Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Two landmark Maui restaurants have gone out of business in the last week. Both Compadres at the Cannery Mall and Manana Garage in Kahului are the latest Maui businesses that have succumbed to the the current economic state.
For a take on how Maui business people saw yesterday's economic news, take a look at this article:
Monday, September 29, 2008
August's 20.9% decrease in visitor arrivals (as compared to 2007) was compounded by a drop in West Coast visitor spending by 7.3%. Put plainly, we have fewer visitors who are spending less money while they're here.
Maui's decline of almost 21% in visitor arrivals isn't that bad when you compare it to the other islands: the Big Island had a visitor count decrease of 22.9% and Kauai had decrease of 25 percent.
The economic slowdown here is palpable. There are fewer diners in restaurants, and in many cases you no longer need reservations. Cruise down Front Street and you have your choice of parking spaces. You can breeze in and out of Costco and Walmart in record time; last night, Walmart's parking lot looked like were closed, it was that empty. Traffic on Honoapiilani Highway is far lighter than usual with plenty of wide open lanes on my drive home.
It's all just speculation on the duration of this downturn. My crystal ball isn't any clearer than anyone else's. I'd like to think that we just have to weather the storm until Christmas and then optimism will return, and then I look at today's stock market results and start to think that perhaps it is me who is being optimistic.
If you haven't seen it, here are the details from last Saturday's Maui News:
Friday, September 26, 2008
Continuing our discussion of hotel ratings, their meaning and veracity, the below article from independenttraveler.com gives good perspective between OTA (on-line travel agencies, like Expedia and Orbitz) rating systems and ratings by actual travellers on sites like tripadvisor.com.
The article gives the examples of two different hotels, one of which has a higher aggregate rating from the OTAs than it does from the travellers and the other with higher traveler ratings than those given by the OTAs.
Some lessons to be learned are:
1. Do not assume that 1, 2, 3 or 4 stars, diamonds or widgets mean the same thing between different rating systems - the best thing to do is to find the key to the ratings so you know how each property is actually being rated. OTA rating systems, for example, bear little resemblance to those used by Mobile or AAA, even though they all use a 1 to 5 scale.
2. Comments and reviews made by independent travelers are just that - independent. They bear no relation to anything except that particular person's experiences and expectations. The best way to judge these comments is to look for a theme among the comments for the same property. If ten out of twelve reviews mention the nearby train tracks, for example, you can be pretty sure that it is an issue for that property. Conversely, if one review mentions the crabby front desk staff and the other eleven either don't make mention or comment in glowing terms, you can be pretty sure who was really crabby that day. Also, some sites such as tripadvisor.com let you see all of the reviews of a particular reviewer, so you can get some idea as to that reviewer's actual frame of mind - if all of their reviews are rating properties as 5 star, they're either easily impressed, not very particular or very fortunate!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
With August's projected number of tourism arrivals to be about 14% below last year, and layoffs and cutbacks in most employment sectors, some local economists still believe that, all thing considered, Hawaii's economy may not be that bad. According to this article in today's Advertiser, ... (Leroy Laney, a professor of economics and finance at Hawai'i Pacific University) said people shouldn't despair since Hawai'i's economic cycles usually involve short downturns and longer expansionary periods.
"Good times will return again. It's not like we've permanently fallen off of a cliff," he said. The rebound may come in 2010 or 2011.
"All you can do is just hang on and know that eventually good times will return."
Sometimes, especially when things look bad, it is difficult to remember that the economy is cyclical and things will turn around. It's just a matter of how long you can (or want to!) wait.
Monday, September 22, 2008
As I have previously mentioned, Outrigger is always looking for ways to promote the Outrigger Maui Eldorado. These days, marketing is even more important than before as the same number of businesses chase fewer potential clients. Listed below are two opportunities recently offered by our wholesale partners.The following was sent in an email blast by American Airlines to their frequent fliers:
Americantours, in partnership with CAA, the Canadian Automobile Association, is offering the following deals to their members:
Thursday, September 18, 2008
There is much talk these days about hotel ratings. Everyone has their own ideas of what constitutes adequate lodging and what makes a hotel worth the money. Most people believe they can tell a five-star quality property just by their observations of the architecture and the decor, but there is much more to it than that. Travelers also believe a one-star property is substandard, dirty and dangerous but, according to AAA's rating system, that is far from the case. It seems every on-line travel agency has their own criteria, thus further blurring the lines and creating the inferior/superior impressions amongst guests.
Here is AAA's quick definition of the what their diamond ratings mean:
One Diamond: These establishments typically appeal to the budget-minded traveler. They provide essential, no-frills accommodations. They meet the basic requirements pertaining to comfort, cleanliness, and hospitality.
Two Diamond: These establishments appeal to the traveler seeking more than the basic accommodations. There are modest enhancements to the overall physical attributes, design elements, and amenities of the facility typically at a moderate price.
