In an exclusive column for HM, Outrigger Enterprises Group’s President and CEO, David Carey, looks at what’s ahead for the company in 2015.
As we look towards 2015, and reflect on past accomplishments, Outrigger Enterprises Group is preparing for another year of delivering authentic, culturally rich vacation experiences for our guests and providing meaningful employment opportunities in the seven countries where we now operate.
In 2014, Outrigger set sail to become the world’s premiere beachfront resort brand. While this may be a bullish goal, with our strong corporate values, Hawaiian heritage and recent purchases in Thailand, Fiji, Mauritius and Maldives, we have an ideal base from which we can continue to grow our portfolio, certainly over the next 12 months and over the next several years.
That said, as a member of the international business community, we are only as strong as our global economy. Thankfully, the outlook for business in the New Year is positive — especially business to and from the United States.
Outside the United States, growth is also projected from the Asian and Australia markets. China continues to have great strength in growth over the next few years as the outbound market from this country continues to expand, particularly across the Asia Pacific region and the Indian Ocean. It is also predicted to have a higher income demographic customer, which is a positive sign for the tourism industry in these markets. We also see an untapped market in South East Asia, an area that is just beginning to emerge as a player. Following last year’s opening of Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort, which has a strong travel base from India, we expect to grow awareness of our Outrigger brand to this emerging market.
As we expand our family of resorts, we rely heavily on many forms of transportation, namely aviation, to bring guests to our doors. There seems to be an up-tick in aviation supply, which is always good for the hospitality industry. This is particularly beneficial for many of our island resorts. When the aviation industry sees growth, we inevitably see growth in the hotel and retail industries and the economy as a whole where tourism is located.
MICE business continues to be a hot topic of discussion and there’s been some revival in this sector. The incentive business in the United States was negatively impacted due to more exotic resort leisure destinations; yet, we have begun to see a real growth in the incentive-type business out of North Asia and China. There are new travellers and a number of rapidly growing companies that would avail themselves of that kind of business.
While Outrigger Resorts’ main focus is on the leisure traveller, a number of our destinations have the versatility to help us tie a leisure and business meeting experience together. For example, we have just recently opened the 350-seat Similan Ballroom at our Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort in Thailand. It has opened to great success thus far in the business community and we see more opportunities for similar projects at our other properties.
Although still in the planning stages, we announced last year a redevelopment plan for the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort in Hawaii which would include the addition of 15,000 square feet of new meeting facilities to serve the currently underserved small to mid-size meetings market in Waikiki. If all goes as planned and the numbers flesh out, construction on this project could begin in the next few years.
One trend that needs to be looked after in the tourism business is the relative position of currencies in various markets. For example, in the US-based markets, the strength of the Australian dollar relative to the US Dollar has been in a positive situation over the last several years. While still relatively robust, there has been some decline in the Australian Dollar versus the US Dollar, which has affected business somewhat. There is a similar issue with the Japanese currency, where over a period of time the Yen was very strong relative to the US Dollar, which was good for outbound tourism from Japan.
As the global community continues to grow closer, we hope for peace in the New Year so visitors can continue to feel safe and secure as they travel to their destinations. It is also our hope that, as visitors make those exciting plans to visit the treasures that touring has to offer, they choose to make their home away from home at an Outrigger Resort.