What’s your take on the state of Hawai‘i’s tourism industry in recent years?
Hawai‘i remains a highly desired destination for visitors from the mainland United States, Canada and Asia. The state is in a strong position of growth, which is leading to new development and attracting major brands. According to the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, over 780,000 visitors came to the Hawaiian Islands in August 2016, the most ever recorded for the month of August. This extended Hawai‘i’s streak to 19 consecutive months of yearoveryear growth in arrivals.
According to STR Inc., Hawai‘i hotels generated a record-breaking $1.55 billion in total hotel revenue for the months of June, July and August. For the first time in history, room revenue alone surpassed the billion-dollar mark over the summer months.
Another significant topic in the travel industry is capturing the business of millennial travelers. Hawai‘i is ready to seize this large segment of visitor business, as our destination offers unique adventure, natural beauty and ultimately an authentic experience, all without needing a passport or having to learn a new language.
How does your company set its properties and services apart from other hotels and resorts?
We’re known for hightouch customer service and an unparalleled selection of accommodations to suit just about any lifestyle, taste or budget. As an integrated group, we’ve further broadened our strategic partnerships and can deliver more robust market intelligence; we have a team of sales reps who sell across all five brands globally; we’ve developed direct connectivity with more travel partners to make the booking process easier; we offer a year-round cash-back bonus program because we recognize what is important to our travel partners—cash in their pockets.
We’re also the only hotel and resort management group that manages Hilton properties on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu and Hawai‘i Island. We will be managing the world’s largest Holiday Inn Express when it opens in Waikiki in 2017. We have the capabilities and expertise to navigate and deliver global brand standards, and it positions us to manage more flagged properties in the future.
What are your strategies for growing and maintaining your consumer bases?
Since each of our brands is distinct and caters to a variety of travelers, ranging from families and budget travelers to experiential or solo travelers, our marketing strategy is to really push the different key messages that will resonate with the brand’s target audience. For example, our Aston properties appeal to families especially, so we push messages that focus on our impressive collection of condo-hotel resorts and villas with conveniences such as kitchens, laundry rooms and spacious accommodations.
We’re also continuing to offer creative, added-value incentives to develop a more personal relationship with our guests. This includes our new loyalty program, which rewards our guests when they book with us directly. We believe vacationers want to receive instant benefits when they give us their business. That’s why we launched the loyalty program—to let our guests know they’re appreciated from the start. We don’t make them wait to rack up thousands of points before they can be recognized as the valuable customers they are.
In what ways have you met the growing demand for experiential, eco-conscious and adventure travel?
We’ve created packages and special amenities to allow our guests to experience the aloha lifestyle in many different ways, from sailing excursions, free bike rentals and scuba diving lessons to lei-making and kapa printing. Additionally, we can satisfy their need for information about local experiences even before they arrive in Hawai‘i through our 24-hour call center.
The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, which we launched in April 2016, is a great example of the next generation in Hawaiian hospitality. The hotel was designed with the millennial traveler in mind, to create a hotel experience that’s off the beaten path. We’ve helped introduce a calendar of on-site programming intended to showcase local talent—from musicians and filmmakers to designers and artists—and we’re working towards developing a program of activities off-site that leverages the personal connections of the various artistic collaborators that were brought in as part of the renovation project.