After some deliberation about whether to visit Maui after the wildfires, Signature Travel Network decided to go ahead with its annual Owners’ Meeting as scheduled.
The meeting will take place at the Grand Wailea Maui, A Waldorf Astoria Resort from Sept. 6 to 9.
The meeting’s location was announced a year ago, but the consortium had to decide this week whether to move forward with the gathering of around 425.
“As tough of a situation as this is, we feel good about the decision,” Signature CEO Alex Sharpe said. “We feel good about how we got there and the people we can help while we’re in Maui.”
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During a webinar for attendees, Sharpe said the decision to move forward was only made after consulting with local stakeholders, from on-the-ground supplier partners to Signature members with agency locations on Maui.
The overarching message Signature received was that the group should stay out of West Maui as the area recovers but it is wanted and needed in the Wailea area.
“The agreement we encountered at the local level is that our event is making a positive impact on the local community,” Sharpe said. “Someone put it to me in these terms. They said, ‘If not Signature, then who?’ Who would we rather be there than someone who has been committed to this destination for seven decades, that, frankly, has the power and the influence to get people to come back in a thoughtful and meaningful way?”
Sharpe said Signature will spend more than $2 million at the meeting. That will go toward the Grand Wailea and two other hotels hosting events, the Fairmont Kea Lani and the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, and the thousands of locals employed by the resorts.
Several adjustments have been made to the conference.
First, in order to prioritize essential items arriving in Maui, Signature will not ship anything to the island. Attendees were encouraged to bring things like notebooks and pens, which are usually provided at meetings.
The meeting will be confined to the Wailea area only, away from any recovery efforts.
Travel Elevates, Signature’s nonprofit arm, will broaden its fundraising event surrounding the meeting. In addition to an online silent auction of more than 20 travel experiences, Travel Elevates will also collect donations. All funds will go to three designated charities: the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund, Maui Food Bank and Maui Humane Society.
Attendees are being provided a list of Maui’s most-needed supplies to bring in checked luggage. And Saturday, Sept. 9 will be dedicated to giving back to those affected by wildfires through work at the Grand Wailea, with projects like organizing supplies or food preparation.
“This group is kind of a show-up group,” Sharpe said. “When the chips are down, when there are problems, we show up, we come together.”
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