The Bratton Team

AHICE Aloha Conference launches in Hawai’i

The Aloha Hotel Industry Conference and Exhibition (AHICE) has been launched in Hawai’i with over 100 delegates at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort this week (Nov 29). James Wells reports from Honolulu.

AHICE Aloha 2023 represents the first time the AHICE brand has entered a market outside of Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia and this launch event was a preview for a much larger conference scheduled to be held in Hawai’i in late November 2024.

Some of the key issues discussed on stage included the impact of rising interest rates and debt maturity on transactions in the region as well as access to capital for renovations and development; delays with permitting for development and renovations; capacity for more luxury and ultra-luxury properties in the region focusing on cultural and regenerative tourism; mandates for social housing as well as the potential for a recession that may also lead to a boom from Asia and Japan.

The event attracted leading executives in the Hawai’ian hotels market including Jerry Gibson (President of the Hawai’i Hotel Alliance), Jeff Wagoner (President and CEO of Outrigger Hospitality Group), Paul Gorman (General Manager – Business Development – Luxury Escapes), Kevin Aucello (Principal of Powell & Aucello), Emily Reber Porter (Chief Operating Officer – MacNaughton), Kenneth Kan (Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer for Outrigger Hospitality Group), Mark Bratton (Senior Vice President – Hawai’i – Investment Services Division – Colliers), Teri Orton (General Manager – Honolulu Convention Centre) and Aaron Sala (Director & Creative Cultural Producer – Cirque du Soleil Hawai’i.

The conference also featured a special media panel on how hotels can benefit from ‘earned media’ which is coverage that a hotel does not create or pay for itself.

This panel featured a broad range of media representatives including Kam Napier (Editor in Chief at Pacific Business News), Allison Schaefers (Waikiki Bureau Chief at the Honolulu Star Advertiser), Kristina Lockwood (General Manager – KHON2 TV) and Monica Salter (VP Global Communications & Social Responsibility for the Outrigger Hospitality Group).

One of the most exciting developments to take place in the Hawai’ian hospitality industry has not been a hotel development or transaction – but the announcement of a deal with Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group to secure a new multi-year resident show, exclusive to Hawai’i at the Outrigger Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel from late 2024.

Speaking on a panel chaired by AHICE Convenor James Wilkinson, Aaron Sala, the director and creative cultural producer fir Cirque du Soleil Hawai’i shared his vision for the production which is scheduled to open in late 2024.

Outrigger Hospitality Group President and CEO, Jeff Wagoner, explained what it meant to his hotel group and the broader Hawai’ian community.

“Aaron has done an unbelievable job to curate the show and this is going to reflect all of the beautiful elements of Hawai’i and it is going to be an experience that will include hula, dance and song and it will also have the acrobatics of Cirque.

“What can we do differently, and we need people to spend more money when they get here – so you have to give them something to spend it on, and will create a reason for people to come to Hawai’i and also create a lot of buzz among the community as well.”

AHICE Aloha sponsor and panel moderator, Rodger Powell from THSA, has strong ties to the Hawai’ian hotel market and shared his thoughts on the outcomes from the conference.

“It was clear that there is a hunger for this type of event in Hawai’i – people were very keen to discuss the issues affecting the local hotel market as well as enjoy the networking opportunities. I am confident that this event will evolve and grow in the future.

“The hotel industry is very different in every global market with specific issues as well as cultural influences. The content for this conference – like every other AHICE Conference – has been very relevant to the people working in this market.

“The key take-outs from this conference that I am interested to address in 12 months will be to see if the local hotel industry has been successful with making progress on getting more government support.

“There is a strong movement for transition from traditional tourism that the community does not want to a higher yielding and higher value tourism that the community does want and it will be interesting to see whether the government will put up the money for that to happen.

“Coming out of Covid, the message from the community in Hawai’i was that they want better behaved tourists – so they want to reclaim their island home which makes sense if you are attracting a lot of tourists and you can’t enjoy your own backyard, you want some of your space back.

“They are right to think that there is an opportunity to shift, but you can’t shift without a plan and a plan takes money and the hotel industry is already putting up $845 million in hotel taxes and the government can probably spend some of that to help transition the category to the product that the community wants Read More.

The launch of AHICE Aloha was proudly sponsored by Outrigger Hospitality Group, THSA, Luxury Escapes, Macnaughton, Travmedia, American Robotic Services, Hilton Grand Vacations and Wayfarer.