HLTA officially culminated the 39th annual Charity Walk with the Oahu Grant Distribution Ceremony last Friday, September 22. Representatives from 128 charities gathered at the Ala Moana Hotel’s Hibiscus Room to receive their share of the funds that were distributed that morning. In addition to the ono breakfast, Lynette Eastman, General Manager of The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club and Aqua Waikiki Pearl, and her husband Bullah Eastman, Senior Director of Safety & Security at Aqua-Aston Hospitality, did a wonderful job of emceeing the event.
Several first-time participants made their mark as top fundraisers this year, including Youth for Christ USA and Hui O Momilani PTSO. Second year participant Honolulu Community Action Program (HCAP) also made the ranks as one of the top fundraisers by a non-profit organization. As we stated at last year’s Charity Walk, we emphasized to the Oahu non-profit organizations that they would first be awarded the monies that they fundraised as a group, and could earn extra funds through their grant application, scope of work, and participation with the event through walkers and volunteers as determined by a grants committee consisting of members from the hospitality industry.
As we have touted before, the 39th annual Charity Walk was another record-breaking year, raising $2.27 million for 363 charities across the state. Since its inception, the Charity Walk has raised over $32 million. This year we introduced an online crowdfunding platform, and look forward to topping this year’s record yet again next year as we bring in the 40th annual Charity Walk.
View photos from the Oahu Charity Walk Grant Distribution Ceremony on the HLTA blog here.
General Membership Meeting:
Mahalo to all of you who have registered for the 190th General Membership Meeting and reserved your rooms at Turtle Bay Resort. If you have not made your room reservations, Turtle Bay Resort has officially SOLD OUT of rooms. We recommend you book at the Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore in Laie.
There is still time to register for the GMM before the price increases to the late registration fee of $375. Events included in the GMM comprise of a Turtle Bay Resort tour on Thursday leading into a light welcome reception, a mini trade show on Friday showcasing our sponsors, a Friday evening get-together featuring an agricultural theme highlighting local food trucks, the all-important business session where we will be inducting our 2017-2018 officers and board of directors along with having an expert panel discussion on tourism sustainability, and a dinner on Saturday evening taking you back on a journey over the past 7 decades as we celebrate HLTA's 70th anniversary. Add-on events include the Friday Lunch & Learn that will spotlight a government panel on how the hospitality industry can develop a stronger voice and presence in government and the community, a special tour of the Polynesian Cultural Center on Saturday, and a golf scramble at Turtle Bay Resort's Fazio Course. Register for the GMM here.
I convened a meeting with several HLTA board members recently in an attempt to solidify our position on issues that we anticipate would be problematic for our industry and will command significant attention at the upcoming legislative session. Topics included the Transient Vacation Rentals, Airport Commission, Transient Accommodation Taxes, and the 2018 elections. Stay tuned for more details.
The Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association (HLTA), through its non-profit arm the Hawai‘i Hotel Industry Foundation (HHIF), distributed funds to 128 charities on O‘ahu at its annual post-Visitor Industry Charity Walk presentation ceremony at the Ala Moana Hotel’s Hibiscus Room. The funds were raised in May of this year through the 39th annual Charity Walk, in which 6,500 walkers enjoyed food, refreshments, and entertainment along a 5.25-mile route through Waikiki.
Charity Walk funds are distributed based on the deliberations and vetting of a committee consisting of members from the hospitality industry. Charities that fundraised monies were first awarded that money back and received extra funding through their grant application. Remaining funds were awarded based on the organization’s scope of work and by their level of participation with the event through walkers and volunteers.
“The Charity Walk allocation ceremony really is the culmination of all the hard work and generosity put forth by the visitor industry. The good these charities do for our communities is why we continue this tradition of giving, and it’s so great to see that many of them are getting more involved with our Charity Walk year after year,” said Mufi Hannemann, HLTA President & CEO.
Among the grant recipients were long-time beneficiaries such as Make-a-Wish Foundation, the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii, VASH and Special Olympics Hawaii. However, it was the year of the newcomers as the top fundraisers of the walk, from the charity organizations group, were first-time participants Youth for Christ USA, Hui O Momilani PTSO, and second year participant Honolulu Community Action Program (HCAP).
Youth for Christ USA has run their Campus Life Clubs program for 70 years helping troubled youth in public high schools across the island. They will be expanding their outreach in the community by establishing clubs in 5 new high schools and building on the 16 schools they are currently in. The HCAP youth services program aims at breaking the cycle of poverty by motivating Hawaii’s underprivileged youth through innovative educational and leadership initiatives. The Hui O Momilani PTSO put their best foot forward this year to help raise funds for the Drama Program at Momilani Elementary School. The Drama program encourages student growth in public speaking and performance through themes relating to community engagement and character development.
