Supporting Success in Paradise: Marriott CRN & Mixed Model

HAWAII — The eight Marriott International Convention & Resort Network (CRN) member properties in Hawaii can turn to the network to help them attract and maintain business.

By RoseMary MacVicar-Elliott 

HAWAII – What does it take to be a successful
resort or hotel in a remote location like Hawaii, a U.S. state made up of eight main
islands in the central Pacific Ocean?

In this tropical paradise, a 3,764 km
flight from San Francisco, effective marketing is essential. The eight Marriott
International Convention & Resort Network (CRN) member properties in Hawaii
can turn to the network to help them attract and maintain business.

Todd Sherstad, Director, CRN.

Todd Sherstad, Director, CRN.

“The CRN helps members share customers and
sell together while maintaining strong service standards,” said Todd Sherstad,
Director, CRN, during a recent media tour of CRN properties in Hawaii. “We
speak louder and more clearly in unison.”

The CRN is a collection of 109 of the largest convention
and resort hotels across the Americas, including six in Canada. (The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver is
the newest Canadian member.)  The network
focuses on supporting meeting planners who execute larger meetings and events, such
as for incentive travel, conferences and weddings in Hawaii. Operating much
like an association, the CRN requires members to be national organizations and
meet specified standards, including minimum room requirements of 350 for resorts
and 600 for hotels. Members pay dues and can opt in or out.

Westin Maui GM Thomas Dante Foti.

Westin Maui GM Thomas Dante Foti.

The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, a 759-room resort on Ka’anapali Beach, is a
newer CRN member. “The CRN makes multi-year events across the network more
seamless,” said General Manager Thomas Dante Foti. “We are thrilled to be a
part of this organization that represents a Halo group of resorts and
properties best suited to take tremendous care of our valued meeting and
convention partners.”

Planners can use CRN resources such as virtual
site visit videos (http://www.meetingsbuzz.conventionresortnetwork.com/check-out-our-videos) and
MeetingsImagined.com (https://meetingsimagined.com/) to match key components
to their meeting purpose and then work directly with property events teams to
bring the vision to life. Other tools include a real-time Meeting Service App
and post-convention report covering room pick-up, catering and Internet
usage. 

The 8.9-hectare Wailea Beach Resort –
Marriott, Maui, a CRN member, is leveraging the network’s collective marketing to
help penetrate the luxury travel market. The renovated 547-room property was unveiled
just over a year ago after a $100 million renovation and another $50 million was
later invested in it. Selling points range from the indoor-outdoor Humble
Market Kitchin, the resort’s signature eatery by famed Hawaiian chef Roy
Yamaguchi, to the 0.81-hectare
Nalu pool with the longest water slide in Hawaii.  Alvin Wong, Director of Marketing, said CRN and
corporate marketing, combined with factors such as the resort’s proactive
ownership and human capital, are important to reaching the “elevated”
demographic for this “once in a lifetime” project.

Changing
It Up
With
a variety of accommodation available across Hawaii, changing models can also
spell success. On the island of Hawaii, a more isolated and the most southern island, the 6.4-hectare
Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa converted its 555 hotel rooms to 297 hotel rooms and 112 Marriott Vacation Club time-share
units as part of a multi-million dollar renovation.“It’s demand driven on
what people want,” said General Manager Steve Yannarell when the bulk of the project was complete in
mid-2017. “We had too many hotel rooms on the (Kohala) coast, and a growing
demand for our Vacation Club-type offerings.”

The mix has worked well since the new
configuration launched last spring. Waikoloa occupancy rates are averaging 75 – 80% for hotel
rooms and 85 – 90% for
time-shares and resort employment is more stable for workers who may have been
temporarily laid off during slower periods in the past. The last piece of the project, renovation of the Hale
building to feature 14 oceanfront hotel rooms – six suites and eight guestrooms
– is scheduled to wrap up in late January.

Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club GM Paul Toner.

Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club GM Paul Toner.

At the also remote north end of the islands
on Kauai, “The Garden Isle”, the 14-hectare Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach
Club, converted from 800 hotel rooms to 356 hotel rooms, including suites, and 232
Vacation Club time-share units. “Our unique mix of hotel rooms and time-share
units creates distinct in-room experiences while allowing guests in both our
hotel and Marriott Vacation Club wings to take advantage of the world-class
amenities throughout the resort,” said General Manager Paul Toner. “The resort
has been ahead of the trend in creating residential-style amenities for the
modern-day traveler, such as a landscaped outdoor grill area for guests to cook
local produce and ingredients. This year, we added three outdoor oceanfront
fire pits, creating natural spaces for guests to connect.”

Much
More
Many
other factors contribute to a property’s prosperity in the Aloha State and make Hawaii,
despite being one of the
world’s most isolated land masses,
popular for leisure and group travel. For 2016, the Hawaii Tourism Authority
reported that a record-breaking 8.9 million visitors travelled to Hawaii,
translating to 220,000 visitors on any given day. They spent a record-high
$15.6 billion. Other success factors can include:

· 
Cluster/complex collaborations with “sister”
properties to serve group needs around meeting space, food and beverage and
more as a unit; 

· 
Year-round outdoor meeting spaces, such as
breathtaking oceanfront lawns;

· 
Unique swimming pools and other recreation
facilities;

· 
Opportunities to experience the spirit of Aloha and
authentic Hawaiian culture;

· 
Initiatives to minimize impact on the environment;
and

· 
Weather – a hard mainland winter can mean an uptake
in business.

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