tourism?
I read a book recently called The Naked Tourist. It’s by an adventure travel person (Lawrence Osborne) who went all around Asia, and spent time looking at medical tourism, and sampling some medical spas.
I have taught tourism, and my favorite book is called Leisure Travel: A Marketing Handbook by Stanley Plog. He’s got a wonderful chapter in that book about why destinations decline and fail.
You went to college and graduate school at Northwestern. What do you miss most about Chicago?
Not much, really. You’d think that Hawai‘i is radically different than Chicago. But what I liked about Chicago is the arts—the symphony, the whole art scene. And what I love about Hawai‘i is the symphony and the arts scene, which is great, but is on a smaller scale, so I’ve been able to interact it with more. We had a party once and had the musicians from the chamber orchestra play in our house.
What was your greatest vacation?
I’m such a frequent traveler that that’s a hard question. Six or seven times we’ve rented drive-it-yourself boats in France. You charter this boat and drive this boat along all day, then stop to play bridge and drink wine.
You served as dean of the Hospitality and Tourism program at Kapi‘olani Community College. What’s the hardest thing about being a community college dean?
I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy, so I’d answer that by saying one of the best things at community colleges in Hawai‘i is that they are open admission. All you have to do is graduate from high school. The challenge with that is you’re getting a lot of students who need a lot of remedial support. In a classroom, that means helping them with their writing and with their soft skills.
What is the biggest misconception Americans have about Hawai‘i?
It depends on where you are in America. On the East Coast, people say why should I go to Hawai‘i, isn’t it like the Caribbean? It isn’t. On the West Coast, the stereotype is I’ve been there once, and done it, and know all about it. But of course, there is so much here that’s subtle that takes some effort to really understand.
Where’d you go to high school?
I went to three different high schools. I graduated from Rocky River High School in Ohio. I also went to high school in Chicago and Philadelphia. My dad worked for the railroad and we moved around every couple years.
If you turned on your TV at home right now, what channel would most likely be on?
What teacher changed your life?
Steuart Henderson Britt, at Northwestern. He was a psychologist, a very successful psychologist who had two Rolls Royces, a Bentley, and a ‘57 Cadillac. He had a Van Dyke goatee in the 1970s, when that was unusual. He taught me to look at things very critically and through new eyes. Pretend you were from Venus, he’d say, and ask yourself: Why do you really care about this or that? Why do you dress like that? He had a Ph.D. in psychology, but he had an eight-year-old’s mentality about asking very fundamental questions.
What’s the craziest trip you ever took?
I went to Indonesia to look at purchasing a company down there … and the company kept changing its numbers, so I didn’t buy it.
Where would we most likely find you on a Sunday afternoon?
Probably napping. Or mowing the lawn. I do all my own yard work.