Giving back is good business

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 who are working to create lasting changes in business and society.
Editor’s Note:  These stories first appeared in the recent “Beyond the Boardroom” digital newsletter, sponsored by DIRECTV Hospitality.

Virgin Hotels, Kind Traveler partner to benefit Donda’s House

CHICAGO—If working within the creative community speaks to the soul of the Virgin Hotels brand, then acts of service is its heartbeat. Supporting nonprofits in the cities where the brand establishes its hotels is just one way they walk the talk, so to speak. Virgin Hotels also aligns itself with like-minded causes and, one in particular, Kind Traveler, is ready to disrupt how people book their stay, and encourage them to do good in the process.

Dubbed the first Give + Get hotel- booking platform, Kind Traveler is enabling users to contribute to philanthropic efforts and score exclusive discounts at participating hotels. Virgin Hotels Chicago is among a handful of properties taking the maiden voyage with the newly launched booking website that spans the East and West Coasts and the Caribbean.

Virgin Hotels strives to experiment and explore novel approaches that shake up the status quo; Kind Traveler offered up a unique proposition that dovetailed with what the brand sought to achieve and after a year of talks, the partnership was cemented.

Donations captured from users via the Kind Traveler website for stays booked at Virgin Hotels Chicago will 100% directly benefit Donda’s House, Inc., an organization cofounded by hip hop artists Kanye West and Che “Rhymefest” Smith, and educator Donnie Smith..”

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Community service at JQH is rooted in its foundation

SPRINGFIELD, MO—For John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts (JQH) and its team members, volunteering is a year-round commitment rooted in the legacy of its namesake founder, who greatly believed in supporting communities and people in need.

JQH, an independent owner and manager of hotels, is deeply involved in numerous community service projects and partnerships: Convoy of Hope, a nonprofit working to feed the world through children’s feeding initiatives, community outreach and disaster response; Project SEARCH, a program focused on training people with developmental disabilities to fill high-turnover jobs; building affordable homes through Habitat for Humanity; providing toys for children through Toys for Tots, working with veterans; and more.

Giving of time and resources is a top priority within the JQH portfolio, as is creating volunteer and charitable opportunities for their properties to participate and share in the company’s philosophy on service. Staff at the various hotels are interested and engaged at every level of these service projects from planning to goal setting to execution.

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Purpose Hotel aims to change the world while you sleep

NASHVILLE, TN—Nothing happens until a vision is established. Look around and see for yourself: The hotels that have been erected; the designs inside of a guestroom; the execution of new brands; and so much more. It all starts with a seed of an idea.

Jeremy Cowart is a dreamer and a visionary. A celebrity photographer—Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson and Reba McEntire are among his subjects—who has traveled the globe, Cowart has stayed at numerous hotels. One day, it occurred to him, “What if everything in this hotel was connected to a cause or a need?”

“I’ve been a photographer for 11 years and I’ve done a lot of humanitarian projects and worked with nonprofits. The more I worked with them, I realized it’s fulfilling and I enjoy it a lot more than some of my client work,” said Cowart. “In a hotel meeting, I had the idea for the Purpose Hotel. Looking at the way the room was designed, I thought, ‘What if the room had a story attached?’ Each room could sponsor a child and we’d put a name with a face next to the room number. Nonprofits are great causes that are already creating great products, such as linens, blankets and artwork. It’s amazing. I started dreaming…”

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Wyndham fights hunger through ‘Birdies Fore Backpacks’

GREENSBORO, NC—Wyndham Worldwide is working to make sure no child goes hungry here. Food hardship is a pervasive problem in the Piedmont Triad region of the state, with 15.9% of the population lacking food on a regular basis, according to the Food Research & Action Center.

Since its creation in 2014, the “Birdies Fore Backpacks” program was designed specifically to fight this chronic issue and, for the third year in a row, it’s the official charity of the Wyndham Championship. The event has had a decades-long history on the PGA Tour.

“The Wyndham Championship makes its charitable impact with multiple charitable organizations, but all of them help children in one way or another. Our region of North Carolina is one of the worst areas in the country when it comes to childhood food insecurity. It’s common knowledge that a hungry child can’t function properly, and that means that child can’t learn efficiently. If our children aren’t able to learn, their chances of being successful are reduced,” said Mark Brazil, tournament director, Wyndham Championship. “We wanted to help our region’s children to learn, by doing our part to help them have enough food to eat. We can’t fix this problem completely, but with support from our partners at Wyndham Worldwide, we’re helping as much as we can.”

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Rockbridge Capital Teams Up With Pelotonia to Support Cancer Research

COLUMBUS, OH—Sometimes, life is about putting one foot in front of another, even if you don’t know where you’re going. It can certainly feel that way for many people diagnosed with cancer. It’s a life-altering journey that is fraught with emotion and difficulty.

About 1,685,210 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed and 595,690 Americans are expected to die of cancer this year, which translates to about 1,630 people per day, according to an annual report by the American Cancer Society. Recognizing cancer is a worldwide issue, private equity firm Rockbridge Capital knew the stakes were high and sought to do something about it. The firm, headquartered here, mobilized en force to produce “Rock the Road” in collaboration with Pelotonia, an annual cycling fundraiser in support of cancer research and benefiting the James Cancer Hospital. Biking wasn’t the only activity on the agenda for the conference-style event, which included speakers to motivate and educate attendees from the hospitality industry.

“Our company has always made giving back to the community a pillar of what we do. From the beginning, we’ve been very active in really using the gifts, opportunities and skills we have to make a difference. And, it’s not just money,” said Rockbridge President & CEO Jim Merkel.

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