The Outrigger Way: 20 Years of Hallmark Hospitality
Release Number: 65/14
WAIKIKI, HONOLULU, HAWAII – This year, Outrigger Enterprises Group celebrates an exciting milestone – it is the 20th anniversary of the company’s Ke ‘Ano Wa‘a process, or “The Outrigger Way.” Developed in 1993 working with Hawaiian scholar and historian, Dr. George Kanahele, the Ke ‘Ano Wa‘a process was designed to advance the company’s corporate culture and fundamental business strategies. The values-based process intricately connected three core elements of the hospitality industry: the employees, the guests and the destination. It also deepened Outrigger’s understanding and appreciation of the local host culture – a distinct hospitality style that is recognized across the globe. Now in its 20th year, the process has been introduced in seven countries and languages, with processes in China and Vietnam coming soon, touching more than 20,000 current and former employees worldwide, and millions of guests.
“Since Ke ‘Ano Wa‘a was first developed with guidance from Dr. George Kanahele, the process has taught us the importance of relationships that exist between a host, a guest and a place visited,” said David Carey, president and chief executive officer of Outrigger Enterprises Group. “As a company, the process has helped us to define our key points of differentiation, and has allowed us to become the hotel brand for guests seeking a unique, culturally authentic vacation experience.”
In the Hawaiian language, Ke ‘Ano Wa‘a is translated as The Outrigger Way. Today, this business model has enabled the family-owned and -operated Outrigger to grow from a local Waikiki business into one of the most successful, global hospitality management companies in the world.
“The Outrigger Way serves as the guiding light for every decision we make. In addition to setting a high standard for the way we interact with guests and employees, it also serves as the foundation for all of our management decisions, including marketing, communications and brand management,” said Sean Dee, chief marketing officer for Outrigger Enterprises Group.
Outrigger has found measureable success through this strong and long-held cultural focus. In a recent guest satisfaction survey by Market Metrix, Outrigger Resorts was awarded the highest score – 97.8 – in “can do attitude” – receiving notably higher marks above major global brands including Hyatt, Westin, Marriott, Aston, Hilton and Sheraton.
“Ke ‘Ano Wa‘a is a profound cultural approach to the art of hosting guests that takes the visitor experience to another level, for both the host and the hosted,” said Peter Apo, Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee.
“David Carey’s substantial commitment in adopting Hawaiian visionary Dr. Kanahele’s training model is now the stuff of Hawaii tourism legend.”
The first core element of the process was designed to create a corporate culture of caring. Each employee that walks through Outrigger’s doors is provided with introductory training either from or guided by Outrigger’s Manager of Cultural Experiences Kaipo Ho. This training helps employees understand how Outrigger’s values relate to the staff, visitors and international properties.
Transforming lives though authentic, localized experiences is the second element of Outrigger’s strategy for success. For example, in Fiji, Outrigger on the Lagoon offers meimei nanny service. “Meimei” means “to take care of” in the Fijian language. Here children are engaged in fun learning experiences customized to their age and introduced to many aspects of the Fijian culture such as arts and crafts, traditional fishing methods and more.
The final element in Outrigger’s Ke ‘Ano Wa‘a process is the seamless integration of host culture into guest experiences. This includes promoting local experiences through partnerships, preserving the local culture and protecting natural resources. For example, in Thailand, Outrigger Laguna Phuket Resort staff members join forces with the local villagers to regularly clean the roadside verges. The activity aims to encourage all villagers and travelers to safeguard the environment and to maintain a mutual understanding and relationship with and within the local community. In Hawaii, Outrigger Reef on the Beach’s Kani Ka Pila Grille offers free, live nightly entertainment by some of Hawaii’s most renowned performers, giving guests a front-row seat to the authentic Hawaiian music for which Hawaii is known. The music and cultural activities at the resort are guided by “Aunty Luana” Maitland. Her official title is events and activities manager, but “Ambassador of Aloha” is a more fitting title as she touches each and every guest with aloha and affection sharing her love of the islands and her Hawaiian heritage and culture.
“From the warm welcoming greeting curbside, to the cheery registration aloha, to the inviting island room decor, Outrigger employees go out of their way to treat guests like family,” said frequent Outrigger guests Randy and Vicki Bahr from Chicago, Ill. “When staff members take such good care of each and every visitor, they feel cherished and valued. Outrigger employees make sure your stay is perfect, the Outrigger Way. Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach is our second home…we spend five to six months there annually and have made 31 trips to Hawaii since 1996.”
