Although the COVID-19 news cycle has often been filled with worrisome and – at times – panic inducing information, hoteliers are doing what they do best – offering a helping hand to their communities and showing a true spirit of hospitality. Here, HT has curated some examples of how this is happening around the country. We hope it brightens your mood and day to read about how your colleagues have stepped up to the plate, swung, and hit a home run. The stadium might be empty but we are all cheering loudly at home!!
PPE, Food Donations
From food to PPE to beds to refrigeration units, hotels have been working hard to help out where they can. Many companies have donated fresh fruit, vegetables and meat to food banks in their local communities. MGM Resorts offered their supply chain and refrigerators to help local authorities transport and store COVID-19 rapid test kits, which must remain frozen to be viable. Choice Hotels partnered with Serta to help donate mattresses to hospitals and temporary medical facilities. Wynn Resorts donated hundreds of thousands of PPE items.
On March 17, Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts announced it would start donating its surplus food to help its local communities during its temporary closures.
Pechanga Resort and Casino
On March 19, Pechanga Resort and Casino announced it donated nearly $100,000 worth of food to three local charities that regularly support disadvantaged and homeless people in the region. Donations included dozens of 25-pound bags of onions, carrots and celery; pallets of fresh ripe strawberries and blackberries; thousands of pounds of cantaloupes and honeydew melons, and ten thousand dollars in milk (461 gallons) and dairy products.
On March 27, Caesars Entertainment said it has supplied more than 250,000 pounds of food, which is equivalent to approximately 208,000 meals to numerous food banks and charities. Additionally, it has provided thousands of items including gloves, masks and hand sanitizer to local hospitals, first responders and local charities.
On March 30, Wynn Resorts said it was able to donate 175 pallets of food valued at $750,000 to 15 food banks in Las Vegas and three in Boston. The Wynn Employee Foundation, a charitable giving foundation funded and managed by employees of Wynn, also donated $100,000 in funds to the Three Square food bank in Las Vegas, and $25,000 in funds to the Bread of Life food bank in Boston. It was also able to procure and donate 240,000 N95 equivalent CDC approved respirator masks, 600,000 surgical masks, 500,000 pairs of medical gloves and thousands of medical gowns to hospitals throughout Las Vegas. The company has also given thousands of protective gloves and surgical masks to local nursing homes and law enforcement facilities that are battling supply shortages related to the pandemic.
Hotel Association of NYC Foundation
On April 2, the Hotel Association of NYC Foundation announced it donated 5,000 N95 masks to Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, a gift made possible by a generous donation to the foundation.
MGM Resorts International
On April 9, MGM Resorts announced it had donated more than 555,405 pounds of food, which equates to 462,837 meals, to the communities in which it operates. It also announced that it was providing logistical support and helping the Nevada COVID-19 Task Force transport 250,000 COVID-19 rapid test kits, while also meeting vital storage needs—the tests must remain frozen to be viable—for the State of Nevada. The company donated large freezer and refrigeration units from its Mandalay Bay property to the University Medical Center (UMC) of Southern Nevada for COVID-19 rapid test storage. MGM partnered with Penske Trucks to meet the demand for freezer and refrigerated storage. These efforts will help UMC process a high volume of COVID-19 tests. It is also working closely with MGM Macau to source and ship much needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers in Nevada, including 200,000 gloves and 261,000 gowns. By leveraging its global arm in China, MGM is procuring and transporting orders of medical grade gloves and gowns for the COVID-19 Task Force to distribute to healthcare workers who are in desperate need of this equipment.
On April 15, Choice Hotels announced its partnership with Serta to help provide beds to hospitals and temporary medical facilities which are currently facing severe bed shortages nationwide. Members of the Choice Privileges loyalty program can donate their points towards beds for hospitals in need, and Choice will increase the impact by matching 100 percent of donated Choice Privileges points for a limited time. All Serta mattress donations are being facilitated through Relief Bed International, a nonprofit organization that provides beds to impoverished people and disaster victims around the world.
On April 17, IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) announced global partnerships to support food banks and other food provision charities in assisting those most in need during the COVID-19 crisis. IHG said it was extending its program for communities and charitable giving, True Hospitality for Good, by committing funding and support to be there for our local communities which includes helping to protect and enhance food bank infrastructure and services in more than 70 countries.