Three Diamond: These establishments appeal to the traveler with comprehensive needs. Properties are multifaceted with a distinguished style, including marked upgrades in the quality of physical attributes, amenities, and level of comfort provided.
Four Diamond: These establishments are upscale in all areas. Accommodations are progressively more refined and stylish. The physical attributes reflect an obvious enhanced level of quality throughout. The fundamental hallmarks at this level include an extensive array of amenities combined with a high degree of hospitality, service, and attention to detail.
Five Diamond: These establishments reflect the characteristics of the ultimate in luxury and sophistication. Accommodations are first class. The physical attributes are extraordinary in every manner. The fundamental hallmarks at this level are to meticulously serve and exceed all guest expectations while maintaining an impeccable standard of excellence. Many personalized services and amenities enhance an unmatched level of comfort.
OK, so where do you think that the Maui Eldorado lies on AAA's rating scale? I'd like to hear what you think and why.
In case you'd like more detailed information, here's a link to AAA's document explaining their rating criteria:
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Sometimes, the particular words that are used to make a point really make that point hit home. Perhaps it's the combination of the actual words. Or maybe it's the rhythm of the sentence. Or maybe it's just the combination of words that spark a particular jolt of electricity that turns on that light bulb over your head.
"People are purchasing a fixed experience rather than travelling for travel's sake" said Thomas Kahnstamm.
Think about that for a minute. It's not the adventure of travel that's important, it's the experience. And it's not just any experience, it's a "fixed experience" - the guest insists on knowing ahead of time exactly all of the details of what he is buying.
It's not transportation from point A to point B that the traveller is buying from the airline, it's the meal, the movie, the flight attendant's attitude, the seat pitch and the lack of turbulence that the flyer believes they have purchased; they've purchased the whole flying experience.
It's not a comfortable bed, four walls and air conditioning that the guest is buying from us. They're buying a particular decor, a certain size bed, that unit in the building they stayed in last year, those smiling employee faces, the immediate transportation to the cabana; the whole Outrigger Maui Eldorado experience.
Do you think that we as a property meet the guests' expectations of the fixed experience they believe they are buying?
Even in the face of yesterday's bad news, Linda Lingle and Marsha Weinert are trying to put a positive spin on what may seem like grim tidings. I do like the way they think, however, by not giving up in the face of adversity and by thinking of what needs to be done now so that Hawaii is poised to take advantage of the eventual turnaround.
That's exactly what we here at the Maui Eldorado should be doing; we should be using this slow time to make those upgrades and repairs that are difficult to do during times of peak occupancy. That way, when the guests come back (and they will), both the property and the individual units will be looking the way our guests believe a condo property in a major Maui resort area should look.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Well, the vog has lifted but more doom-and-gloom has settled in, hopefully just for the short term.
Yesterday's financial news hit Hawaii hard, as evidenced by this article in today's Honolulu Advertiser: http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080916/NEWS01/809160372/1001
I continue to remain hopeful that, given stable world oil prices and a new president who hits the ground running, 2009 will have to be better than 2008. But my crystal ball is no longer under warranty and, given yesterday's news, we need to be ready for anything and be able to turn on a dime. We are continuing to adjust our packages and programs for next year based on the our on-the-books numbers and on our projected occupancy.
Monday, September 15, 2008
It's back - the volcanic fog known as vog. It was particularly noticeable yesterday as a persistent dark haze hanging over the Puu Kukui. And, with the absence of the tradewinds, it's still here today.
When Kilauea's Halema'uma'u crater exploded this spring for the first time since 1924, it sent large amounts of sulfur dioxide into the air. Consequently, there have been many more voggy days following the eruption.
Here on Maui, the vog is not a health hazard but is a strange sight. Looking toward Lahaina from the Pali, the sky looks as though it might rain, tinged as it is with a dark gray. But, as you drive along, you can see that the gray is just haze high in the atmosphere. It gives a kind of strange light, as though someone had turned down the sun's dimmer switch.
The weather forecast calls for an increase in the tradewinds tonight. With any luck, we'll have our usual clear blue skies on Tuesday.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Recently, our sales department offered us an opportunity to write a testimonial for TripRes.com's website. TripRes.com is owned by Prestige Travel (retail chain of about 15 agencies throughout Las Vegas) and is their on line travel agency (OTA). Chris at TripRes.com came up with the idea for someone at each of the properties that TripRes.com sells to write a testimonial about what makes that property unique. The Outrigger Maui Eldorado's was just posted today at http://www.tripresblog.com/.
