Visitor Public Safety Conference - 03/28
I have always said that Hawaii’s tourism industry relies on the fact that we are a safe place to live, play, visit, and do business. All it would take is a few highly publicized crimes to harm this reputation, which draws millions of visitors to our shores and entices world class conventions such as the APEC conference, the World Conservations Congress, and arriving in 2020 the Festival of the Pacific Arts and Culture.
Last year, our inaugural VPSC was a resounding success - it helped to formulate both short and long-term goals addressing safety and crime, as well as established actionable items for all stakeholders to consider. In fact, the proof is in the poi, as exactly one-year after our conference, many of the suggestions from the meeting were reflected in the 2019 Waikiki crime-fighting plan, rolled out by the Honolulu Police Department and the City Administration.
But with public safety-related incidences making their way back to the front pages, HLTA has decided to hold a second iteration of our Visitor Public Safety Conference, hosted in partnership with the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, the Waikiki Improvement Association, the Waikiki Business Improvement District Association, and the Hawaii Hotel Visitor Industry Security Association.
This year’s meeting will be a half-day affair, driven by leaders from all sectors of public safety. The morning will begin with the Honolulu Police Department’s leadership, sharing their insight on current crime and their numerous new initiatives. The second half of the conference will feature a panel of specialists who will focus on the seven major concerns in terms of crime reduction and safety: residential, hotels, businesses, visitors, youth, the military, and homelessness.
If you’re interested in attending, please register here.
Member Spotlight: Ben Rafter
For those of you who caught Ben Rafter’s feature in Hawaii Business Magazine, you know that Ben is working on turning OLS Hotels & Resorts into “the next great Hawaii hotel operator.”
The 2015-2016 HLTA Chairperson is CEO of OLS Hotels & Resorts, which operates 23 branded and boutique hotels nationwide, with plans to move its headquarters from LA to Honolulu soon. OLS Hotels & Resorts is more than 50% locally owned, and is operating five Hawaii hotels. But with Ben at the helm, they’re expanding their local operations, and are looking to take up the mantle as a great, locally-owned Hawaii hotel operator, following in the footsteps of the Kelley family of Outrigger and others that preceded them. Rafter, a current HTA board member, also has recruited Rob Robinson, formerly with 'Alohilani Resort of Highgate Hotels to be part of his management team. Both Robinson and Rafter are active board members of HLTA.
Although the past President of Aqua-Aston Hospitality got his start in the tech world, I think it’s clear that Ben has found his niche in the hospitality world.
To catch the full Hawaii Business feature, click here.
Concierge Association Celebrates 10th Anniversary
This past Monday evening, I had the pleasure of attending and offered remarks at the Concierge Association of Hawai‘i’s 10th Anniversary Gala at Morton's. I was invited by long-time concierge and friend Wendy Nagaishi.
The small-but-mighty group represents a very vital lifeline in the visitor industry, and that is the dedication to providing professional and excellent guest services to visitors and local residents alike. They are passionate in what they do, and take great pride in their work. The organization is committed to providing continuous career development and education to their members and additionally engages in community opportunities from the Visitor Industry Charity Walk to Aloha Week and more.
Association President Vanessa Greene, of the Halekulani, heads the organization which is comprised of representatives from lodging properties such as the Kahala Hotel & Resort, the Four Seasons Resort O’ahu at Ko Olina, Trump International Waikiki, Prince Waikiki, the DoubleTree Alana Waikiki, and Turtle Bay Resort, as well as industry affiliate.
Mahalo for hosting such a wonderful evening, and I wish you all many more years of happy, educational membership!
HTA & HLTA Announce Scholarships!
On March 6, I was invited to be a guest speaker at the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s 2019 Spring Tourism Update at the Hawaii Convention Center. I spoke to an audience of 500, which comprised of members from the tourism industry, government officials, non-profit professionals, and the general public.
