ClimbHI's 2019 LEI Event
Monday morning, I joined Governor David Ige, First Lady Dawn Ige, and HTA President Chris Tatum in addressing hundreds of high school students interested in pursuing futures in hospitality at ClimbHI’s 8th annual LEI event. LEI, which stands for “Lead, Expose, and Inspire,” is an HTA-sponsored workforce development project, led by Julie Morikawa, President & CEO of ClimbHI, and is intended to encourage local youth to work towards careers in the visitor industry.
During my speech, I presented two new initiatives for the students to take advantage of: the first, that HLTA will be inviting a group of (15) students to attend our brand-new Hawai’i Hotel and Restaurant Show on May 29th and 30th at the Hawai’i Convention Center! The second was to remind these future industry leaders that HLTA, in partnership with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, is still taking applications for our new Ho’oilina Scholarship. This new initiative provides several four-year scholarships to students who are pursuing a Travel Industry or Hospitality degree, at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hawaii Pacific University, or Brigham Young University-Hawaii.
My staff followed up by handing out information on this new endeavor, as well as HLTA’s many other scholarship opportunities, at the LEI Career Fair later that day. For those who are interested, the Ho’oilina Scholarship applications are due on April 29th: for further information, please visit our website at http://www.hawaiilodging.org/scholarships.html.
Hawaiian Music Walk of Fame Dedication
It was also my pleasure this past week to emcee the Hawaiian Music Walk of Fame Dedication & Blessing at 2500 Kalakaua Avenue, as a favor to Margaret Bukatz, President of the Hawaiian Music Walk of Fame.
The Hawaiian Music walk of Fame honors Don Ho, Alfred Apaka, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, Gabby Pahinui, Chick Daniels, Hilo Hattie and Alice Namakelua.
Margaret has coordinated and by in large funded this project over the last several years. Her idea began when the palm trees that had adorned the sidewalk became diseased- she then facilitated the placement of seven bronze plaques cast in the likeness of the Hawaiian Music Legends into the new sidewalks at the corner of Kalakaua Ave and Kealohilani Ave.
This Dedication and Blessing featured tributes to the legends from family members or their friends. One of the highlights was the Aiea State Representative Sam Kong, who grew up and went to school with Bruddah Iz in Palolo. Nearly 200 people were in attendance, including friends and family of the honorees, as well as members of the press.
The ceremony featured a blessing from Pastor Shon Kihewa of New Hope Oahu, and hula performances by Maile-Anne Daniels, granddaughter of Chick Daniels; soloist Dora Kawahinepo’aimoku Yamamura; Bianca Kulia Kaleinani Foster, granddaughter of Don Ho, and the halau Ka Hale I o Kahala Halau Hula, led by Kumu Hula Leimomi I-Maldonado. The reception that followed was generously hosted by ABC Stores.
Though you'd never suspect at first glance that what looks like a very large Cheeseburger in Paradise is also home to the Hawaiian Music Walk of Fame. And if you take a second look, you’ll see not only the faces of these fabled performers in the stone, but you can also find QR codes and the images of these famous musicians along the external wall of Cheeseburger in Paradise.
I hope that the next time you find yourself on Kalakaua, you’ll stop by and take a moment to honor and learn more about these exceptional musicians who shared the spirit of aloha with the world. Mahalo Margaret!
Register Now for Hawaii's 1K Slippah Walk!
It was recently brought to my attention by Joe McNamara (former General Manager of KITV4 News) and the Wounded Warrior Ohana that the 2018 Guinness World Record for most walkers in thong flip-flops belongs to a small run club in Cary, North Carolina.
The nOg Run Club’s record was subsequently broken in September by the UMOM New Day Centers in Tempe, Arizona. Their participation, which has recently been reflected in the Guinness Book of World records, is 1,587 walkers.
Now my question is this: how can we possibly let that stand, when Hawaii is home to the rubbah slippah? Waikiki is a slippah town: and at any given moment, we have thousands of flips flops on our sidewalks and streets worn by residents and visitors alike.
