Travel Weekly Hawaii bureau chief Doug Oakley spoke with
Marriott Lodging International president Ed Fuller, who responded
to questions about Marriott's plans in the Hawaii market.
HONOLULU -- By the end of January, two Marriott hotels in
Waikiki -- the Renaissance Ilikai Waikiki and the Waikiki Beach
Marriott Resort -- will have spent a combined $115 million in
construction and rehabilitation.
Marriott has seven hotels on Oahu, Kauai and Maui, and plans to
add more on Maui, Oahu and the Big Island.
Despite the rough times in the market, Marriott is pushing ahead
with expansion plans for the state.
Travel Weekly:How do Marriott's seven hotels
in Hawaii fit into your company's overall revenue situation in
terms of geographic markets?
Fuller: This market brings in about $150
million a year in hotel revenue, that is second only to
You have to keep in mind that we have 15 different brands, and
you have to remember we're talking about the leisure market.
TW:How has Marriott been doing in Hawaii
since Sept. 11?
Fuller: On the outer islands [Maui and Kauai],
our occupancies have been in the 80% range. We usually run in the
high 80s, so we are off a bit.
In Waikiki, we're running about 30% at the Ilikai and 50% at the
Waikiki Beach Marriott.
TW:Waikiki properties are hurting more
because they rely heavily on Japanese travelers, who are staying
away at the moment. What is your strategy to get business back up
at your Waikiki properties?
Fuller: Our strategy is to try to shift to a
more even mix [of Japanese and U.S. customers].
Before we took over those hotels, they were owned by Japanese
firms and had a very heavy Japanese customer base.
We have experience repositioning a lot of hotels. At the JW
Marriott [on Oahu], we had a dominant Japanese mix when we took
over. Since then, we have grown the North American market, and our
occupancy is rising there.
TW:So you plan to bring in more U.S.
visitors to your hotels that previously were primarily marketed to
Japanese. How do you plan to do that?
Fuller: Lots of advertising. We want more FITs
from the West Coast to fill in where our packages leave holes.
We want to add wholesalers. We have added 11 West Coast
wholesalers to the two Waikiki properties -- wholesalers that
already sell our outer-island hotels.
We've got everyone on sales calls. We're even on TV game shows
offering stays at our hotels as prizes. And we are tapping our
Marriott Rewards program base. We'll have had 130,000 people come
to Hawaii on that program in 2001.
TW:How do you feel about
Fuller: We will discount, but only where
appropriate. When we reintroduce the two Waikiki properties at the
end of January, we will discount.
TW:What's your overall market strategy in
Fuller: We want two Courtyard brand hotels in
Hawaii. One already has been announced for Maui, and we'd like one
on Oahu. We want a Renaissance on every island, a Marriott on every
island and Courtyards where appropriate.
TW:How has the current situation -- war
and the prospect of terrorism -- affected your customers?
Fuller: Right now, more than ever, people need
leisure. They need a break. The only real issue is they have to fly
to get here.