The Guam Visitors Bureau on Tuesday launched the 2018 Shop Guam e-Festival with key improvements to the mobile app, along with eight new social media ambassadors and a campaign promoting visitors' experiences from their perspective.

The e-Festival runs from Nov. 10, 2018, to Feb. 10, 2019. The event began in 2012 as a global campaign aimed "to create an interactive shopping experience highlighting Guam as a modern, fashionable and diverse destination to shop," according to GVB.

During a press conference in the center court of the Micronesia Mall, GVB Chairman Milton Morinaga described the campaign as the largest shopping event in the Western Pacific. "It showcases Guam's tax-free shopping and island activities," Morinaga said.

This year, GVB revived the festival ambassador feature.

Pilar Laguaña, GVB's director of global marketing, said through social media, these international ambassadors inspire others to visit Guam – and to avail of Shop Guam's exclusive offers.

Laguaña said people are looking at Instagram and other platforms to decide on their travel and shopping plans.

Festival ambassadors

GVB's festival ambassadors this year have a combined fan base on social media of more than 12 million, according to the visitors bureau.

• Sai Sai, from China, is a fashion and lifestyle influencer who has 11,000 followers on Weibo and 649,000 followers on Little Red Book.

• Kabee Cheung, from Hong Kong, is a social media influencer, model and beauty enthusiast who has 53,000 Instagram followers.

• Chihiro Inohana is from Japan and is launching her own accessory brand, Chiro. She's known as a Guam expert among her followers. She has 45,000 Instagram followers and 12,000 Twitter followers.

• Jin So Young, from South Korea, inspires her followers in beauty, fashion and travel. She has 40,600 Instagram followers and 8,447,997 followers on Naver, a South Korean online platform.

• Eliana Lee Yu, from the United States, was born and raised on Guam. She works as an influencer, model and consultant in Los Angeles, California. She has 45,200 followers on Instagram and 10,000 daily visitors to her website.

• Denise Laurel, from the Philippines, is a TV and movie actress, singer, social media influencer and mother. She has 1,100,000 followers on Instagram and 1,410,000 followers on Twitter.

• Karina Titova, from Russia, is a blogger, wife and mother. She shares motherhood, lifestyle and beauty advice with her 149,000 followers on Instagram.

• Lien Hsia, from Taiwan, is a lookalike to Taiwanese celebrity Barbie Hsu. Hsia features fashion from Taiwan fashion labels to international design houses. She has 112,093 followers on Instagram and 148,631 followers on Facebook.

Laurel, one of the ambassadors, said as a social media influencer she can promote the event and the Guam brand.

"Who doesn't love shopping? You can ask anybody young and old and all they like to do is shop. ... I guess everybody loves shopping and I am on a mission to get the best prices for all my followers," she said.

Improving the app

This year, GVB also launched an improved Shop Guam app for visitors and residents.

"In 2016, we launched the ShopGuam e-festival as a 100 percent mobile campaign and we did away with our traditional coupon booklets," said Jon Nathan Denight, GVB president and chief executive officer.

The new app features 168 participating local merchants and more than 260 special offers. GVB also added a QR code feature to the app.

"It is the perfect time for this holiday season in getting all of the exclusive offers that can be found only on our state-of-the-art mobile app," Denight said. "The best part of this GVB signature event is it is absolutely free for both our island residents and visitors, and they can redeem the offers from various participating vendors."

The Shop Guam app can be downloaded for free at the Apple app store and Google Play store.

Jason Lin, president of Talent Basket, helped create the Shop Guam app in 2013. According to Lin, Shop Guam has also attracted 1.8 million visitors to Guam during the campaign since 2012. GVB has worked with more than 784 local merchants in the past six years.

Lin said the total media value generated by ShopGuam in the past six years has exceeded $68 million. The total mobile app downloads in the past six years reached nearly 130,000.