So we thought that this year, as a warm-up to our traditional Charity Walk, we would organize Hawaii’s first-ever 1K Slippah Walk around Ala Moana Beach’s Magic Island! For just five (5) additional dollars, we encourage our Charity Walk participants to come out and support the Wounded Warrior Ohana as we try to break the Guinness World Record!
I hope that you’ll come out and join us in your slippahs for this special event. We then ask that you donate your pair to our slippah drive, as you change into sneakers for our Charity Walk, and make a day of walking for a great cause! I’m already looking forward to May 18th – see you at Magic Island!
To register online, please click here. To register via paper form, please click here.
Homelessness Matching Funds Distributed Statewide
Top left: Kaua'i allocations. Top right: Maui allocations. Bottom left: Oahu allocations. Bottom right: Hawai'i Island allocations.
This week, HTA President & CEO Chris Tatum joined me in presenting over $360,000 to 44 nonprofit organizations across the state.
We were accompanied by special guests at each event: On Kaua'i, Chapter Chair Paul Toner was joined by Mayor Derek Kawakami, HTA board member Fred Atkins, and members of his board; on Maui, Chapter Chair Fred Findlen was joined by HLTA Chair Emeritus Gregg Nelson, venue host Maui Beach Hotel General Manager Greg Peros, and MHLA Executive Director Lisa Paulson; and on Hawai'i Island Chapter Chair Craig Anderson hosted us at the Mauna Kea Resort. At the Oahu allocations, we were joined by Lieutenant Governor Josh Green, House Tourism Chair Representative Richard Onishi, Senate Tourism Chair Senator Glenn Wakai, HLTA Executive board members, and HLTA Chairperson Glenn Vergara.
These beneficiary organizations have been carefully vetted; not just at the county level via the HLTA Chapters, but were also subject to final approval by the State. These grants are the result of a productive public-private partnership between the State, HTA, and HLTA.
Though it has been a long process, I could not be more pleased to announce that we have indeed begun disbursement of the Act 86 (2018) $1 million dollars. These monies are particularly earmarked for homelessness efforts in tourism-impacted areas, and matched dollar-for-dollar, by funds raised by the private sector.
7 nonprofits joined us at the Kauai Marriott Resort on Monday. The Boys & Girls Club of Hawai‘i, Kaua‘i Division; Catholic Charities of Hawai‘i, Kaua‘i Office; Hawai‘i Foodbank, Kaua‘i Branch; Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank; Kaua‘i North Shore Food Pantry; ‘Ohana Christian Fellowship; and Salvation Army Hawaiian & Pacific Division – Kaua‘i Corps all received their checks.
On Tuesday at the Maui Beach Hotel, the 9 recipients were Catholic Charities of Hawaii, Maui Division; Family Life Center; Feed My Sheep; Habitat for Humanity; Hale Kau Kau; Ka Hale a Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center; Keiki Cupboard; Maui Food Bank, and The Salvation Army Hawaiian & Pacific Division, Maui Corps.
Thursday morning, the Oahu Allocations were held at the Waikiki Beachcomber by Outrigger. 21 organizations received their additional funds: Corvette Center Ministries; Surfing the Nations; The Salvation Army Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division; Hawaii Foodbank; Aloha Medical Mission; People Attentive to Children (PATCH); Mental Health Kokua; Hale Kipa; Legal Aid Society of Hawaii; Family Promise of Hawaii; Aloha Harvest; United Church of Christ Transition House; River of Life Mission; Young Women’s Christian Association of Oahu; Hawaii Youth Services Network; Project Vision Hawaii; United States Veterans Initiative – Hawaii; Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Oahu; Hawaii Arts Alliance; Ho’oala Na Pua, and The Institute for Human Services.
Then, Thursday afternoon we jetted off to Hawaii Island, where we presented checks to the last seven philanthropic groups. Catholic Charities Hawaii; Habitat for Humanity; Hawai‘i County Economic Opportunity Council; Hawai‘i Food Basket; Hawai‘i Island Home for Recovery; Hope Services Hawaii, and The Salvation Army gathered at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel for their monies.
This would not have been possible without the efforts of Representative Richard Onishi, and Senator Glenn Wakai, as well as our wonderful partnership with HTA. While it has taken some time, it warms my heart to meet with these groups and hear about the impactful work they are doing in their local communities.
