When we think about hotels we rarely think about charity and community service, but what many of us are unaware of is how deeply dedicated hotels are to giving back to the less fortunate. Hotels have been partnering with various organizations that dedicate their services to spreading awareness, educating and helping those in need.
Hospitality Partner Program
Clean the World Foundation is a global health organization that is committed to improving the quality of life to those in vulnerable communities around the world. Clean the World estimates that over 2.5 billion people lack access to basic sanitation, and poor sanitation is the leading cause of death for children under age 5. It is also estimated that more children die from “wash” related illnesses than from Aids and tuberculosis combined. The Hospitality Partner Program was developed by Clean the World in order to establish partnerships with hotels and other entities to provide resources and education focused on water, sanitation and hygiene. Clean the World partners with over 8,000 hotels including, Hilton, Marriot, IHG, Best Western and Hyatt to collect discarded soaps and plastic bottles that are recycled and distributed to those in need. Discarded soaps are recycled and used to create new soap bars that are distributed to disaster victims, the homeless population, refugees and other vulnerable communities in 127 countries. Clean the world has circulated 53 million bars of soap and has served over 12 million people since the program began in 2009. The organization also creates and distributes hygiene kits consisting of soaps and other hygiene products, such as shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and toothbrushes. To date over 5 million hygiene kits have been distributed worldwide.
How Can Hotels Get Involved
Hotels are required to complete a registration form in order to enroll in the Hospitality Partner Program. The organization then sends bins to collect discarded soaps and plastic bottles, once bins are halfway filled the hotels will receive UPS labels for shipping and will be provided with new bins.
Hotels Give Back
In 2016 Omni Hotels and Resorts partnered with Feeding America to create the Say Goodnight to Hunger program. Feeding America manages food banks and food pantries nationwide that provides meals to millions of Americans each year. For every reservation made at Omni Hotel and Resorts, a percentage is donated to Feeding America as a part of its Say Goodnight to Hunger initiative. To date, 42 communities in the surrounding areas of the Omni hotels have benefited from the Say Goodnight to Hunger Program.
More than two decades ago, Caesars Entertainment launched its Hero’s Volunteer Program to encourage staff to volunteer their time to communities in need. Caesars partners with organizations such as Clean the World, American Cancer Society and Meals on Wheels to focus on education, the environment and health and wellness just to list a few. In 2013 alone, Hero volunteers dedicated over 164,000 hours towards community service.
Donating Reward Points
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of hotel reward points have gone unused. Many hotels allow members to donate reward points to a number of charities. Choice Hotels allow members to donate their unused points to charities like the Boys & Girls Club and The Polaris Project, an organization that is dedicated to the preventions of human trafficking. Hilton members can donate their reward points through the Hilton Honors Giving Back Program. For every 10,000 points donated, Hilton will contribute $25 to any one of its 30 charities chosen by members. Points can be donated to charities such as American Cancer Society, The American Red Cross, The Make a Wish Foundation and countless others. Similarly, Marriott Bonvoy and Radisson hotels also allow members to donate unused reward points to a number of charitable causes that aim to improve the lives of others.
Hotels Adopt Eco-Friendly Practices
Many hotels seek to significantly reduce their environmental impact by reducing waste, conserving energy and reducing their water usage.
1. Many hotels have created waste reduction programs where they reduce the use of disposable items. Such as substituting reusable glass cups in place of disposable cups. Hotels have also established recycling programs where they partner with organizations to donate recyclables.
2. Some Hotels are reducing paper and plastic usage by offering digital check in and digital keys for room entry. Customers are able to check in and access their rooms by using their mobile phones and are not required to use a key card.
3. Donating left over foods is another way that hotels are helping those in need while reducing waste.
4. Hotels are also reducing water usage by installing low-flow faucets and showerheads, and also by decreasing the frequency by which linens are changed.
5. Many hotels are investing in LED lighting, which studies have shown to be 80 percent more energy efficient than standard bulbs. Hotels have also chosen to add room sensors that can detect light levels and increase or decrease brightness accordingly.
6. Thermostats with sensors are also being used to regulate heating or air conditioning and will automatically turn off once guests have left their rooms.
Travelers Want More Eco-Friendly Options
A 2017 Cone Communications Corporate Social Responsibility study found that 87 percent of Americans would think positively of companies that advocated for issues they cared about. 76 percent would also refuse to purchase goods or services from companies that supported issues contrary to their beliefs. And 92 percent would trust companies who supported social and environmental issues. Many travelers are seeking eco-friendly accommodations and according to a 2019 Booking.com Sustainable Travel Report, 73 percent of global travelers intended to stay at least once, at environmentally friendly accommodations. The number of travelers increased from 62 percent in 2016 to 68 percent in 2018 and has steadily risen. The study also found that 70 percent of global travelers were likely to book environmentally friendly stays, whether they were actively searching for them or not. And 62 percent felt better about staying at hotels and other accommodations knowing that they were environmentally friendly.
TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders Program
Travelers are becoming increasingly attracted to hotels that have adopted environmentally friendly practices. As a response to the growing number of travelers who are environmentally conscious, online travel company TripAdvisor created the GreenLeaders Program that showcases hotels and other accommodations that are committed to being environmentally friendly. GreenLeaders highlight hotels that are dedicated to recycling, to the use of local and organic foods and to providing electric car charging stations. GreenLeaders can achieve Bronze, Silver or Gold statuses depending on their environmentally friendly practices, the higher the status, the greener the practices. Hotels that have adopted eco-friendly practices will display a GreenLeaders badge on the TripAdvisor’s listing page, travelers can click on the badge to get information on the specific eco-friendly practices that hotels have adopted.
More Than Just Vacation
During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, many hotels became support centers and provided housing for medical professionals and patients recovering from the Covid-19 virus. Cities across the U.S. also began leasing hotel rooms to accommodate those experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. Hotels have had a long-standing tradition of giving back to those in need, and many hotels throughout the years have partnered with numerous charitable organizations in order to improve the lives of others.