Most people, when they hear ‘Outrigger’, think of Hawaii. And while it’s true that Outrigger has a commanding presence in the Hawaiian islands, it also has properties in Australia, Fiji, Guam, Thailand, Mauritius and the Maldives, with future resorts planned for China, Vietnam and beyond. For this edition of Friday Five, Elizabeth ‘Ellie’ Agustin, Business Development Manager, Travel Agent Sales, Outrigger Enterprises Group, talks about the company’s expansion and the benefits of its Outrigger Expert Agent Program.
1. Outrigger is one of the best-known names in Hawaii hotels, with a history that goes back almost 70 years. What was the company’s first hotel in Hawaii?
Agustin: Outrigger founders Roy and Estelle Kelley built their first hotel in 1947. The 50-room Islander Hotel was located on Seaside Avenue in the heart of Waikiki. It was a five-story walk-up and at the time was the first new hotel to be built in Waikiki in over 20 years.
The first of our hotels, however, to carry the Outrigger name was the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort. In 1963, the lease on the land occupied by the old Outrigger Canoe Club was running out and the Queen Emma Estate, which owned this beautiful piece of beachfront land, was negotiating with Sheraton Hotels for a long-term lease. When those negotiations broke down, Mr. Kelley stepped in and agreed to the landowner’s price.
When completed in 1967, Mr. Kelley named the hotel the Outrigger Waikiki to pay homage to the Outrigger Canoe Club that had occupied that part of the beach for so many years. In 1984, our company officially took the name Outrigger as our corporate identity.
Today, here in Hawaii, in addition to our own Outrigger and OHANA brands, the company manages properties under a multitude of other brands. The newest addition to our Hawaii portfolio of managed properties is the Hokulani Waikiki by Hilton Grand Vacations Club, where we manage and staff on-property operations with sales and marketing handled by the HGVC group.
The Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort completed an extensive renovation a couple of years ago and the Outrigger-managed Embassy Suites-Waikiki Beach Walk is just finishing up a renovation of all guest rooms.
2. How has the company changed and grown in the past few years?
Agustin: Over the past decade, Outrigger has grown beyond the shores of Hawaii to become a global company. We now have 45 properties within our current portfolio with approximately 11,000 rooms located in seven different countries with plans to open additional Outrigger Resorts annually over the next decade.
Outrigger also has an Asia office based in Phuket, Thailand, and international sales and marketing offices worldwide, with representation in Japan, Australia, China, Korea, the UK, France and Germany.
Most recently we launched Outrigger Resorts – our dedicated beachfront resort brand that includes our existing world-class properties in Hawaii, Australia, Fiji, Guam, Thailand, Mauritius and now the Maldives, as well as future resorts planned for China, Vietnam and elsewhere across Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean.
3. What is the difference between the Outrigger brand and the OHANA brand?
Agustin: Our just-introduced Outrigger Resorts brand is our dedicated beachfront brand that includes our 15 existing world-class properties located along some of the world’s most incredible beaches. Each is focused on delivering culturally authentic guest experiences and signature amenities, including iconic beachfront bars, exceptional spas and a premier Voyager 47 club lounge.
With the launch of the Outrigger Resorts brand, the company’s resort condominium properties on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island are now marketed under a new brand, Hawaii Vacation Condos by Outrigger.
OHANA properties are moderately priced hotels located off the beach and only Hawaii.
4. How does Outrigger offer a truly authentic Hawaiian experience to its guests?
Agustin: All Outrigger Resorts are guided by the company’s proprietary standard of hospitality, Ke ‘Ano Wa‘a, ‘The Outrigger Way’. This unique approach to hospitality deepens the company’s understanding of and appreciation for local host cultures.
The Outrigger Way has been adapted globally at every property to embrace authentic cultural programs and amenities that underscore Outrigger’s commitment to its guests and local communities, and the relationships between host, guest and place.
5. What is the Outrigger Expert Agent Program, and what benefits does it offer to agents?
Agustin: Our travel partners are extremely valuable to Outrigger’s business. We know that agents are running a mile a minute each and every day, so we are committed to doing everything we can to make their jobs just a little bit easier. We recently introduced a new Travel Professionals Guide for 2015 that is a handy resource for travel agents.
To help support our travel agent partners, Outrigger offers a points-based incentive program exclusive to travel agents. Our Outrigger Expert Agent program provides online resources that provide agents 24/7 access to online education courses highlighting all Outrigger properties, up-to-date property maps and information, exclusive specials, complimentary client welcome amenities, invitations to exclusive events and fam trips and more.
In addition to online resources, Outrigger Expert Agents have access to additional support through our central call centre, a one-stop reservation call portal.
Agents can find out more about the Outrigger Expert Agent program on our travel agent dedicated website outriggeragent.com.