Outrigger wants back into the Australian market

"This is a country we really want to be back in, so we are serious."

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Outrigger Hotels & Resorts has made clear its intention to re-enter the Australian market, with the hotelier’s CEO and President, Jeff Wagoner, this week telling mainstream media the company has its eyes set firmly on returning to the Gold Coast.

In Sydney yesterday [Thursday 28 March 2019] as part of Outrigger’s trade mission, held every second year, the Hawaii-based group’s Vice President, Hotel Operations – Waikiki and Guam, Mike Shaff, reiterated the comments made by Wagoner.

In Sydney, Outrigger Hospitality Group’s Sean Dee, Executive VP and Chief Marketing Officer; Monica Salter, VP Corporate Communications and Mike Shaff, VP Hotel Operations – Waikiki/Guam

Shaff told LATTE that expanding the Outrigger brand to other markets was the next phase of development for the company. And the net for growth is extensive. While Surfers Paradise has been pinpointed in Australia as a favoured location, Outrigger is also interested in New Zealand, California, Southern Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Tahiti, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, China, the Philippines and Seychelles.

Within its existing ‘Premier Beachfront Resorts’ tier of accommodation, Outrigger has nine properties in Hawaii, Fiji, Thailand, Guam, Mauritius and the Maldives. A 10th resort, Outrigger Vinh Hoi Resort and Spa, will debut in Vietnam in the future.

“We want to be the premier beach resort in the world,” Shaff said. “It goes back to the roots of Outrigger. Outrigger was an on-the-beach company. Our first property was Waikiki Beach Resort, right on Waikiki Beach, and it’s still there. We are a toes-in-the-sand company, and we want to get back there,” he told LATTE.

That strategy includes opportunities to own on the beach, near a beach or within a beach-community. “That’s our sweet spot,” he remarked.

Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort
Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort

Shaff confirmed that last year, Outrigger came up short on a bid for a new property on the Gold Coast, the very market it exited in July 2015 when it terminated management contracts with the former Outrigger Surfers Paradise and four other branded properties along the Queensland coast.

He said there aren’t any other projects in Australia that Outrigger is “working on” at the moment, but confirmed that “we’re looking actively and intently”.

“This is a country we really want to be back in, so we are serious. The whole Asia-Pacific region is really attractive.”

Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort | Presidential Villa
Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort | Presidential Villa

Shaff also said it was important to have a presence in Australia for brand loyalty.

“Australians may be taking more in-country vacations, so we want to have Outriggers here so that they can experience our brand domestically, and then when they decide to travel to Hawaii we are a natural choice. They’ve already had their classic Outrigger experience and understand how we operate from a service level and culturally, so that’s invaluable to us.”

The push for expansion follows the very recent name change from Outrigger Enterprises Group to Outrigger Hospitality Group.

“The former name didn’t really tell the world exactly what Outrigger was. We are a hospitality company and putting the word in there leaves nothing to the imagination,” Shaff said.

The Outrigger roadshow visited Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

Lead image: Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort

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