HLTA contributes $52,000 to high school seniors at the 2018 Citizen Scholar Awards
It was an exciting day for forty-two high school seniors from across the state, as we recognized them for their accolades, achievements, and acts of community service at our annual Citizen-Scholar Awards. Over 200 students, family members, school officials, and HLTA members attended the awards program, held at the newly renovated ‘Alohilani Resort on Tuesday April 24th in the Bluefin banquet room. This year marked the 14th year that the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, and the Department of Education have partnered on this event awarding one student from each of Hawai’i’s state public high schools with a $1,000 scholarship. Students were selected by dint of their scholastic achievement, as well as their impressive contributions to their school and community.
The awards luncheon opened with welcoming remarks from Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Chief Revenue Officer, Dave Kennedy, Superintendent of Education, Dr. Christina Kishimoto, and yours truly. During the luncheon, the students had the opportunity to meet with and thank their sponsors for the generous support provided.
Last year, HLTA introduced four additional $2,500 scholarships to be awarded to the top Citizen-Scholar awardee from each county. I would like to take a moment to recognize the students selected for this year’s special honor:
Hawai’i Island: Crismel Juan of Kea‘au High School
Crismel is proudest of her work this year with the statewide Hawai‘i Public Health Institute Youth Council, which involved a student-led push at the Legislature to curb smoking. She is an officer with the National Honor Society and active with the student government senate, Health Occupations Students of America, and AVID and Interact clubs. Crismel plans to attend the University of Rochester to study Biology.
Kaua‘i: Braden K.H. Kobayashi of Waimea High School
Braden, is the commander of the school’s 182-member Junior ROTC battalion. He has been in the program for four years and led the group in repainting the Kaua‘i Veterans Cemetery pavilion and restoring the Hui ‘o Laka Civilian Conservation Corps camp at Koke‘e. Braden is a member of the golf and air riflery teams and is active in the National Honor Society and Interact Club, where he joins other members in organizing assemblies, volunteering for school social events, and assisting the athletics program. He plans to attend Creighton University and major in Pre-med.
Maui: Emily N. Mitra of Maui High School
As president of the National Honor Society, Emily leads her classmates in tutoring children after school through Big Brothers Big Sisters. The group also raised money to buy supplies for a nearby elementary school that was badly damaged by a fire. She is active in student government, is an officer with the Maui County 4-H, and captains the Sabers golf team. Emily will be attending California Baptist University this fall to major in Architecture.
O‘ahu: Rovi C. Porter of Kalani High School
A science and technology whiz, Rovi founded Girls in Technology, Engineering, and Computing, a class to empower girls in the coding field and is treasurer and project manager for the Kalani Robotics Academy. She is a violinist in the orchestra, captain of the varsity soccer team, and a member of the cross-country team. She volunteers through the Leo Club, as a cafeteria monitor, at the Aina Haina State Library, and the Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders Fellows Program. Rovi will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and major in Bioengineering.
Congratulations to our 2018 Citizen-Scholars! A few special mahalos: to all the sponsors for their continued support of our future leaders, to our co-emcees, Diane Ako of KITV News and journalist Yunji de Nies; and of course, to our hosts Cheryl Williams, regional vice president of sales and marketing for High Gate Hotels, and Matt Grauso, General Manager of the Alohilani Resort, and their exceptional banquet staff who helped contribute to the success of our awards ceremony.
University of Hawai’i at Manoa Travel Industry Management “Celebrate a Legacy in Tourism” dinner
Last night, the HLTA staff and I attended the UH Manoa TIM dinner, “Celebrate a Legacy in Tourism” at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. This was the 17th year that the TIM School has hosted their signature gala to raise funds for TIM School scholarships. We were happy to see many of our HLTA members in attendance contributing to such an important cause and helping recognize the TIM Legacy Award Recipient and HLTA Board Member, Jerry Gibson, Area Vice President of Hilton Hawai‘i, TIM School Hall of Honor inductee, Glenn Perry, Realtor Associate, Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties, and the TIM Distinguished Service award which was awarded to the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association.
I invited HLTA Chairperson, Gregg Nelson, Chairperson-Elect, Glenn Vergara, and Vice-President, Dean Nakasone to join me on stage to receive the award, The tribute to HLTA is a validation of the work that we do in the community, especially with the University of Hawai‘i TIM School. They are a strong collaborative partner with us in developing such initiatives as the Generational Mentoring Program. I also paid tribute to all the previous leaders of this august organization for the past 70 years. This is an award that we can all feel a part of. Congratulations to all our members, both past and present… “we’re all in this together.”
