Science Pub-Hawai'i: Using crowdsourcing to make travel meaningful

February 13, 2014

HONOLULU — Each year, millions of tourists visit Hawai‘i. However, many of their trips may not directly benefit our local communities. By tapping into crowdsourcing — asking lots of people to contribute ideas — travelers can become agents of social change.

Thomas Kohler, Ph.D.

At the Feb. 24 Science Pub-Hawai‘i, Thomas Kohler, an associate professor of Marketing at Hawai‘i Pacific University, will discuss how to use crowdsourcing to create social innovation. Kohler is the founder of travel2change, a nonprofit that connects travelers and locals to create change here and abroad. He will share research around the crowdsourcing platform provided by travel2change.

Through crowdsourcing, local nonprofit organizations and community members are invited to submit ideas for meaningful travel experiences. The best experiences are then offered for travelers to join. Last year, one project invited tourists to walk along the main highway on the Big Island to pick up debris, raise awareness of the situation and promote better trash disposal choices.

“The pool of meaningful travel experiences inspires travelers to use their passion to create a positive impact during their trip to Hawai‘i,” Kohler said.

Organizations — including businesses — increasingly employ crowdsourcing to harness the collective energy and creativity of large numbers of contributors. While the number of crowdsourcing social innovation platforms is increasing, many fail to engage a critical mass of users who are both willing and capable to participate, according to Kohler.

“To tap into the crowd’s creativity and knowledge, we need to learn how to design crowdsourcing platforms that engage users and let them achieve their goals,” said Kohler, whose research has been published in journals including MIS Quarterly and Harvard Business Manager.

In addition to presenting his research at Science Pub-Hawai‘i, Kohler and travel2change will also kick off the 2014 Hawai‘i Challenge to find ideas for meaningful travel experiences that benefit communities in the Islands.

Presented by HPU, Science Pub-Hawai‘i is held on the waterfront outdoor stage at Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, Aloha Tower Marketplace, at 6 p.m. This well-attended informal showcase of research and scholarship is for people who like to learn and discuss timely topics. The event is free, and though no RSVP is required, Science Pub friends are encouraged to let others know they’re coming via Facebook, www.facebook.com/sciencepubhawaii. Seats fill briskly so consider arriving early to enjoy Gordon Biersch’s acclaimed food and drink.

Learn more at www.hpu.edu/sciencepub-hawaii.