Outrigger eyes off further expansion

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Outrigger’s Australian comeback has seen the Hawaii-based hotel group expand its portfolio to four properties in Queensland.

Most recently, in January it opened the Outrigger Surfers Paradise marking the group’s return to the Gold Coast, the site of its first Australian venture back in 1998.

Vice president operations and projects Asia Pacific, Michael Cowan, explained that Outrigger had started moving Back towards Australia and South East Asia around five years ago.

‚ÄúWe realised that we had reached the capacity of the brand in Hawaii,” he told Travel Today. ‚ÄúAsia Pacific will be driving a lot of what goes on from now on.”

Fortunately, there was still a good awareness of the brand in Australia. ‚ÄúThat has really worked in our favour,” Cowan said.

Wholesalers had welcomed its return, he claimed, while recognition of the brand in Australia had helped to drive business to Outrigger’s South East Asian properties with Australia among the top markets for its properties in Phuket, Bali and Fiji.

While the majority of guests in its Australian properties are domestic travellers, with the strong dollar making them a difficult sell for international markets, Cowan anticipated that China would be huge over the coming years.

Meanwhile, the brand is looking to grow its Australian presence and is investigating opportunities in gateway cities, specifically Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. ‚ÄúWe won‚Äôt head towards the regional areas,” he confirmed.

The city locations would see the firm develop its MICE offering, but Cowan stressed that leisure would always come first, with the brand looking to create a resort experience in city centres.

But the challenges facing the firm were the high cost of building in Australia. While new builds resulted in ‚Äúbetter product,” rebranding proved a more affordable option.

This year, Outrigger will open two new Vietnamese properties with other options in Japan and one in China’s Hainan Island.

It currently has 15 properties in the pipeline in the region, and targeting 20 to 25 in the region within 15 years, with 20% of those in Australia.

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

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