Hawaii Hospitality January/February 2015 - (Page 24)

'LET'S DO THIS!' WIL-Hawaii expands women's horizons through national networking and HLTA membership BY BRETT ALEXANDER-ESTES As organizer Julie Arigo approaches the podium to speak at the Women in Lodging and Tourism-Hawaii kickoff, her jaw drops. Beyond the stage, an audience of nearly 150 women are talking, laughing and eagerly signing up as new WIL-Hawaii members. "We were anticipating maybe 50," says Karen Nakaoka, director of member relations and operations for the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association (HLTA) who helped organize the August event. After the lights dimmed and the last guest had departed, WIL-Hawaii's first sign-ups nearly equaled the New York City chapter's membership. Arigo, WIL-Hawaii chair and Waikiki Parc Hotel general manager, says she felt that if women could directly support visitor industry initiatives, it would be a win-win. Although WIL-Hawaii includes a few men among its 250-plus membership, Arigo spearheaded the group with women in mind. "Women have an innate way of bonding," she says, adding that female collaboration increases a venture's odds of success. Arigo's initial interest in WIL was sparked by a friend. "Karen first planted (WIL) in my head," she says of a conversation with Nakaoka in 2013 when Arigo was HLTA chairperson. Later, at the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) 2013 Fall Conference, Arigo sat in on a meeting of WIL's national executive council. After learning there were 21 chapters nationwide, and "seeing the WIL women and all the enthusiasm and excitement," Arigo says she asked 24 Hawaii Hospitality January/February 2015 ■ Karen Fowler Julie Arigo herself: "Why doesn't Hawaii have a chapter?" The next question was how a local chapter of WIL would benefit women working in Hawaii's visitor industry. Would WIL provide Hawaii women with nationwide networking and mentorship opportunities? Check. How about critical resources and training? Check. For example, WIL offers its members Certified Hotel Administrator online training as well as other AHLA courses, often at substantial discount. Arigo was sold. "You really want to do it?" Nakaoka asked when Arigo returned from New York. "Let's do this!" Arigo replied. "Karen was enthusiastic about it but she was also very smart," Arigo says. "She wanted to prepare adequately and ensure HLTA was able to provide the Barbara Campbell resources to sustain WIL." Arigo turned to the women she had met in New York, and WIL immediately proved its value. Arigo listened in on WIL conference calls, sought out WIL services and resources and prepared for a Hawaii start. She obtained a WIL PowerPoint presentation that had been made in Ohio, and tweaked it for presentation to the HLTA. "We utilized what other state chapters had successfully used as tools to launch their groups," she says. Next on the agenda was the choice of top performers for WIL-Hawaii's administrative team. "Who do we want to have as members of the council?" Arigo and Nakaoka asked themselves, and realized "we had already forged relationships with HLTA women that we know would be a good fit." My career has become my passion; I haven't worked a day since finding this passion. -Naomi Grace

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Hawaii Hospitality January/February 2015

Women & Their Power
HLTA’s Culinary Gala
HRA for the Holidays
Gun Tourism
When Visitors Get Sick
Luxury Limo Services
Na Poe Paahana Awards
Tips from Engineers
Women in Lodging
Aloha Ambassadors
News Briefs
Talk Story
At the Table

Hawaii Hospitality January/February 2015