Hospitality Industry Pau Hana
Mahalo to all those who came to our first Hospitality Industry Pau Hana of 2019 at Appetito last night! This is wonderful networking opportunity for our members to mix and mingle with one another, and it presents an ideal platform for us to recognize an exceptional professional from within our industry.
In particular, I would like to acknowledge our newest members, who formally joined HLTA, and attended their first event! Warm welcomes to Corey Campbell of Akamai Training & Consulting, Ruben Perez of Oahu Extractions, Kortney Dacanay of Hawaii Self-Storage, Richard Davis of Bank of Hawaii, Lydia Yabsley of Aqua-Aston Hospitality, David Murphey of David Murphey Photography, Rashan and Ronnie Corpuz of Honolulu Premier Flooring, and Breann Guzman of Heide & Cook.
In addition to our Thursday night festivities, we were pleased to honor Outrigger Hospitality Group’s Jerry Dolak, Director of Loss Prevention, with our Kahiau Award.
Jerry has been on the front lines championing visitor and public safety, in his capacity as Director of Loss Prevention for Outrigger Resorts, as well as President of HHVISA, the Hawaii Hotel Visitor Industry Security Association. In addition to being an active member of our organization, Jerry has been a valued partner in many of our emergency management seminars and conferences, as well as coordinating our security efforts for the Visitor Industry Charity Walk on Oahu.
There was raucous support shown for Jerry, particularly from his Outrigger Ohana, who turned out in force to Appetito at the Ohana East Waikiki by Outrigger. Congratulations, Jerry – this was so well-deserved!
LA Rams Press Conference
As part of our many partnerships with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, accompanied by several retired NFL pros, a couple of whom played for the Rams, and a dozen of Hawaii’s finest football coaches, I was excited to be part of yesterday’s press conference announcing the LA Rams’ preseason game. For those of you who may have missed it, the Rams will host the Dallas Cowboys at Aloha Stadium on Saturday, August 17th at 4pm. This will officially be the first exhibition game held at Aloha Stadium since 1976.
Through their partnerships with Hawai’i’s tourism industry, the Rams are looking forward to providing several opportunities for community engagement. Chris Tatum, HTA head, has invited me to share my expertise as the former mayor of Honolulu, and as the current president & CEO of the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association to help connect the Rams’ organization to several key community organizations, schools and individuals. The plan is to hold clinics for several high school football teams, including an 11-on-11 tournament & skills competition and a series of PLAY 60 events. Coinciding with their ongoing military outreach efforts, we will be helping to connect the Rams with Hawaii-based service personnel and their families.
I for one am looking forward to this match-up between last year’s Super Bowl contender, The LA Rams, and “America’s Team”. As one who was tasked with the responsibility of keeping the Pro Bowl in Hawaii for several years, I say mahalo to the LA Rams and HTA for bringing the NFL back to Aloha Stadium!
To watch this morning's KHON Take2 appearance, please click here. For the Press Conference coverage via KHON, click here. For KITV's, click here.
Ho'oilina Scholarship Deadline Extended!
Last week we announced the Ho’oilina Scholarship, which is a two-pronged approach at incentivizing local students interested in becoming tourism professionals to stay in our islands and work toward becoming the next generation of leaders.
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 Brigham Young University- Hawaii, and Hawaii Pacific University.
Additionally, there will be ten available two-year scholarships for community college students utilizing the Hawaii Promise Program and enrolling in the TIM program at the University of Hawaii. 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.
The scholarships are already open for application on our website, at http://www.hawaiilodging.org/scholarship-opportunities.html. But, as announced on KHON2 on Monday evening, we are extending the deadline to April 15th at 12 noon, to allow as much time as possible for these student applicants to showcase themselves and their passion for Hawaii’s number one industry. To catch that interview, please click here.
Visitor Public Safety Conference Next Thursday 03/28
Please don’t forget to register for next Thursday’s Visitor Public Safety Conference, Part II. Tickets are free, thanks to our fellow sponsoring partners: the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Hawaii Hotel Visitor Industry Security Association, Waikiki Improvement Association, & Waikiki Business Improvement District Association.
Not registered yet? Click here.