For more information about Outrigger Enterprises Group and its unique corporate culture, visit www.outrigger.com/about-us.
FACT SHEET: THE OUTRIGGER WAY
THE OUTRIGGER DIFFERENCE – KE ‘ANO WA‘A
Twenty years ago – with guidance from famed Hawaiian scholar Dr. George Kanahele— Outrigger embarked on a voyage to advance its corporate culture and fundamental business strategies with a company-wide process known as Ke ‘Ano Wa‘a. In the Hawaiian language, Ke ‘Ano Wa‘a is translated as The Outrigger Way.
This values-based process intricately and actively connects three core elements of the hospitality industry: the employees, the guests and the destination. It also deepens Outrigger’s understanding of and appreciation for the local host culture.
The Outrigger Way has been a guiding star as the company set sail on its global expansion across the Pacific and Indian oceans. This values system, rooted in Hawaiian culture, is deeply embedded into every Outrigger property, yet customized to embrace the local traditions and cultures of that place. In addition to providing Outrigger with a hallmark hospitality style, this unique business model has helped transform a ‘mom and pop’ operation in Waikiki into one of the world’s most successful, global hospitality management companies.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 1947 – Roy and Estelle Kelley opened up their first hotel in Waikiki; 67 years of family operations
- 1993 – Dr. George Kanahele helped Outrigger establish Ke ‘Ano Wa‘a; its 20th anniversary is in 2014
- 9 countries and 9 different languages – The Outrigger Way has been introduced across the globe: Ke ‘Ano Wa‘a in Hawaii, Inafa‘maolek in Guam, Bula Spirit in Fiji, Mateship in Australia, Tri Hita Karana in Bali, Mittrapab in Thailand, and Ensame in Mautirius, and will soon be celebrated in China and Vietnam. 15,000 – A rough estimate of the number of current and former employees that have been trained in The Outrigger Way over the past 20 years
- 1,000,000+ – The number of guests that have been touched by The Outrigger Way across the Outrigger global portfolio
- 97.8 – Outrigger’s Market Metrix score for “can do attitude” – the highest of all major global brands
- 45 properties with approximately 11,000 hotel rooms are under Outrigger’s global portfolio
“The concept for The Outrigger Way is universal. We use it as a guide and let our employees interpret it in their own way. Over the last 20 years, it’s safe to say that The Outrigger Way has reached more than 20,000 current and former employees through our training program, as well as millions of guests who have come through Outrigger’s doors.” – Kaipo Ho, Manager of Cultural Experiences, Outrigger Enterprises Group
CARING FOR EACH OTHER – A global family of employees
In 1947, Outrigger founders Roy and Estelle Kelley took a big chance when they built the 33-room Islander Hotel on Seaside Avenue in Waikiki. Selling clean rooms at just $7.50 a night and targeting middle-class American travelers was a novel concept for Hawaii. Guided by more than 67 years of family leadership, Outrigger remains a locally owned operation that treats its more than 4500 employees like family.
- Incorporation of The Outrigger Way makes the company an employer of choice, providing opportunities for employees to be their best – personally and professionally.
- Outrigger has a manager of cultural experiences, Mr. Kaipo Ho, who provides an introduction to The Outrigger Way at each of the international destinations that Outrigger enters. This helps employees understand how those values relate to them and the property where they work, including the history and culture of the place. It’s hard to put an exact number on how many current and former employees have been touched by the program worldwide, but it’s safe to say that over the past 20 years that figure is more than 20,000.
- Ex. From Outrigger on the Lagoon, Fiji comes a story of Bula Spirit at its finest: Una Murray was the resort’s public relations manager of 32 years. Until the age of 70, she could be found at the resort’s Vakavanua Lounge seven nights a week, and knew “everyone” on the island, from the attorney-general to Fiji’s international rugby team who would drop in for a drink with her at the bar. During her illness, the resort sent their own nurse to her hospital room, their maintenance team to fix up her room, and delivered her meals and medications. When she passed, the resort coordinated her beachside burial and in Una’s honor, guests can now order an Una Boogie Boogie cocktail at the resort’s bar.
