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Volunteer on Vacation in Hawaii

08/14/2009

My friend in Hawaii, Cherie Attix, runs the Hale Hookipa Inn Maui Bed and Breakfast. She also cares very deeply about her home, the Hawaiian Island of Maui, which she blogs about on her Maui blog. Recently, Cherie was recognized by O Magazine (part of Oprah Winfrey’s media empire) for her efforts in Voluntourism, or volunteer vacations in Hawaii.

Of course, this is an ethical, environmental, community-based project that I was more than happy to do for a reduced rate (provided I get to be a volunteer on vacation in Hawaii sponsor). I knew I would be encouraging people to give a little back to Hawaii when they visit, to help leave the place a little better than you found it.

When we lived on Maui for a year, I remember a trip to Haleakala National Park where a ranger stopped my wife and asked her not to take rocks from the crater as souvenirs. She held out her hands to reveal several Japanese brand cigarette butts (the most common kind to find up there), and he apologized and thanked her. It is in that spirit of stopping those butts from washing down the mountain into the ocean where turtles eat them and starve to death that we launched this site.

It’s chocked full of information (content is king) about volunteer projects on Maui. It’s organized so you can narrow right in on the organizations you’re most interested in.

From an SEO perspective, this site is gold. There’s all kinds of content, and plenty of room to expand. It’s Maui centric, for now, but could easily be adapted architecturally to include all the other islands: a potential mother load of long-tail key phrases (the percent of searches longer than 3 words is ever increasing as searches get smarter).

Volunteer on Vacation in Hawaii has all kinds of link bait potential… The original idea for the site was a page on the Maui B&B site about Voluntourism that was found, and linked to, by the good folks at O Magazine. Cherie’s been talking to all the organizations about whom we did a page, and we’re expecting all kinds of links back from a bunch of great-ranking .orgs! Maybe we’ll manage to get a .edu or a .gov!

Another aspect to the link bait is the do-the-right-thing mentality that powers a large part of the net. After all, this site is helping drive volunteers to projects that badly need them! It also drives money to them, and saves the volunteer a little too: Cherie is offering guests of her historic Hawaiian Bed and Breakfast a five percent discount on their stay, and is donating 5% of the cost of the stay to the organization for which the guest volunteers! This, of course, works as a marketing gem for Cherie, too!

So, that’s yet another link-bait aspect: save 5% on your stay and earn money for the organization of your choice! Volunteer! Talk about your Calls to Action! The ethical aspect of a site like this should not be underestimated. We’re hoping to drive a herd of volunteers into these programs, thereby making Hawaii a better place in terms of environment, culture, and community. We hope for the sake of all involved that this gets a lot of attention.

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