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!
Mahalo to all of our members who attended the 2nd Annual aio Media Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Awards Friday evening! It was a pleasure to see so many of you gathered to celebrate the achievements of our industry.
It was a beautiful evening at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Great Lawn, and celebrated the exceptional finalists who exemplify excellence in leadership within our industry. I hope that you enjoyed the first-class entertainment from Tihati Productions, Keauhou, Miss Aloha Hula 2015 Jasmine Kalehiwa Dunlap, and Mana’o Company.
This year, we introduced the Tourism Legacy Award, which recognizes individuals who have made profound contributions to the visitor industry, and to Hawaii as a state, over the course of their careers. I could think of no one more fitting than our inaugural recipient, Dr. Chuck Yim Gee, Dean Emeritus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Travel Industry Management. Though Dean Gee was regretfully unable to attend, the former UH Board of Regents member and Pacific Asia Travel Association Gallery of Legends inductee gave his appreciative remarks via proxy, Clyde Min. Congratulations, Chuck – it has been an honor to know you, to continue to learn from you, and mahalo for your lifelong contributions to the visitor industry.
Congratulations to all the nominees and finalists, but especial kudos to our winners of the 2nd Annual aio Media Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Awards:
Cha Thompson, Leadership in the Industry: Contribution to Tourism by an Individual
Vicky Holt Takamine, Leadership in the Industry: Cultural Advisor
Keri Brown, Leadership in the Industry: Young Achiever
Raiatea Helm, Leadership in the Industry: Outstanding Individual in Music & Entertainment
Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, Agritourism: Agriculture Tourism Destination
Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market, Agritourism: Farmers Market
Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, Best Tourism Events: Agriculture Event Using Locally Grown Products
Kauai Chocolate & Coffee Festival, Best Tourism Events: Heritage & Cultural Event
Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, Achievement in Sustainability
Kualoa Ranch, Best Attractions/Activities
Roberts Hawaii, Major Tour & Transport Operators
Side Street Inn, Excellence in Food and Beverage: Casual Dining
Morton’s The Steakhouse, Excellence in Food & Beverage: Fine Dining
The ISO, Best Hotels/Accommodations: Boutique Hotel
Four Seasons Resort O’ahu at Ko Olina, Best Hotels/Accommodations: Small Hotel
Outrigger Waikiki Beach Hotel, Best Hotels/Accommodations: Large Hotel
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Best Hotels/Accommodations: Luxury Accommodations
Tourism Day at the Capitol
On Wednesday February 20th, we hope that you will join us for the 4th Annual HLTA Tourism Day at the Capitol. This is a popular event with our legislators, who turn out to mix and mingle, talk story and visit our mini trade show.
I encourage you all to participate; it is a great way for us to illustrate to our legislators the strength, diversity, and commitment to advocacy that is shared by the members of HLTA. We invite our industry executives to join us at our annual legislative breakfast meet and greet at the Capitol from 8-9am, which will be well attended by our government leaders. Additionally, we encourage everyone to visit our mini trade show on the 4th floor from 9am-12 noon.
Should you have any questions about getting involved, please contact Jared at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Waipahu High School - Marauder Cafe
Waipahu High School’s academies are growing and thriving. This spring semester is the first time that Waipahu has been able to hold two sections of their Culinary Arts class. Now, regardless of whether it’s an “odd” or “even” period day, there are aspiring students learning about hospitality, food service, and what it takes to run a dining room. This hands-on class, facilitated by Waipahu educator Elaine Matsuo, provides these high schoolers an opportunity to immerse themselves in the culinary experiences.
The Marauder Café, which is open to the public by reservation on Tuesdays and Thursdays, is a wonderful opportunity to support these bright, motivated young minds. Ingredients used in their dishes are locally sourced whenever possible with proceeds funneling back into the program to pay for students’ lunches.