Will it generate additional bookings? We'll see, but any bookings that we get will be in addition to what we have now! It's not a bad gamble for about ten minutes work on my part.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Check out our prominent ad in this issue of Travel Weekly. The ad highlights the Outrigger Condominium Collection and Maui's grocery promotion. Travel Weekly is one of the most widely-read travel industry publications.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
The economic news from all three newspapers does not bode well for the fall season, nor for the first quarter of 2009. Even Christmas, normally the busiest time of the year, will be off, according to these articles.
"With such weakness during our traditionally high summer season, we will likely see a very sharp drop for 2008 when compared to last year," said Joseph Toy, president and chief executive of Hospitality Advisors, a Honolulu-based tourism consulting firm. "The fall shoulder season also looks troubling with a lot of uncertainty for the first quarter 2009."
While I have discussed the slowdown in our occupancy with you in detail in the monthly newsletter, it bears repeating that the rest of this year will be below last year's results. Some forecasters are looking for a recovery perhaps in late 2009 or in 2010. Our Christmas dates still look strong; we will, however, soon begin to reconfirm those reservations on the books.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
While we continue to see overall occupancies reduced from last year, we are picking up a little bit of business each week. This business is coming from a multitude of sources, which is why it is always good to take advantge of all possible marketing opportunities. We've hosted several travel writers this spring and summer. An article by John Smith, travel writer for Edmonton, Canada's Sheild newspaper was here in June. Here is his article: http://shieldmedia.ca/default.asp?sourceid=&smenu=159&twindow=Default&mad=No&sdetail=11055&wpage=1&skeyword=&sidate=&ccat=&ccatm=&restate=&restatus=&reoption=&retype=&repmin=&repmax=&rebed=&rebath=&subname=&pform=&sc=1944&hn=shieldmedia&he=.ca
We also have Jason Rich (jasonrich.com), a well known author on many subjects, staying with us in October.
These opportunites come to us from our corporate office, from Kaanapali Beach Resort Association or from the Maui Visitor's Bureau. I try to take advantage of each one to get our name out there. These days, you never know where a free-lance journalist will have an article published or, better still, which national media will pick it up for wider distribution.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Maria Lanikila Catholic Church in Lahaina is officially 150 years old today. The church, on Wainee St. at Dickenson, is the oldest Catholic church on Maui.
Established by priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Maria Lanakila Church's records show its founders initially ran into resistance, but in time, according to Reverend Gary Colton, "the faith spread in spite of troubles until more than 3,000 Catholics were here at the end of 1841."
When the Catholic clergy arrived on Maui, they initially settled into a small house off Front Street by the area where King Kamehameha III Elementary School now stands and had mass on the beach. They eventually acquired the 8 acres on Wainee Street.
Maria Lanakila was dedicated on Sept. 8, 1858, and the parsonage was built at the same time, both with coral stone and adobe.
The church has undergone very few modifications over time and is open during the day for visits and prayers.
Friday, September 5, 2008
The poll results are in!
What is your favorite Maui Activity?
The beach, it's all about the beach - 44%
Shopping, shopping and more shopping - 0%
Activity? Are you nuts? - 22%
When do we eat?! - 33%
It's obviously all about the beach. But I wouldn't blame you for doing nothing and for eating while you were there. That'll make everyone happy!
Yesterday, the Hawaii Tourism Authority met to discuss releasing additional funds to direct to the marketing of the state.
One plan is to advertise in those cities that have direct air service to Hawaii, namely Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix, Chicago, Denver, Dallas and New York City. Hawaii generally does not spend much money on direct marketing; those funds usually go to HTA and HVCB (Hawaii Visitor's and Convention Bureau) and HVCB's island affiliates (like the Maui Visitor's Bureau), who market the state to travel agents through trade shows and the like.
Both articles have quotes from David Carey, Outrigger's president and CEO. And, there's an interesting difference between the headlines and the focus of both articles. I've also included the supportive editorial from today's Advertiser. I'll let you draw your own conclusions!
Thursday, September 4, 2008
While many Hawaii businesses are glum about island business conditions, scroll down to the bottom two paragraphs for Outrigger's take on the situation in this article in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
The following advertisement will appear in the September 29th issue of TravelAge West magazine. TravelAge West is distributed to thousands of travel agents and travel professionals in the western United States. Outrigger normally spends a greater effort advertising to travel agents than we do to the direct consumer and this ad is one of those efforts. This is an example of a co-op ad, meaning that different partners cooperated or came together for the promotion, in this case the partners are All About Hawaii, one of our wholesale partners; Outrigger Hotels; Hawaiian Airlines; the Hawaii Visitor's Bureau and USTA.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
You probably already knew this, but each geographic region has it's own name list for storms. The G storm for the Atlantic was Gustav; the G storm for the Pacific this year was Genevieve. The storm names are identified six years in advance. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has the lists so you can check to see if there's a storm with your name on it between now and 2013. The practice of naming hurricanes grew out of the storms that struck the West Indies. Those storms were named for the saints on whose day they struck.