Meeting, Events, & Travel Planning Guide
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Shari Chang, senior vice president of sales, marketing
Aston Hotels & Resorts
“Locally, we continue to see the trend away from large resort gatherings for companies with more small to mid-level meetings the norm. Our condo resorts with many amenities available are popular choices for companies seeking to combine business with leisure, often bringing their families along. We are finding at our condo resorts, smaller business groups requesting function space to accommodate different types of events,” says Shari Chang, senior vice president of sales, marketing and revenue generation for Aston Hotels & Resorts.
With hotels and condominium resorts located on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island, Aston has recently renovated a number of its local properties to offer diverse group options for board retreats, corporate incentive meetings, employee events and other business-related gatherings. Newly renovated board and meeting rooms at the Aston Kaanapali Villas on Maui, for example, can cater to mid-size to large meetings. The Whaler Village’s penthouse unit, with a baby grand piano and high-end kitchen, offers a different ambience for smaller work-related gatherings. “It’s a unique setting for business networking and employee bonding opportunities,” says Chang.
For both private companies and government groups, the Big Island’s Aston Waimea Plantation Cottages, private seaside cottages set on a 27-acre plantation, have been a popular choice to hold employee team-building challenges, according to Chang. The secluded site can accommodate outdoor sports-oriented and cultural activities, as well as celebratory gatherings and meals in a relaxed setting.
Chang says that Hawaii is also starting to see increases in Mainland and international incentive groups coming back to the islands for meetings and events, reflecting a pent-up desire to resume destination business meeting and travel. Favorable exchange rates have been encouraging business travel and meetings from Asia and the Pacific, in particular, Australia. For the first time, companies from China and Korea, where local economies are strong, are showing some interest with requests for proposals for holding small board meetings and other corporate gatherings in the islands, according to Chang. If this trend takes hold, local companies doing business globally or considering expanding business internationally may have more opportunities on home turf to forge potential new foreign business partnerships.
“We see 2012 with companies still looking for value, but also more willing to go off-site for small to medium-size group events,” says Chang. “The economy is still fragile and recovering, but we definitely see signs of improvement in demand for meetings and events.”
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