I invited Wade Gesteuyala, General Manager of the Hampton Inn & Suites Oahu/Kapolei to join my staff and I last Friday for Opening Day Part 2 and enjoyed some ono Korean dishes prepared by the students. Mahalo to Principal Keith Hayashi, his faculty and to their future culinary leaders for giving us an up close look at their Culinary Academy.
aio Media Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Awards
Tickets to the second annual aio Media Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Awards are going fast! If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, you’re not going to want to miss out on this event. The awards dinner will be held on March 1st at the Hilton Hawaii Village Great Lawn from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
We have a great lineup of entertainment that evening which includes a special showcase from Tihati Productions, a beautiful performance by Miss Aloha Hula 2015 Jasmine Kaleihiwa Dunlap and live music by The Mana’o Company.
To purchase tickets to the event please visit https://hnltix.com/events/hlta. We look forward to seeing you there.
Lei Day at the Capitol
Mahalo to all those who came out and joined us at our annual Lei Day at the Capitol event this past Tuesday. It was a morning filled with advocacy and networking as we walked the halls of the State Capitol wishing our elected officials a productive and successful legislative session. A special shout-out to Sukit Kanaprach and The Orchid Lei Company for sponsoring all the beautiful lei that we presented to our State Representatives, Senators, Lieutenant Governor, and Governor.
Upon an early morning arrival, our group split into three teams, to ensure we could greet each of the legislators with lei to wear during the Governor’s State of the State Address. We also handed out HLTA’s government affairs position statements (found on our website here) as well as a save the date card for our fourth annual Tourism Day at the Capitol event, which will take place on February 20th. We hope many of you will join us for this popular event, which often turns out a fair number of political leaders and allows us an avenue to share more of what we as an industry are doing to help support the economy and the community. This one promises to be another great event! If you want to learn more about participating or would like to have a booth in our mini trade show, please feel free to contact Jared at email@example.com.
Honolulu City Council's Planning Committee Hears TVR Bills
Following our annual Lei Day at the Capitol event, I headed over to Honolulu Hale to testify on the seven transient vacation rental measures being heard before the Honolulu City Council’s Planning Committee. In a room packed with advocates, mostly in support of the enforcement of illegal TVR’s, I offered comments on the measures before our Honolulu Councilmembers.
I stressed a couple of major points:
1- There are currently no perfect bills before the Council that addresses all our concerns satisfactorily but action is needed now more than ever. It is clear where we stand on the issue of illegal transient vacation rentals - we as an industry would like to see transparency, accountability, fairness, and enforcement with substantial fines and penalties. Most importantly, I reiterated a point that I have shared for some time now: this is not simply a hotel industry versus TVR issue, it is TVR’s versus the community which has exacerbated the affordable housing challenges we face daily; and
2- Key members of the legislature are looking for the enforcement piece driven by the counties prior to fully committing to TVR legislation at the state level. With the House and Senate in disagreement on a compromise measure for 3 years now, it is time for Oahu to step up to the plate and join the neighbor islands in establishing rules, regulations, and enforcement on transient vacation rentals.
The planning committee will convene again in February to continue its deliberations on this very important issue. In the meantime, for those of who reside on Oahu, please don’t hesitate to urge your councilmember representing your district to stop kicking the can down the road on this issue and take action while the Legislature is in session.
Women in Lodging Honors Woman of the Year, Laura Richards
Congratulations to our Women in Lodging & Tourism Committee for a successful event honoring 2019 Woman of the Year, Laura Richards, General Manager of the Hanalei Colony Resort on Kaua’i. The networking event was held at the Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach on Wednesday evening where many supporters from across the state came to congratulate Laura on receiving this prestigious award.
Once again, I’d like to commend Laura for exemplifying the qualities of a true leader in her hotel and her community. We wish her, and everyone at the Hanalei Colony Resort, a prosperous 2019. Also in attendance were past Woman of the Year recipients, Lynette Eastman, General Manager for The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club and Barbara Campbell, Vice President of Retail Leasing & Property Management of Outrigger Enterprises Group.
I’d also like to commend our new WIL Committee for executing a wonderful first networking event of the year. I’m looking forward to supporting our new (and returning) WIL Chairperson, Julie Arigo, General Manager of Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani will spur the committee to new heights this year. Thank you to everyone who came out to support WIL!
2019 Charity Walk Kicks Off
I would like to extend a special mahalo to all those who joined us at Pomaikai Ballrooms for our Charity Walk Kick-off Recruiter Breakfast yesterday! It was wonderful to see so many eager recruiters gathered to begin our Charity Walk efforts. It is truly inspiring to see so many motivated community members ready to fundraise for this year’s walk.