My primary focus was geared toward HTA’s Community Outreach Program, which will now include a new Scholarship Program crafted by HLTA and HTA . The program is exclusive to Hawaii public high school graduates who are planning to pursue degrees in the tourism, hospitality, or culinary fields.
The program will award a total of five, four-year scholarships at $12,000 per student per year for students enrolling at the University of Hawaii TIM School, and the Hospitality programs at BYU- Hawaii and HPU. Additionally, there will be ten available two-year scholarships for students enrolling in the TIM program at the University of Hawaii, for which scholarship awards break down as follows: two Oahu County students, two Maui County students, two Kaua‘i County students, two Hawai‘i Island students, and two at-large students from any island.
Beyond having a commendable GPA, leadership skills, volunteer hours in the community, and internship experience, the candidates must also agree to pursue 'Ōlelo Hawaiian language and cultural classes. The goal is to incentivize and retain these future tourism and hospitality leaders and to establish them as pillars in the local community.
The Ho’oilina Scholarship recipient selection committee will be co-chaired by Chris Tatum, head of Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and myself. The committee members will consist of individuals from across the state in the fields of hospitality, culinary, such as the Hawaii Restaurant Association, and education, as well as union representatives and Hawaiian culture specialists.
We are excited to roll out this new scholarship initiative for our 2019 public high school graduates. Applications will be released this coming week and will be available on our website, along with our other existing scholarship opportunities, at http://www.hawaiilodging.org/scholarship-opportunities.html.
Visitor Public Safety Conference, 03/28
For the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association, Visitor and Public Safety is and has been one of our major priority issues. As a former Director of the State Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism and Mayor of the City & County of Honolulu, and currently as the President & CEO of the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association, I have always said that our tourism industry relies heavily on the fact that we are a safe place to live, play, visit, and do business.
To that end, HLTA along with industry partners held the first-ever Visitor Public Safety Conference exactly one year ago. The conference was a huge success, as it addressed rising concerns in the realm of public safety and established a list of goals and initiatives, many of which are part of the Honolulu Police Department priorities and was included in the City’s newly unveiled Waikiki crime-fighting plan (view the Honolulu Star-Advertiser article here).
In response to a successful conference in 2018, we are partnering with the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, the Waikiki Improvement Association, and the Waikiki Business Improvement District Association to host the second annual Visitor Public Safety conference, once again bringing to the table public safety stakeholders: the Honolulu Police Department, the Hawai‘i Hotel Visitor Industry Security Association, Visitor Aloha Society of Hawai‘i, Retail Merchants of Hawai‘i, Adult Friends for Youth, Storefront School, and the Military. Today we held a planning committee meeting to gear up for our March 28th morning conference. This year’s meeting, albeit on a more abbreviated timeline, will cover updates and initiatives in local law enforcement, and will address the following six key areas that are related or impacted by crime: community , business, visitors, military, youth, and homelessness. The conference will conclude with ways that we as an industry can follow-up and follow through with current and future legislation, programs, and initiatives.
Stay tuned as we release more details and registration information for our Visitor Public Safety Part II.
Hospitality Industry Pau Hana (HIP) on Thursday, 03/21
Strike Out Domestic Violence, 04/12
Last year, Oahu took a page from the HLTA Kauai Chapter and unveiled a new initiative: a bowling tournament to help raise funds for the Visitor Industry Charity Walk. 2018’s Strike Out Homelessness successfully raised $10,000 for groups supporting the homelessness community, and we hope to continue to do so. Our partners at Salem Media helped us organize last year’s event which was filled with competitive fun, and ono grinds from The Alley! We look forward to hana hou-ing this evening of fellowship and fundraising for a worthy cause.
The idea behind this perennial event will be to rotate focus and fundraise to support a new area of priority each year. For 2019, we will concentrate our efforts to “Strike Out Domestic Violence.”
Join us at Aiea Bowl on Friday, April 12th as we bowl for this important cause! If you are interested in participating either as a team (of 6 bowlers) or as a prize donor, please direct your requests to Senior Director of Operations, Edgar Palafox of my staff. We hope to see you there!
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