Get to Know the New Waikiki

Nearly two years ago, on a visit to Honolulu, I stopped in and had lunch with Rob Solomon, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Outrigger. We talked about the Waikiki Beach Walk construction and what it would mean to Outrigger and the city in general. Rob was also excited, however, about wha


Nearly two years ago, on a visit to Honolulu, I stopped in and had lunch with Rob Solomon, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Outrigger. We talked about the Waikiki Beach Walk construction and what it would mean to Outrigger and the city in general. Rob was also excited, however, about what he saw as the larger impact of the Beach Walk project. He expected any number of hotel renovations and upgrades as well as other major construction projects, such as the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and the widening of Waikiki Beach timed to the completion of the Beach Walk. He said I would be blown away by the unveiling of the “new Waikiki” by late 2006 or 2007.

Flash forward to today, and Rob’s crystal ball is looking pretty accurate indeed. As you’ll see in this issue’s cover story, “Waikiki’s Extreme Makeover” (page 18), at least a dozen properties have announced major changes, and that’s in addition to many other public projects.

So what do these changes really mean to agents?

According to the Oahu Visitor’s Bureau, the main message for agents is twofold. First, “the best approach is a new approach.” In other words, agents need to sell Waikiki as if it’s a brand-new destination. Next, education is key. Agents need to proactively educate themselves about the new Waikiki as soon as possible in order to best serve their clients from the get-go.

At TravelAge West, we applaud the changes taking place in Waikiki. We also hope tourism authorities and hotel owners remember what makes the city most marketable to agents, and not just pursue change for change’s sake. If, after all these projects are completed, it becomes a destination where all the resorts are geared solely to high-end clients, or timeshares, and there are more crowds with less parking and services, then the end result will be a fiasco. And that would be a shame for everyone in the industry. K.S.

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