Aloha Ambassadors

Waikiki’s new association is like a guardian angel for clients

By: Marty Wentzel

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Aloha Ambassador assisting tourists in Waikiki.
Successful travel agents bend over backward to help clients line up a fail-safe Waikiki getaway. Still, no matter how much advance legwork is done ahead of time, wouldn’t it be nice to have a guardian angel watching over those clients once the vacation starts?

They do, thanks to a new initiative from the Waikiki Business Improvement District Association (WBIDA). Called Aloha Ambassadors, the program launched in July consists of 14 people whose sole goal is to share information, assistance and hospitality to the visitors and residents of the one-square-mile destination.

“We launched the Aloha Ambassadors program to provide a visible, friendly and helpful presence in the Waikiki corridor,” said Jan Yamane, executive director of WBIDA.

“In Waikiki, we really want the aloha spirit to pervade, and we want our visitors and residents to feel safe,” said Yamane. “We would like them to know that they have someone who can help them with their daily needs and requests, the way a good friend would.”

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Aloha Ambassadors pose in front
of Waikiki Beach.
Garbed in bright green uniform shirts and armed with ready smiles, the Aloha Ambassadors stand out in a crowd. Traveling the streets and sands of Waikiki on bicycle and foot, they assist the public with directions and inquiries about the district, its businesses and its services.

They respond to calls concerning specific incidents, from suspicious persons to first-aid situations. They even escort people to their vehicles when safety becomes an issue.

The Aloha Ambassadors range in age from 19 to 74. Some speak two languages fluently and one speaks three, but all of them have been selected based on their outgoing personalities and willingness to help others.

With 70,000 people visiting Waikiki on an average day, the Aloha Ambassadors create a reassuring street presence, monitoring and deterring criminal activities in parking facilities and other public areas. They report quality-of-life concerns to appropriate agencies, complete concise daily incident reports and follow up with other agencies to resolve problems.

“This is a great free service that travel agents can talk about with their clients who come to Waikiki to make them feel safer and more at ease,” said Yamane. “Clients can easily spot one of our ambassadors and stop to ask them a question or request assistance.”

At press time, WBIDA was planning to provide all of the Aloha Ambassadors with handheld PDAs to further improve their efficiency. It’s hoping to place life-size cutouts of the ambassadors at baggage claim areas in the Honolulu International Airport to remind arriving passengers that the service awaits them in Waikiki.

Formed in September 2000, the nonprofit WBIDA is made up of commercial property owners and tenants in the area. Appropriately enough, the group chose as its motto Malama Waikiki (Caring for Waikiki).

“We believe our Aloha Ambassadors will help us foster this mission,” said Yamane.


Waikiki Business Improvement District Association
2255 Kuhio Ave., Suite 760
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815