Relief for Hospitality Employees
Many hospitality brands have announced furloughs and layoffs of hotel staff during COVID-19, but some brands have taken the initiative to get employees jobs elsewhere, even if they’re only temporary. Some, such as Hilton and IHG announced the creation of job centers and partnerships with retailers in other industries to help staff find new, temporary jobs; others such as MGM and Vail Resorts created crisis and disaster relief funds to help employees meet financial obligations, and still others have offered to pay unemployed employees their base salary and health benefits for an extended period of time, even though they are not working.
On March 23, Hilton announced it was partnering with leading companies to connect workers from temporarily suspended hotels with hundreds of thousands of short-term jobs created by the global pandemic. Hilton Team Members, and others in the industry seeking employment, will be given direct access and in some cases expedited access to temporary jobs on the Hilton Workforce Resource Center at companies such as Albertsons, Amazon, CVS, Lidl, Sunrise Senior Living and Walgreens.
MGM Resorts International
On March 23, MGM Resorts announced the creation of a $1M crisis and disaster relief pledge into an employee emergency grant fund. The MGM Resorts Emergency Relief Fund provides employees and their immediate families with short-term relief in making payments or to meet obligations during unexpected hardships and emergencies. MGM Resorts' $1 million pledge will provide expanded coverage for the fund to assist those impacted by the coronavirus, including: full-time employees, on-call employees and those facing layoff, separation or furlough.
Pechanga Resort and Casino
On March 25, Pechanga Resort and Casino announced that team members would receive base pay through March 31 – even though its properties closed on March 16 – and the resort would continue to pay for its staff members’ health insurance through April 30.
On March 30, IHG announced the launch of the IHG® Hotel Colleague Job Center to support US-based hotel colleagues impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The IHG® Hotel Colleague Job Center website – available at IHG.com/WeSupportYou – will provide resources, advice and guidance during this difficult time. It includes job opportunities with leading companies across the US that are looking to hire highly-skilled hospitality professionals who have worked in IHG branded hotels. Companies include Amazon, Walmart, CVS, Albertsons, Dominos, Pizza Hut, Lowe’s and The Home Depot. CVS, Albertsons and The Home Depot may also offer expedited applications for IHG hotel colleagues.
On March 30, Vail Resorts' CEO Rob Katz said he would donate $1 million to create a new fund within Vail Resorts' Epic Promise Employee Foundation, which helps the company's employees respond to unpredictable setbacks, including medical events. This fund will help meet the increased need for assistance due to the impacts of COVID-19, ensuring that the Foundation has the resources to address this challenge.
On April 1, Wynn Resorts announced that the company will extend paying all salaried, hourly and part-time employees through May 15, for a total of 60 days of payroll continuance. Payroll coverage will include more than 15,000 current Wynn and Encore employees. For tipped employees, it includes the average tip compliance rate or distributed tips/tokes since the beginning of the year.
On April 14, Hyatt announced the launch of the Hyatt Care Fund, a program designed to support colleagues with the most pressing financial needs due to COVID-19, through a series of coordinated efforts around the world. Impacted Hyatt colleagues in owned, managed and franchised hotels and in Hyatt’s corporate offices around the world are eligible to apply.
The ultimate goal of the Hyatt Care Fund is to provide financial relief to as many impacted colleagues as possible. Initially, grants will be prioritized to colleagues who are currently working zero hours and not eligible for government assistance. Grants will provide compensation for needs ranging from rent payments to groceries or childcare assistance to utilities and other monthly payments.
Rosewood Hotel Group
On April 21, Rosewood Hotel Group announced the launch of Rosewood Raise, a comprehensive relief initiative developed in support of the Group’s associates who have been impacted by the COVID-19. The fund will support associates whose jobs were amongst the first and most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, prioritizing those facing financial difficulties due to health-related needs. Upon the containment of the current crisis, the relief fund will continue to support the Group’s associates against future adversities and hardships. In its first two weeks since formation, the fund has received initial pledges of close to USD $2 million from Rosewood Hotel Group’s corporate executives and associates, including salary contributions and a commitment from the company to match all employees cash contributions to the fund.
On April 24, Caesars Entertainment announced that an assistance fund has been established for purposes of supporting team members at the Company's properties across the U.S. who suffer unanticipated hardships, including during the closure of Caesars properties as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The employee assistance fund, called "Caesars Cares," will be composed of contributions during the property closures in the form of donations from Caesars board of directors and Caesars executives.
Essential Workers, Students, Military Members Receive Aid
Hospitality brands are not just about taking care of their own. Multiple brands have announced ways they’re offering their now empty rooms to help those who need it most during this time: essential workers. Many are offering steep discounts or even free rooms to medical staff, law enforcement, truckers, and others who are essential to either treating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 or to ensuring the basic aspects of the economy continue to function during this time (think the grocery supply chain).