TESTIMONIAL: “Ke ‘Ano Wa‘a is a profound cultural approach to the art of hosting visitors that takes the guest experience to another level. It maximizes the visitor encounter for both the host and the hosted. Outrigger CEO David Carey’s substantial commitment in adopting Hawaiian visionary George Kanahele’s training model is now the stuff of Hawaii tourism legend.” Peter Apo – Trustee, Office of Hawaiian Affairs
CARING FOR GUESTS – Transforming lives through unique, local experiences
In a recent guest satisfaction survey by Market Metrix, Outrigger Resorts was given the highest score – 97.8 – in “can do attitude” – rising above major global brands including Hyatt, Westin, Marriott, Aston, Hilton and Sheraton. Outrigger employees understand as local experts and hosts, they have a remarkable opportunity to transform people’s lives while perpetuating local culture.
- Ex: In Fiji – Outrigger on the Lagoon offers meimei nanny service. “Meimei” translates as “to take care of” in the Fijian language, and children are engaged in fun learning experiences and introduced to many aspects of the Fijian culture including arts and crafts, traditional fishing methods and more.
- Ex: In Thailand – Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort has a traditional Thai touch, from the resort architecture to an on-site baby elephant that comes out twice a day to engage with guests and Thai cooking class inside guest villas.
- Ex: In Hawaii – Outrigger Reef on the Beach shares Hawaii’s rich culture through music nightly at Kani Ka Pila Grille, where guests and locals alike can listen to some of the island’s most renowned musicians singing traditional and contemporary Hawaiian favorites. The hotel also hosts a regular series of ‘O Ke Kai’ events, where the public can learn about traditional Hawaiian canoe building and ocean voyaging. All of this is guided by the resort’s Ambassador of Aloha, “Aunty Luana” Maitland.
TESTIMONIAL: “We believe The Outrigger Way is all about the fantastic employees and their special Hawaiian hospitality. From the warm welcoming greeting curbside to the cheery registration aloha to the inviting island room decor, Outrigger employees go out of their way to treat guests like ‘ohana (family). When staff members take such good care of each and every visitor, they feel cherished and valued.
Outrigger employees make sure your stay is perfect, the Outrigger Way. Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach is our second home… our home away from home. We spend five to six months there annually and have made 31 trips to Hawaii since 1996.” – Randy and Vicki Bahr, Chicago USA
CARING FOR THE PLACE – honor and integration of the host culture
Outrigger is committed to strengthening the destinations and sustaining the local communities where its resorts are located. This includes promoting local experiences through partnerships, perpetuating the local culture and preserving the natural resources. The company provides in-kind and philanthropic support for a wide range of cultural organizations, non-profit groups and community initiatives.
- Ex: In Thailand – Outrigger Laguna Phuket Resort and Villas participates in a Cleaning Day with the community. The hotel staff and the villagers combine their strengths and energy to clean the village roadsides. The activity aims to encourage all villagers, visitors and tourists to safeguard the environment and to maintain a mutual understanding and relationship with and within the local community.
- Ex: In Guam – Outrigger Guam Resort participates in a bi-annual beach cleanup, showing respect for the place by caring for the environment. Every March it celebrates “Chamorro Month,” featuring local artwork and daily cultural activities including crafts and food samplings for guests to enjoy.
- Ex: In Mauritius – Outrigger just signed on as the presenting sponsor for the XTERRA off-road triathlon. This is the latest in a long history of partnering with the world-renowned sporting group to promote healthy living and adventure in places that Outrigger operates.
- Ex. Worldwide – Outrigger is a proud sponsor of the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Worldwide Voyage, in which the iconic sailing canoe Hōkūle‘a, along with sister ship Hikianalia, plan to travel to more than 20 countries and 60 ports. Outrigger is offering in-kind and financial support for the voyage – providing accommodations, educational opportunities and activities for the community to participate in at various Outrigger properties.
“As one of my personal mentors, Kumu John Keola Lake, eloquently said, ‘We learn from our past to stabilize our present, so we can plan for our future.’ These words have deep meaning for Outrigger. The first 20 years of Ke ‘Ano Wa‘a have laid a firm foundation for the next 20 years and for much richer Outrigger experiences for our hosts, guests, and places where we do business.” – Kaipo Ho, Manager of Cultural Experiences, Outrigger Enterprises Group