This month in Green Hotelier we’ve been looking at the many and varied ways that hotels can help to have a net positive impact on their immediate – and wider – communities. In our Talking Point blog Ryan Rosmarin of PlayHard GiveBack says hotels can think outside the box when it comes to making a lasting, positive impact on people and communities.
Adapting to constantly shifting consumer tastes has always been crucial to business success. Today’s consumers are increasingly relating to socially driven companies, making socially conscious branding more important than ever before. Furthermore, hotel guests are also more aware of overblown marketing than ever, making authenticity key.
Hotel guests were once impressed by “reuse a towel and save the earth” signs, but no longer. Guests now understand that less laundry also increases hotel profits due to decreased labour and water use. Today, consumers are looking for socially conscious brands that have had ‘giving back’ engrained in their DNA from day one. Barry Sternlichts’ new hotel chain, 1Hotel s  was created as a direct response to shifting consumer desires. As he says on the 1Hotels website, “We want to make an impact by reinventing the industry standard for socially responsible hospitality. We are not a brand, we are a cause,” he states.
1Hotel South Beach partners with PlayHard GiveBack , a snack company that strives to empower athletes to give back to social and environmental causes they care about. By carrying PHGB snacks at the hotel, ten percent of the price is redirected towards local professional volleyball player Jessica Mendoza and her nonprofit partner, The Surfrider Foundation. Through this partnership, 1Hotel can provide their guests with healthy snacks, and guests are able to #staywithpurpose knowing that their stay is helping support a local athlete and cause.
Of course, it is not an entirely philanthropically motivated decision for 1Hotel to work with PHGB. The partnership brings many marketing opportunities including social media exposure and increased press. It is thought provoking that in this day and age a business can still profit from giving back and doing good.
PlayHard GiveBack is just one of a range of innovative initiatives which hotels are undertaking globally to have a net positive impact on their communities. Art has historically always had a similar ability to athletics to inspire and create positive change. The Park Inn by Raddisson hotels have recently run Adding Colour To Lives . The programme provided a way for hotels to engage their communities by supporting local at-risk youth through art workshops by bringing internationally renowned artists to create murals designed by the young people to provide a vehicle for expression.
The Overton Hotel is another example of a hotel that raises money for a local non-profit with a mix of culinary and artistic talents. Executive Chef Rez'nay Skinner and his team create an annual gingerbread house during the Christmas season. Pieces of the gingerbread house are sold with all of the proceeds going towards the Texas Boys Ranch , a non-profit organisation that provides residential care, foster care, adoption and children’s shelter.
These examples show that hotels who want to do more for their communities can look beyond traditional employee volunteering days. Whilst beach clean-ups and sponsored events all have their place, it is possible to think creatively and make a more direct and meaningful contribution to the people based around a hotel’s location. Hotels can even seek to address some of the trickier social concerns in their area by selecting partners who are tackling these issues. For example the hotels that partner with the Youth Career Initiative to offer skills and education training to disadvantaged young people in their region.
PlayHard GiveBack works with socially conscious hotels to engage their local communities and provide healthy snacks for their guests. The PlayHard GiveBack team works personally with hotels to find a local athlete and nonprofit organisation that is well suited for each hotel. In carrying #PHGB artisan trail mixes or sports nutrition bars, ten percent is set aside for the athlete and nonprofit ambassador of the hotel. PHGB believes that it is important for hotels to support meaningful causes and athletes while providing healthy stays for their guests. The hotel partners help PHGB to create a culture among athletes around the importance of giving back.
Oddly enough, it is often the little things, such as a handful of trail mix, a paintbrush or a gingerbread house that have the power to transform lives. I am excited to watch hotels and hospitality continue developing into an impactful industry in response to a generation that wishes to #staywithpurpose.