Starting a new position is always a whirlwind, but throw in relocation, learning a new market, and moving from casino marketing to resort marketing and I’d think you were crazy if you stayed somewhat sane.
On Moving to Maui
The first few months of relocation were rough. I’ve relocated for hospitality positions a few times now, however this was the first time moving with my husband and two dogs. The logistics were rough in getting our dogs to Maui — a 5 month quarantine process, flying them over, and getting them acclimated to the weather took some time, but it was nice to finally have them out here and settle in. Housing was difficult as well — I had a negative experience with a local landlord that was subletting an apartment through AirBNB. It wasn’t his to sublet, so when the original owner found out, things went downhill fast. As a businessman who is respected in the community, he handled (didn’t handle) the situation horribly. AirBNB handled the situation amazingly and assisted with getting me in a new place and removing the person I rented from from their site, but I learned a lot about the rental market here through that situation. We ended up buying a condo and now Maui feels like home. For those moving to Maui with animals, it’s tough here. Rentals aren’t dog friendly for the most part, so unless you’re in a position to buy, finding a home for your family might be your toughest obstacle.
On Maui Community
One of the most important things for me to do once I got here was to become involved in the community, and Maui has made that easy. There’s a great local group, Maui SMUG (social media users group) that has welcomed me to their meetings and gives me a chance to talk tech and strategy with some great minds. Through Grand Wailea, I’ve also had the chance to be involved and attend some amazing events, including the Maui Film Festival, Ka’anapali Fresh, TedxMaui, and the Maui Visitors Bureau Annual Marketing Meeting where I heard some insightful presentations from speakers like Jay Talwar of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.
On Resort Marketing
I’ve always been on both sides of casino and resort marketing having worked in Vegas, so this new position is the first time in my career that I’m at a non-casino and focusing purely on resort and destination marketing. I’ve been able to learn new international markets, with Maui’s target audiences being in the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, China, and throughout certain European countries. I’m more aware of how flights and airline prices affect destination markets and how to always be prepared for anything to occur — a direct flight dropped from an airline, seasonal flights, increase in costs, airline mergers, and even airline bankruptcies. I work more closely than I ever have with our Revenue Management team, and previously where I focused mostly on a casino database and marketing to them, I am now responsible for bringing in the resort’s share of the leisure market (with the other share being divided by our group sales). I’m still focused on growing a database of loyal guests, including our membership like loyalty program, and utilizing social media to help guests visualize themselves on Maui and at Grand Wailea, however now my online advertising focus has grown quite a bit and I’m always looking for new strategies to test to drive bookings.
Resort marketing moves at a much quicker pace than casino marketing, as well. Whereas in casino marketing there were a number of laws and regulations you had to abide by, resort marketing is based on guests booking rooms. I’ve learned that as much as you try to plan ahead, trying to look at driving bookings 3 – 6 months out, little things can happen unexpectedly that have you shuffling to fill rooms for the next few upcoming weeks. A hurricane scare saw a large amount of same-week cancellations within my first few months on Maui (the hurricane didn’t end up hitting Maui), a spike in summer airline prices saw the resorts on Maui adjusting rates down on their end, and a last minute group cancellation had us scrambling to fill leisure rooms two weeks out. Things happen fast and there’s no time to procrastinate when goals are based on the upcoming week.
In my six months on Maui, I’ve relaunched a website, welcomed a blogger FAM trip, held a guest Instagram takeover (with a few more discussions with local photographers to continue the series), helped to host a few large events on property, launched an iPad app for the sales team, and created the processes for a new position.
It’s been a crazy few months, but I chose to work in the hospitality industry for my passion for travel and the non-stop energy and wouldn’t have it any other way.