Deadline Approaching for Member-Exclusive Scholarships
As another busy week wraps up, I would like to take this moment to remind our membership that applications for the HLTA Member-Exclusive Scholarships are due on Monday, April 30th. Any dependent of an employee, entering an accredited post-secondary institution, is eligible and welcome to apply. We will grant two scholarships of $2,500: one for an Allied Member, and one for a Lodging Member. Again, applications are due on Monday, April 30th. For further questions, please click here or contact Jessica Caires of my staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With Emergency Management as a key priority of the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association, I have always said it isn’t a matter of “if”, but a matter of “when”. We saw this reflected this past weekend when Kaua‘i was hit with record-breaking rains causing extensive flood damage to the northern part of the island.
Our stakeholders and partners on the Garden Isle have been heavily involved with the ongoing rescue and recovery efforts helping service the hundreds who are currently located in regions inaccessible by ground transportation. The response from the community has been truly inspiring, and HLTA is proud to say that members of our Kauai Chapter have been front and center in representing the visitor industry.
Our hotel partners have contributed thousands of dollars to non-profit organizations, given over a hundred cases of water to impacted areas, and are facilitating canned food drives to donate to local shelters, but that’s just the beginning. We’ve also logged the following donations: bags, boxes, cases, and pallets worth of bed sheets, bath towels, cleaning supplies, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, trash bags, and laundry detergent.
In addition to these contributions, our members have put boots on the ground in the packaging of these donated goods at Hanalei Airport, to be airlifted into the areas hit hardest by the storm. A prime example are the department teams from The Cliffs at Princeville who have dedicated their time and energy to help with such efforts. With more rain in the forecast and grounds still slick, I would like to take this moment to remind everyone that though there are donations pouring in now, there is still a lot of work to be done.
We'll continue to monitor the situation very closely and look to identify other ways that we can help our loved ones and friends on Kauai get back on their feet again. In the meantime, I would like to again commend our HLTA Kauai Chapter Board, who has led by example during this time of crisis and need. Not only have they supported their associates who have been impacted, but they have gone above and beyond the call of duty to lend a helping hand in their fellow communities… after all, “we’re all in this together.”
Edwin K. Hastings Scholarship Awarded to UH Manoa TIM Student
This past Wednesday, the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa’s Tourism Industry Management (TIM) School held its annual networking event, Na Kukui Netlinks, at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa. The ballroom brimmed with student excitement as they gathered, eager to network with leaders from the hospitality industry.
As you know, the UH TIM program’s curriculum prepares students to not only work but excel in various jobs within the industry and the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association was honored to present our Edwin K. Hastings Scholarship to a well-deserving TIM student, Jared Matsuki. Jared is a proud graduate of Roosevelt High School and is currently a junior in the TIM program. He’s employed with Prince Waikiki Resort and presently serves as president of Eta Sigma Delta, a prestigious international hospitality honor society that recognizes the scholastic achievements of students who are pursuing a degree in the field. Jared is also one of the fifteen participants in our Generational Mentoring Program and is paired with HLTA Board Member Craig Anderson of the Mauna Kea Resort.
Congratulations Jared, and best wishes on your continued success!
Honolulu City Council Bill 6 (2018)
Also on Wednesday, the Honolulu City Council’s Committee on Budget heard Bill 6 (2018) which aims to amend Section 29-16.6, revised Ordinances of Honolulu, to exclude the public nuisance exception of having objects such as rolling kiosks on the sidewalks in the Waikiki Special District. The bill has grown legs and is rapidly progressing through the City Council with strong backing from the visitor industry. Last month, the bill passed second reading in front of the full council with unanimous support and was subsequently passed this week through the Committee on Budget with all present members voting aye. The measure is now slated to go before the full council for final reading on Wednesday, April 25, 2018. We send our mahalo to all our members and industry partners who have been actively engaged in the legislative process and are advocating for this important issue.
In response to action items developed from our Visitor Public Safety Conference, WIA's executive director Rick Egged and Councilmember Trevor Ozawa have joined me in facilitating round table meetings with the Honolulu Police Department and the independent “cabaret licensed” operators in Waikiki. While we are in early stages, our discussions have been promising. Stakeholders attending our meetings include cabaret establishments, their property owners, HPD, WBIDA, WIA, and the military. We are working towards reaching amicable solutions in keeping Waikiki safe for visitors and residents alike.