Our dynamic emcee duo, Bulla and Lynette Eastman of Aqua-Aston Hospitality, did an great job in engaging our attendees and informing them of our Charity Walk updates. As they turned the microphone over to yours truly, I took the opportunity to discuss two upcoming initiatives. The first was to unveil our partnership with The Wounded Warrior Project Hawai‘i – who will be coordinating a 1K slippah walk with my staff for the morning of Charity Walk. This additional walk is intended to raise funds for a deserving cause, as well as break a Guinness World Record – and have some fun in the process. Secondly, I announced our Second Annual Charity Walk Bowling Tournament, headed by our partners at Salem Media , will be held on April 12th at Aiea Bowl.
My staff also presented on the latest improvements we are implementing for Charity Walk this year. Director of Fiscal Services Jessica Caires reviewed our paper registration process, as well as explained our new deposit protocol, which will allow anyone to make their donation deposits directly to Charity Walk via any First Hawaiian Bank branch. Director of Membership and Communications Ashley Yonamine presented on the latest features of our crowdfunding platform, MobileCause. Should you have any questions about either of these topics, please feel free to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. For any other questions concerning Charity Walk, please contact chief Charity Walk coordinator and Senior Director of Government and Community Affairs Jared Higashi of my staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would also like to thank our Association Chairperson, Glenn Vergara, Senate Energy, Economic Development and Tourism Chair Senator Glenn Wakai, and House Tourism and International Affairs Vice-Chair Representative Daniel Holt for taking time out of their busy mornings to address and encourage our Charity Walk Recruiters. If you were unable to join us, not to worry. Please contact my staff – we will be happy to address questions and provide you with any Charity Walk collateral you may need.
Congratulations to the Hilton Waikiki Beach for winning our 2018 Charity Walk T-shirt contest. They held an in-house T-shirt design contest, and design winner Mary Jane Pagaragan was on hand to receive the award, as well as General Manager Henry Perez. We look forward to seeing what you come up with for 2019!
Finally, I would like to extend a Big Mahalo to Enterprise Holdings: Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Alamo Rent a Car, and National Car Rental, who kick-started our Charity Walk fundraising campaign again with a $10,000 donation, to be distributed amongst the four counties. On hand to present the check this year were Joslyn Bantilan and Rhea Aquiningoc of Enterprise Holdings. Enterprise never fails to support our signature events, including the Citizen-Scholar Awards, the Scholarship Golf Tournament, and our General Membership Meeting: but this annual gift has become their own tradition, and we are deeply grateful. Mahalo to HLTA Board Member Chris Sbarbaro, Vice President of Sales & Marketing - Hawaii at Enterprise Holdings Inc. and his team for their staunch support of Charity Walk!
Call for Volunteers - Waipahu High School
Over the last few years, I have been working with Keith Hayashi, Principal of Waipahu High School, to establish the first nationally-accredited tourism and culinary arts academy in the state. We are currently working on bringing internships and externships to Waipahu students and faculty which will help them achieve vital requirements for national recognition.
Next week Thursday (January 31st) I will be bringing a cohort of hospitality and culinary executives to Waipahu High School at 2:00 p.m. to share our mana’o and experiences with key teachers and staff on the importance of our industry and the emphasis that we place on workforce development. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who may be interested in participating to contact Edgar Palafox at email@example.com.
Opening Day of Hawai'i's 30th Legislative Session
On Wednesday, my two Senior Directors, Edgar Palafox and Jared Higashi, joined me in attending the opening day of the 30th Legislative Session of the State of Hawai‘i. A few key takeaways from the morning’s processions came from the Senate Floor, which raised concerns on a potential economic recession, spoke to the increase of the minimum wage, and highlighted two of our association’s key priorities: the importance of establishing an airports corporation, and addressing the hot button topic of illegal transient vacation rentals.
After the swearing in of our state’s legislators, we traversed the corridors of the big square building, setting the stage for our upcoming Lei Day at the Capitol event on January 22nd. Throughout the afternoon, we visited many of HLTA’s endorsed candidates, both seasoned veterans and freshmen, and shared our sentiments of aloha and congratulations.
