Hospitality companies offering volunteer options for their employees and/or guests isn’t new—the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company introduced Community Footprints in 2002—but these corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs have been expanding significantly recently.
Today, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced the launch of four philanthropic specialty events—Literacy Builders, Community HeART, Eco-sino, Go Green Racing. Each is a team-building activity now available for meeting groups, making it easy for attendees to give back to the communities in which they’re visiting. Activities range from building bookshelves to painting murals to putting together solar-powered racing cars for kids. Starwood’s partners for the new programs are The Coca-Cola Company and Impact4Good.
A few days ago, Hyatt Hotels Corporation introduced Hyatt Thrive, a global CSR program for its 85,000 employees and 450 properties around the world. Hyatt Thrive includes community activities based in environmental sustainability, economic development and investment, education and personal advancement, and health and wellness that are centered on volunteerism, community grants and disaster relief.
Earlier this spring, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts celebrated its 50th anniversary with the launch of its Living Values website that supports three of its CSR programs: Supporting Sustainability, Building Communities and Advancing Cancer Research. Through these initiatives, Four Seasons employees and guests can give back in a variety of ways, from tracking sea turtles to building homes to helping feed those in need, which is what this author did in Vancouver last week.
To introduce Starwood’s new philanthropic options—which are an addition to Starwood’s On-Site Specialty Events program that launched a year ago—about 70 employees from Starwood’s headquarters in White Plains, New York, participated this morning in a Go Green Racing event to benefit the Children’s Aid Society – East Harlem Boys & Girls Club. Employee teams raced to build either solar-powered cars or ones using recycled materials, which were then raced against each other. The club received 50 car-making kits for the kids, as well as 16 completed “vehicles” made by the Starwood participants.
“This event was fun, and it was great to interact with other people I work with on a daily basis as well as with those I don’t always work with,” says Wendy Vividor, associate director of North America partnership marketing for Starwood. “And in the end, we’re donating all this equipment and educational materials to the Boys & Girls Club, so that makes it different and fun.”
Four Seasons kicked off its new CSR website with an ambitious sustainability initiative—10 Million Trees—which, as it sounds, is a commitment to plant 10 million trees around the world in an effort to raise awareness, education, conservation and preservation efforts for trees and the good they provide the planet.
Hyatt began a month-long initiative yesterday that brings together employees in various destinations, from improving the campus of a Chicago public school to landscaping a playground in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward to cleaning a Mount Namsa hiking trail near Seoul, South Korea.
Have any readers participated in hotel-organized volunteer activities? If so, we’d love to hear about your experiences.
Photos: D.M. Airoldi