The 39th annual Charity Walk raised $2.27 million for 363 charities statewide. This year’s total once again topped last year’s records for both the number of charities helped and monies raised. Since its inception, the Charity Walk has raised over $32 million. All of the money raised on each island stays on that island to benefit local charitable groups.
Mahalo for attending HYPE's United Laundry Services Tour!
HYPE took to Sand Island on Wednesday, September 13 as we went on a tour of United Laundry Services (ULS). The team at ULS guided the HYPE attendees through each of the processes involved in their everyday operations. From laundry and linen intake, to “treasure hunting” for lost items, to the washing, drying, ironing and folding of the linen and finally to the shipment and cost formulas per load, the team at ULS took us on a journey through the world of laundry. To finish the evening off the team at United Laundry Services invited the team for a pau hana experience at Harbor Restaurant at Pier 38 where the HYPE group had a chance to mix and mingle with one another.
HYPE would like to send a special Mahalo to Ms. Vicky Cayetano, President & CEO of United Laundry Services, and her team for hosting us at their company and for sponsoring the transportation and pau hana! We thank all the attendees that joined us for yesterday’s tour and we hope to see you at the next one!
Scholarship Presentation and Kauai Charity Walk Allocation
Last Thursday, HLTA attended the Kauai Chapter’s Charity Walk Grant Presentation Ceremony at the Kauai Marriott Resort, where $277,000 was distributed among 60 non-profit organizations. During the program, I took the opportunity to present the R.W. “Bob” Holden scholarship of $1,000 to Faith Rapozo, a junior at Kauai Community College majoring in Hospitality & Tourism. Faith has a passion for customer service and aspires to be a hotel manager or a tourism business owner. She also has an incredible story in which she has had to overcome many hardships to get to where she is today. I certainly hope she continues her path and fulfills her goal of one day becoming one of Kauai's leading hotel executives.
The R.W. Bob Holden Scholarship is a tribute to the continuing leadership in the hotel industry and dedication to education of those entering the hospitality profession. “Bob” Holden was the founder of the Visitor Industry Education Council of Hawaii in 1973, a group formed to take the story of Hawaii’s visitor industry and its importance to the citizens and general public of Hawaii. He was a member of the Advisory Council of the University of Hawaii TIM School, former director of the Waikiki Improvement Association and he is considered the “Father” of the Hawai’i Lodging & Tourism Association’s Visitor Industry Charity Walk.
New Member Incentive Drawing
In addition to the scholarship and Charity Walk grant presentations that took place that morning, we held a drawing for a new member incentive we ran after the Hospitality, Lodging, and Foodservice Expo this July. All new members who joined within a certain time frame were entered in a drawing for roundtrip tickets to any island on Hawaiian Airlines and a two-night stay at The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas, compliments of Ken Kanter from Douglas Trade Shows and Denise Wardlow, GM of the Westin Princeville. I recognized Denise that morning for her generous gift, and her Director of Operations Marc Bennor joined me on stage to pull the lucky member’s name. Ironically, out of all the allied members who joined during that time frame were up for the prize, the only new active member who joined during that time frame, Embassy Suites by Hilton Kapolei, was the lucky winner. Congratulations to Reid Yoshida, the property’s GM.
Almost one year ago we launched the first ever HLTA Generational Mentoring program in partnership with Art Sarkissian, founder of Here and Now Consulting. The program paired 12 hotel and resort general managers with students from our local universities’ tourism industry management programs. The result of the 7 month program develops a mutually beneficial relationship between the executives of today’s hospitality industry and the up and coming leaders of tomorrow, an experience that both parties gain valuable insights from.
As we near the end of 2017 we will be launching our second iteration of the Generational Mentoring program geared at partnering 15 university students with 15 general managers and visitor industry executives. This year we have confirmed the participation of 6 new executives to the GM program: Scott Ingwers, Area VP & Managing Director of the Trump International Hotel Waikiki; Teri Orton, General Manager of the Hawai‘i Convention Center; Simeon Miranda, General Manager of the Embassy Suites Hotel - Waikiki Beach Walk; Gerald Glennon, General Manager of the Kahala Hotel & Resort; Jim Braman, General Manager of the Cliffs at Princeville; and Danna Holck, General Manager at Turtle Bay Resort. We are very excited to once again partner with Art Sarkissian to launch our second year of this very worthwhile initiative that helps pave the way for the next generation of industry professionals.
HLTA presents $35k to two Hawaii Island Homeless Agencies:
Last Thursday, the HLTA office and a handful of board members attended the Hawaii Island Chapter’s Charity Walk Grant Allocation Ceremony at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa after attending a board meeting on the island. During the reception, HLTA presented a total of $35,000 to two Hawaii Island non-profit agencies focused on servicing homelessness, in partnership with the Institute for Human Services (IHS) and the County of Hawaii.
