Business activity has definitely picked up in Kona in 2014. As a business that works with tens of small and medium-sized companies at any one time, we have our finger on the pulse of Kona business community.
Winter 2014 – Good Times Continue
Most of the tourism related businesses had a good high season: December to March. A lot of the rental condos were fully booked this winter, so the rental agencies, cleaning companies and realtors had a good winter.
We have seen a slight decrease in visitor numbers—down 3.9% year to date—but average length of stay—9.64 days—remained steady and, partly due to higher room rates, visitor spending was solid. Visit the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism website for a more data on the tourism sector.
The water and land activity providers, including snorkeling, scuba, land excursions and Mauna Kea tours all report, anecdotally, a solid winter.
Spring & Summer 2014
Kona Impact has been working with a wide range of businesses that are gearing up for a solid spring and summer. The retail, real estate, light manufacturing, construction and tourism sectors of the economy seem to be especially poised for a good near and mid-term future.
We have seen rental space in Kona becoming much less abundant that at any time in the past four or five years. This, of course, is good news for building owners, and not so good news for startups and those looking for retail space.
As usually happens in Kona, the less desirable spaces, mainly the back-of-the-building and the 2nd floor retail and restaurant space is more affordable and available, but these spaces are often tough to develop into viable businesses. If you are looking at this type of space, be sure to get a full history of the businesses that have been there, and, to the best of your ability, why the businesses are no longer there.
Strategies for Successful Kona Businesses
At the most fundamental level, a business can only exists if there is a need for the product or service. Figuring that out, of course, is the difference between many “vanity” type businesses that are viable and self-sustaining.
The good news is that Kona is such a small market that only a few businesses can exist profitably in each sector. There are a few areas of the local economy that only can support one business. Find what these are and you’ll fulfill a need and have a good business. Become too nichey, though, and you’ll not have a big enough customer base.