Charitable works are at the heart of hospitality

Every day, hospitality companies share their successes by giving back to the communities in which they reside through large-scale volunteer projects, charitable outreach efforts, fundraisers and more. Not only is community service a good thing to do, the benefits for businesses are meaningful, from boosting employee morale to building stronger relationships with community stakeholders. Here are the stories of five companies working to create lasting changes in both business and society.

Editor’s Note:  These stories first appeared in the recent “Beyond the Boardroom” digital newsletter, sponsored by Rockbridge.

Marriott gives back to New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS—Twelve years after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, The Big Easy is still, in many ways, in a state of rebuilding and regenerating.

Marriott International Inc., which held its biannual Select Brands General Manager Conference here at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and has numerous hotels in the city, saw an opportunity to give back to New Orleans with the support of local community organizers, New Orleans Habitat for Humanity and New Orleans Saints all-pro quarterback Drew Brees.

CEO Arne Sorenson kicked off the day of giving back as part of Marriott’s “Spirit to Serve” community volunteer initiative as employees and senior executives from the brand converged at a local Habitat for Humanity project in the Central City neighborhood to pound nails into a framework that would eventually become the walls of a home for a single mother and two sons. There was also a ceremonial wall-raising and signing of the studs led by Sorenson and Brees as a symbolic gesture to celebrate the value of homeownership and future opportunities for the recipient family.

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Dining at Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach for charity

CLEARWATER BEACH, FL—Jayden Callahan is striving to make a difference with every bite. As the director of F&B at Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach, he launched “You Dine, We     Donate,” a program at the on-site Asian/American fusion restaurant, Ocean Hai, to support local charities. All net proceeds from food and non-alcoholic beverage purchases by diners seated at Table 31 are given to a different local charity selected each month.

“The program is the perfect way for Ocean Hai and our guests to make a positive impact and give back to the local community. This is a program that comes from our hearts. We created this initiative because it’s something we truly believe in,” said Callahan. “‘You Dine, We Donate’ is specific to the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach, but we would love to eventually make it a Wyndham Grand brand standard. The inspiration came from a former general manager I worked with in a previous role. The program became a huge success there, and I loved the idea so much, I’ve implemented it at four other hotel properties where I’ve worked since then.”

Callahan shared that there aren’t specific requirements to drive fundraising, making the effort all the more important and accessible to everyone. In addition, there was a strong effort to collaborate and organize staff to make it a success.

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Loews Hotels in Orlando help feed children everywhere

ORLANDO, FL—Everyone deserves to have a good meal—certainly, that’s what Loews Hotels thinks. And the company has put that thought into action, partnering with Florida-based charity, Feeding Children Everywhere (FCE), to help the hungry.

What first began in 2013—when Loews workers packed FCE’s famous Red Lentil Jambalaya meals at a Loews hotel—has grown, with the company recently packing its millionth meal at a national sales meeting at the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando. At this particular event, 34,272 meals were packed, exceeding the 32,500 goal for a total of 1,023,668 meals. Loews Foundation also presented FCE with a $10,000 grant for its efforts in feeding children and adults around the globe.

“The partnership with them has really grown over the years,” said Jennifer Hodges, area director of public relations for Loews Hotels at Universal Studios. “We took the program to all of our on-site hotels and it has grown ever since.”

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Teneo Hospitality combines networking and charity

ORLANDO, FL—Normally, you go to a meeting and you either come back empty-handed or with a goody bag of branded items that you may or may not need. Teneo Hospitality has turned the tables and made its networking events and meetings interactive, while helping those in need. These events are hosted in different cities across the U.S.—from the East Coast to the West Coast.

At these events, meeting planners are given backpacks or tote bags to stuff with items for the less fortunate. For example, at the launch of its 2017 program at Second Floor in Manhattan, backpacks were stuffed with personal hygiene items to donate to the New York Rescue Mission. “It is quite the undertaking because Teneo personally goes out and purchase all the items. These are items that homeless people will need—like socks and hygiene items, things you will find in a drug store,” expressed President Mike Schugt of Teneo Hospitality Group.

“On this particularly early March night, it was cold. The Rescue Mission was expecting a high demand, so they were very appreciative,” he explained.

Each bag contained 58 practical items, including dental floss, hand cream, feminine products, toothbrushes, umbrellas, blankets, Band-Aids, razors, snacks and socks designed especially for the homeless. More than 160 bags were filled that evening and delivered to the New York Rescue Mission.

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Prince Organization’s Sunil Tolani supports a fair chance

LOS ANGELES—Do you believe in second chances? Hotelier and social entrepreneur Sunil Tolani says it’s a vital part of his upbringing and everyone’s responsibility.

“We need to find the moral imperative as a society to secure places in our workforce for those who just need a chance to prove themselves, and it must be part of our collective response to keep our streets safe and our communities healthy,” said Tolani, CEO, Prince Organization, a hospitality, real estate development and lifestyle company based here. “My father says that a person becomes a better person through other people, and through the Fair Chance Pledge, we’re putting them back on the track of life, love, health and prosperity by helping them find jobs. I want to take a chance.”

Tolani signed the Fair Chance Pledge, an initiative launched by the previous White House administration, urging members of the private sector to improve local communities by removing barriers for those with a criminal record—essentially, offering them a second chance.

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