Through funds from the Hawaii For Hawaii concert, IHS matched $10,000 with HLTA, and together we presented a total $20,000 to HOPE Services Hawaii Inc. to help fund their emergency shelters. HLTA also presented $15,000 to support the Hawai'i Rise Foundation for a certified kitchen at Na Kahua Hale O Ulu Wini, also known as Ulu Wini, a low-income Housing Project built by the County of Hawaii in 2011 in Kona. Joining me to make the presentations at Waikoloa were HLTA Chair Scott Ingwers, HLTA Hawaii Island Chapter Chair Steve Yannarell, and from the County government, Managing Director Wil Okabe, Council Chair Val Pointdexter, and County Prosecutor Mitch Roth.
If you were at last year’s General Membership Meeting, you may remember when HLTA made a $25,000 contribution to a non-profit group called Kauai Economic Opportunity in consultation with Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho at the GMM welcome reception. The year before that, HLTA in collaboration with Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and the Institute for Human Services (IHS) donated $25,000 to a group called the Maui Family Life Center. This year we had similar discussions with Hawaii Island Mayor Harry Kim’s office and the Institute for Human Services, who both helped us identify these two well-deserved agencies on Hawaii Island.
These Neighbor Island Homelessness initiatives are all part of HLTA's conscious efforts to reflect the fact that we are a statewide organization and given the magnitude of the homeless problem, HLTA wants to help all our Island chapters whenever we can.
Charity Walk Allocations:
Congratulations to the Hawaii Island Chapter for distributing nearly $276,000 among 60 non-profit organizations at their allocation ceremony last Thursday, and to the Maui Chapter for distributing over $1,129,000 to 115 charities on Maui, Lanai, and Molokai on August 10. This week, Kauai will hold their allocation ceremony at the Kauai Marriott on September 7, and Oahu’s reception will take place on September 22.
Special Session Recap:
As many of you know the legislative special session came to a close last week Friday as the Hawai‘i State House of Representatives convened their third reading on measure SB4; the bill to decide the funding mechanism for the Honolulu rail system. This came on the heels of a much closer vote than anticipated before the joint committees of Finance and Transportation (8-6 vote in Finance and a 4-2 vote in Transportation). As you may recall before the same Bill went to the Senate floor for a final vote of 16-9, it barely made it out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee by a 6-5 vote. The final vote in the House was 31 to 15 with 5 members excused from the day’s proceedings. Bill SB4 was returned to the Senate un-amended and was sent to the Governor directly where he signed it into law yesterday.
SB4 snapshot: In order to fund the Honolulu rail project SB4 extends the current Honolulu GET Tax Use Surcharge for three additional years to 2030 and increases the transient accommodations tax by 1%, taking the new TAT rate to 10.25%, for years beginning January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2030. The additional 1% statewide TAT increase will be earmarked specifically to the mass transit special fund which will be administered by the department of budget and finance. Provisions also included in the measure involve an audit of HART, the addition of two non-voting members to the HART Board appointed by the Senate President and Speaker of the House, and making permanent the $103 million allocated to the counties from the collection of the TAT.
At the end of the day the votes may not have aligned the way we wanted as we worked tirelessly to keep the transient accommodations tax out of the equation. However, this is the first time ever that the visitor industry has been able to rally statewide as a single voice the way we did these past couple of months. Many legislators, government leaders, and business and labor organizations took note and have commented on the visitor industry’s engagement and visibility this legislative special session. We have also added some new partners who agree with our views of the danger of tapping into the TAT as a funding source for all things. I would like to send a special mahalo to all those that have contributed to the 1,850 industry signatures we have collected, to the individuals who testified at the public hearings, to the organizations who wrote letters and testimonies to the legislators, and to those who not only got involved but also encouraged their team to do so as well. We sent a reminder to our government leaders that we are the number one economic driver in the state and we are backed by large numbers.
Therefore, I would like to use this experience as a foundation to further enhance our advocacy efforts as an association and as an industry. This was just one major debate at the big square building directly impacting our industry. Government and politics are in perpetual motion and so we must stay vigilant as we are constantly facing measures that can either harm or benefit us. Over the next several months we will be working diligently at engaging the industry through our government affairs process and strengthening our voice across the state. The next legislative session begins on January 17, 2018 followed by elections in the fall where the plan is for our association and the hospitality industry to be actively engaged. It will be a busy year and I look forward to working with you to build upon the momentum that we have started. Stay tuned for more details of our government affairs agenda in the weeks ahead.
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