HLTA meets with Tourism Chairs: Explanation of HB 2010
On Thursday the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association’s Board of Directors had the opportunity to hear from Senate Economic Development, Tourism, and Technology Chair, Glenn Wakai, and House Tourism Chair, Richard Onishi, as they updated us on key tourism related measures at the legislature. The conversation was lively and engaging as they shared their respective chambers position on our major priority issues such as transient vacation rentals, homelessness, the establishment of an airports corporation, and additional taxes on the hospitality industry.
During the conversation one of the major bills that was brought up and discussed was House Bill 2010 which amongst other things would primarily redistribute the transient accommodations tax revenue from the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority to different agencies that deal directly with similar issues that HTA grapples with. During his presentation, Senator Wakai took the time to really underscore the point that contrary to what some have been saying, this measure will not be taking away any of HTA’s allotted marketing funds that would cripple marketing campaigns of HVCB and its neighbor island chapters. He stated that the Senate’s intention is to transfer funds and the many mandates that HTA has accumulated over the years to the departments and agencies that have the capabilities of working on these tourism-related issues, such as the Department of Land and Natural Resource, the Department of Education, and the counties, to name a few. This will allow HTA the ability to put a laser-like focus on marketing and conducting valuable research and reports. For a better understanding of the reallocation of these funds and the intent of this measure, please see the Senate’s April 4th News Release which can be viewed HERE. The House position on the other hand, according to Onishi, is that they believe the status quo should remain with the amount of money that is currently given to HTA. Given the disagreement in both chambers on this sensitive issue, I believe it’s safe to say that there will be some restoration of funds to HTA with marketing a major objective.
We convey our mahalo to both Tourism Chairs for taking the time to meet with our Board of Directors and we applaud them for their yeoman work in assisting us at the State Capitol.
Hospitality Industry Pau Hana, honoring ABC Stores
A big mahalo to everyone who joined us at our HIP event at BASALT @ Duke’s Lane Market Wednesday evening. My staff and I were very happy to see so many of you come out to network with one another at the featured ABC Stores venue. That evening we presented ABC Stores President and CEO Paul Kosasa and his team with the Kahiau Award, in acknowledgement of their 54 years of dedication and commitment to the hospitality industry. In that time, it has become one of Hawaii’s most beloved convenience stores for visitors and residents. Additionally, Paul is one of the most active executives in Waikiki, in volunteering his time and efforts to greatly assist organizations such as HLTA, WIA, and WBIDA.
ABC Stores pride themselves for being The Stores with Aloha and always take care of their customers and 1700+ employees. Today, there are 76 stores throughout the Pacific from Hawaii to Guam, Saipan and Las Vegas, including new dining venues such as Island Gourmet Markets, Island Country Markets, Honolua Store and Dukes Lane Market & Eatery. I’d like to give a special thank you to Paul and his team at BASALT for hosting such a wonderful evening. We hope to see you all at our next HIP event!
Generational Mentoring Mixer
At the beginning of the year, we launched the 2nd iteration of our Generational Mentoring program where fifteen general managers were paired with fifteen students from the tourism and hospitality schools of the following universities: University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, University of Hawai‘i West Oahu, Hawai‘i Pacific University, and Brigham Young University Hawai‘i. This past Tuesday, Art Sarkissian of Here and Now Consulting joined me in bringing together the mentors, mentees, and professors involved with this year’s program for a networking mixer at the HLTA office. The hour was filled with food and fellowship as the students got the opportunity to converse with their peers and most importantly, meet the select group of general managers partaking in the program. We look forward to seeing the relationships between mentor and mentee flourish as we complete the second half of the program. The Generational Mentoring graduation will take place on June 6th, the location is TBD.
Hospitality’s Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs: Negotiate LIKE A BOSS
Thursday night, our HYPE Committee facilitated Negotiate LIKE A BOSS, a panel to help our burgeoning young professional group advocate for themselves to the best of their ability. Trevor Bracher did a great job of moderating the panel, which featured the talented Corey Campbell (Akamai Training), Kazu Hayashida (Hilton Worldwide), and Michael Paulin (Paulin Group). These four speakers lent their expertise and professional opinion on a wide range of topics, from salary negotiation to preparation strategies. The sold out event, held at RAVISH at THE MODERN HONOLULU, was the third in the HYPE Committee’s LIKE A BOSS education series. I want to acknowledge all the hard work of our HYPE Committee, especially Allied Chair Marissa Ross and Lodging Chair Keri Brown. We are all looking forward to celebrating the 2nd anniversary of HYPE with them in June.