On the Tourism Tuesday segment with Mike Buck that I was on this past week, I went into great detail regarding our priority legislative issues. For a full copy of these issues, please click HERE.
Lei Day with HLTA at the Capitol
.Speaking of Lei Day at the Capitol, a tradition of HLTA, we will be officially welcoming the start of the legislative session by lei-ing our elected officials and dropping off our legislative priorities packet next Tuesday, January 22nd.
We will be meeting at the Capitol Rotunda promptly at 8 am, so that the legislators may wear their beautiful lei, courtesy of the Orchid Lei Company, to the Governor’s State of the State address later that morning.
If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to sign-up and join us for a morning filled with networking and advocacy. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY.
Charity Walk Kick-off Breakfast
2018 marked another record-setting year for the Visitor Industry Charity Walk, and to keep that momentum rolling, we are starting our Kick-off earlier than ever, in an effort to give everyone more time to rally the troops and fundraise.
Don’t forget to register here to learn about the latest MobileCause features, tips and tricks for fundraising, and to receive all your Charity Walk collateral. See you on Thursday, January 24th at the Pomaikai Ballrooms at Dole Cannery Iwilei for our 7:30am breakfast!
Oahu Chapter - Cocktail Talk & Tour
Our Oahu Chapter has been busy at work, preparing details for their first quarter programming, and is excited to announce their first Talk & Tour event of 2019. The Queen Kapiolani Hotel, which unveiled their complete renovation makeover, late last year, will be our first venue. Join us on Thursday, January 31st as General Manager Jeff Perkins and his team lead us through their chic new property.
Of course, no HLTA Talk & Tour would be complete without giving the host hotel an opportunity to showcase their food and beverage – and this one is no exception. Arrive at 5pm to enjoy ono pupus, a complimentary cocktail, and an unobstructed Diamond Head sunset view before the tour begins.
As a reminder, all HLTA members are welcome to purchase tickets for Oahu Chapter events. Tickets are limited, so sign up here.
With 2019 just getting underway , permit me to introduce a new feature of my weekly message - a “Member Spotlight” section. Each week, I will highlight a different member of the association that is demonstrating the spirit of aloha in an exemplary way.
This week, I would like to shine the light on our Hawaii Island Chapter Chair, Craig Anderson. HLTA Hawaii Chapter , in partnership with the Kohala Coast Resort Association, has been providing pastries and other snack items to the TSA agents of the Kona International Airport. This twice-a-day delivery from the resorts is a token of appreciation for those hard-working TSA agents, who provide such a great service to our communities and our industry, all year round.
I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of all our members who answered the call from HTA President Chris Tatum, HVCB President John Monahan and yours truly , during this time of need for the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites. To date, the donations from the tourism private industry partners total over $260,000, which is projected to keep the Sites open & operational for approximately another month, should the shutdown continue.
Last, but certainly not least: please welcome our newest members of HLTA, as listed below:
Earnonn Kinsella, Allana Buick & Bers
Steven Pang, Atlas Insurance
Devin Fukunaga, Atlas Insurance
Stephen Wright, Avis Budget Group
Richard Davis, Bank of Hawaii
Shelly Sakuma, Coastal Windows & Doors
Tiana Gamble, Creative Design Hawaii
David Murphey, David Murphey Photography
Michelle de Peralta, Guest Supply
Ruth Newby, Hakuyosha International, Inc.
Laura Richards, Hanalei Colony Resort
Daniel Ho, Hawaii Self-Storage
Ryno Irwin, Hawaii Unified Industries
David Jung, Hawaiian Rent All
Sarah Taveprungsenukul, Hospitality Maven
Louis Cheng, Mechanical Engineers of Hawaii
Jeff Gray, Netcom Enterprises
Thomas Mangum, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Brandon DeCuir, React Mobile
Santi Oloriz, RF Technologies
Lisa Briggs, Sempra Energy
Rob Iopa, WCIT Architecture
Stay in the know
Keep up with HLTA through our blog! Let us know what you think in the comment box below each post.