192nd General Membership Meeting
We are back in the HLTA offices having just wrapped up an amazing weekend at the West Hapuna Beach Resort where we held our 192nd General Membership Meeting. It was a pleasure to catch up with so many familiar faces and to get to know some of our newest HLTA members.
We kicked off the weekend on Thursday evening with an event hosted by our Women In Lodging & Tourism Committee. The discussion panel included guest speakers Malani DeAguiar of Kamehameha Schools and Ku'ulei Keakealani-Case from Ka Pilina Poina 'Ole and was deftly moderated by Kawehi Inaba of Kupa'a Business Planners.
The panel, which was entitled Moku O Keawe: A Sense of Place, opened with an oli and covered a wide variety of topics that focused on how a person can begin to belong to a physical place like Hawai'i by embracing and adopting the local cultural practices and protocols. It was an especially fitting topic as our industry works to perpetuate the Hawaiian culture in a sensitive way.
On Friday morning, our Allied Members took the stage at our annual Sponsor Showcase where they exhibited their best products and services.
Friday Lunch & Learn
After lunch and the HLTA Board of Directors Meeting, Lieutenant Governor Josh Green joined us as our first Lunch & Learn Speaker for this year's GMM. The Lieutenant Governor focused his remarks on homelessness, which has been his main focus on behalf of Governor David Ige's administration. He commended HLTA for its active financial support for non-profit groups throughout the state.
Following Lieutenant Governor Green, we hosted a government panel that included State Senator Kai Kahele, State Representative James Tokioka, and Hawai'i County Councilmember Tim Richards III. Mauna Kea Resort General Manager and Vice President of Operations Craig Anderson served as moderator and led a quality discussion on the tourism industry, the government arena, and how these two entities affect each other.
Friday night's reception featured a "Trashion Show" led by Hawai'i County Councilmember Rebecca Villegas, second from right.
After the "Trashion Show," HLTA members were treated to a live performance by 14-time Na Hoku Hanohano Award Winner Mark Yamanaka.
General Membership Meeting
On Saturday morning, we held our General Membership Meeting where we said farewell to HLTA Chairman Glenn Vergara who, for the past year, has been exemplary in this leadership role. He tirelessly worked to grow our association and was passionate about Charity walk. Glenn passed the gavel to our new Board Chair Michael Jokovich. This will be his second time serving in this capacity and, if I remember anything from his last tenure, you can be certain that all HLTA events under his leadership will be meaningful and fun!
I also delivered my annual State of the Industry Address. My remarks this year highlighted our key partnerships, the issues that our industry will face in 2020 like overtourism, illegal vacation rentals, possible increases to the TAT and Real Property Tax rates, the establishment of an Airports Corporation, and homelessness. A key portion of my speech also focused on where HLTA must go from here to meet these challenges successfully.
One of our main areas of focus going forward will be to grow the HLTA membership base. At GMM, I issued a personal request to our membership that each member personally strive to bring two new members into the HLTA fold before our trade show in April. I shared a video showing some of the perks that come with joining our association. You can see that at the link below.
Each of You Reach Two - GMM 2019
I also announced our newest public engagement initiative, the HLTA Education Fund, which will serve one main goal: to EDUCATE our elected officials, stakeholders, and the general public on the positive effect that our industry has on our community as a whole.
Going forward, I emphasized that the leaders of our industry must take a more active role in the political process. As we are approaching a major election year, there is a significant opportunity to elect candidates from our industry who will consistently support our causes. For this reason, we must continue to contribute to our HOTELPAC so that the candidates of our choosing will have the backing needed to win key races.
Senator Kurt Fevella was kind enough to join us to tell his story and share how HLTA helped him to emerge victorious in the last election. Mahalo to Senator Fevella for making the trip to Hawai'i Island and for being such a strong ally for the tourism industry of Hawai'i.
If you would like a copy of my GMM remarks, please e-mail our Director of Communications Jared Ellis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday Lunch & Learn
Our final Lunch & Learn session of the weekend was a good one.
John De Fries, Executive Director of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, led things off with a powerful speech that touched on topics that ranged from the Kumulipo, to the Hokule'a, to the use of 'olelo Hawai'i to name celestial objects that have been discovered through telescopes in Hawai'i. I heard multiple positive comments about the subject matter from those in attendance.
Hawai'i Tourism Authority President & CEO Chris Tatum was our last speaker for the weekend and his presentation on tourism management, delivered in a markedly talk story style, was the perfect way to come full circle on many of the topics that were touched on throughout the weekend.
My sincerest mahalo to all of those who shared their mana'o at this year's GMM and to all of you who took the opportunity to share your thoughts on what is important for our industry. It is always refreshing to hear different viewpoints on the subjects that we spend so much of our time and energies.
Tailgate By the Sea
On Saturday evening, HLTA members descended upon the Makai Pool and Naupaka Grille to enjoy our first ever Tailgate by the Sea. In addition to an amazing sunset and delicious food, multiple TVs were set up for our members to cheer on the UH Warrior football team as they took on Air Force.
While we were at GMM, readers of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and USA Today around the state found the HLTA story on a special spadea that we've reproduced above. If you'd like to see a high resolution copy of all four pages, please click here.
In closing, my warmest mahalo to everybody who attended and made our 192nd General Membership Meeting a success. Thank you in particular to Craig Anderson and the entire staff at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort. Mahalo for hosting us and for making our stay a pleasant and memorable one.
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