HLTA & HHVISA Emergency Management Workshop
On Thursday morning, HLTA partnered with the Hawaii Hotel Visitor Industry Security Association in hosting a workshop addressing emergency management preparedness. This timely discussion covered pre- and post-preparedness plans that both the visitor industry and general public should be aware of in the case of a natural or man-made disaster. More than 100 members from HHVISA and HLTA from all over the state and officers from HPD filled the room yesterday at the Ohana Waikiki East Hotel to partake in the meeting.
Before turning it to Jerry Dolak, Director of Security & Safety for Outrigger Hotels & Resorts and President of HHVISA to begin his presentation, I summarized the findings of a survey that we sent to our members in the aftermath of the false missile alert. The energetic Dolak focused primarily on how properties can implement a business plan for a nuclear missile attack. He emphasized the point that a plan is only as good as those who read it and implement it. Therefore, we must ensure that our properties are equipped with a proper plan and that our industry employees know it well in advance.
A few of his key takeaways include having a 14-day survival kit on hand at all times, implementing “Go Bags” which are duffels equipped with necessary supplements and tools, properly alerting guests and workers with a PA broadcast, and he advised that you should never pull a fire alarm as it will prompt panicked individuals to exit the shelter. Dolak also focused a substantial portion of his presentation on the importance of establishing a “safe haven” for each property. These designated shelters are ideally a basement or rooms surrounded by thick concrete or brick walls, and they should not be close to areas exposed to nuclear fallout such as rooftop or ground level floors. Those that are exposed to nuclear fallout need to first dispose of their clothes and wash off before entering any safe zones to prevent contamination; and those who are sheltering should wait at least 24 hours before leaving their quarantined area as radioactive fallout will need time to deteriorate.
Jerry closed his segment by making his presentation and preparedness plan available to any interested parties. As I often say, “we’re all in this together”; this adage holds exceptionally true in the realm of public safety.
The second half of the workshop featured the City & County of Honolulu’s Department of Emergency Management (DEM) Director Mel Kaku and his team as they addressed the pre-and post-preparedness measures that the general public should be aware of in the case of natural and man-made disasters. When we created DEM to replace the old Oahu Civil Defense Agency during my tenure as mayor, I had shifted Mel as the Director of Transportation Services to head this bold new initiative. He has since done a commendable job of leading the 14 person office that is at the forefront of ensuring safety and disaster recovery for Oahu.
Crystal van Beelen, Disaster Preparedness Officer, covered several key steps that a public citizen should be aware of in surviving and recuperating from a disaster. These steps include having a family emergency plan established, knowing your proper evacuation procedures and shelter locations, preparing your back up power sources, customizing your own emergency kits, and knowing which documents you need to have on person. Van Beelen continued by addressing the key importance of communication and staying informed pointing to government utilization of mobile alerts, outdoor warning sirens, emergency alert systems through tv and radio mediums, and stations that offer information in different languages.
We are at risk always and as I have stated on numerous accounts it isn’t a matter of “if” but a matter of “when” the next natural disaster will occur. It is therefore paramount that we are prepared at all times and having a plan in place will help to ensure our public’s safety and survival.
We thank all those who attended yesterday’s workshop as it is of vital importance that we continue the conversation on public safety and this new phenomenon of nuclear missile threats. In any disaster case it is imperative that we follow-up and follow-through, bringing to light what we all need to do better and ultimately building upon them. My plan is to now take this workshop on the road, and through our partnership with HHVISA and our neighbor island chapters craft a plan for all stakeholders to use as a reference. Our desire is for every hotel property to have an updated emergency management plan in place.
HLTA Member-Exclusive Scholarships:
For the second straight year, HLTA is proud to be giving two member-exclusive scholarships of $2,500 each. One will be allocated to the dependent of a lodging member employee, and the other one to the dependent of an allied member employee. Scholarship applications are now open and are due April 30th at 11:59pm. Interested parties can find more information here. We urge you to take full advantage of this special scholarship opportunity.
Get HIP with HLTA:
Hospitality Industry Pau Hana is always such a fun event, and we look forward to seeing everyone on Wednesday, April 4th at a new venue BASALT at Dukes Lane Market & Eatery. If you’re interested in attending, please register here.
Hospitality's Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs (HYPE):
Continuing their “Like a Boss” string of events, our Hospitality Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs committee is hosting a “Negotiate Like a Boss” event on April 5th. The educational workshop will feature panelists and a moderator from the industry who are considered some of the best in the business. Join HLTA’s HYPE group for pupus and drinks at RAVISH at THE MODERN HONOLULU as they navigate the art of negotiation. Seats are available for purchase here.
Last but not least,
Have a Happy Easter!
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