College students also found themselves in need when campuses suddenly closed and students were “evicted” but were unable to travel home due to travel restrictions. Red Roof has come to the aid of such ones, providing a discounted rate to students – many of whom might be from another country – until they are able to get back home.
On March 19, Carnival Corp. announced that select cruise ships will be made available to communities for use as temporary hospitals to help address the escalating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare systems around the world. Carnival Corporation and its brands called on governments and health authorities to consider using cruise ships as temporary healthcare facilities to treat non-COVID-19 patients, freeing up additional space and expanding capacity in land-based hospitals to treat cases of COVID-19. As part of the offer, interested parties will be asked to cover only the essential costs of the ship's operations while in port.
On March 24, Red Roof announced it would help out college students who were suddenly displaced as a result of campuses closing due to CDC protocols in response to COVID-19. Many students are in limbo and not able to return home due to travel restrictions and personal and professional obligations. With many hotels close to college campuses, Red Roof has launched the Student Support Program to help students who can't get home. The Support Program provides students with a 30% discount, per room, for stays at participating locations across the country including Red Roof Inn and Red Roof PLUS+ properties. Students looking for long term accommodation, seven days or more, will receive a $25 Amazon gift card to help purchase essential items.
On March 24, the American Hotel Lodging Association launched its Hospitality for Hope Initiative' to connect hotel properties with the health community, struggling to find housing and support as the COVID-19 public health crisis grows. Initially, 6,500 properties nationwide were identified as being located in close proximity to established healthcare facilities and were at the ready to assist government efforts and support the health community and the nation’s first responders who may be in need of temporary housing during this crucial time. By April 6, more than 15,000 hotels had signed up to be a part of this initiative.
OYO Hotels & Homes
On March 24, OYO Hotels & Homes opened the doors to its hotels and offered free stays to doctors, nurses and other medical first responders who are helping in the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19). Medical first responders will receive free accommodations at any OYO Hotel in the United States so they can sleep, shower or just get off their feet and recharge.
On April 6, Hilton and American Express announced that the companies, in partnership with Hilton’s ownership community, will donate up to 1 million hotel room nights across the United States to frontline medical professionals leading the fight against COVID-19. Rooms are available without charge to doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics and other frontline medical staff who need a place to sleep, recharge or isolate from their families through the end of May. Hilton is initially working with 10 associations who collectively represent more than 1 million healthcare workers to provide access to the program, designed to support individuals who would otherwise have to spend their own money on accommodations.
On April 9, #FirstRespondersFirst announced a partnership with Marriott International to support frontline healthcare workers with essential protective equipment, accommodations, child care, food, mental health support and other essential resources. Marriott and #FirstRespondersFirst will provide healthcare workers in New York City with accommodations starting with The Renaissance New York Times Square and The Algonquin Hotel Times Square, Autograph Collection which are both in close proximity to hospitals. Accommodations will be provided at no cost to the healthcare workers.
Best Western Hotels & Resorts
On April 13, Best Western Hotels & Resorts announced a special rate plan that extends a discount of at least 10% to essential workers at participating properties across North America. The rate plan was effective immediately and available for stay dates through June 30, 2020. Essential workers can select the rate plan when booking on bestwestern.com and will need to provide their work identification upon check in. BWHR is offering a Best Western Rewards® (BWR®) Elite status upgrade to those on the front lines. To round out the relief package for front line workers, BWHR made it easy for its loyalty members to support essential workers. BWR members who donate their rewards points to BWHR’s charitable arm, Best Western for a Better World®, or charitable partner, the Red Cross, will see their donations go directly to supporting COVID-19 relief efforts.
On April 15, RLHC announced the launch of “Keep Our Country Moving,” a program aimed to assist and relieve critical workforces and first responders whose jobs require them to leave home during the COVID-19 pandemic. RLHC has asked its approximately 1,000 hotels across North America to provide large discounts to essential workers who must leave their residences for work between April 15th and the end of June. Through this campaign, RLHC aims to relieve truck drivers, delivery personnel, construction workers, EMS teams, healthcare professionals, law enforcement agents and more. The support program will provide essential workers with a 50% discount, per room, on top of the RLHC’s pre-established low rates.
On April 17, IHG Hotels & Resorts announced its partnerhip with #FirstRespondersFirst. The brand will provide free accommodation at hotels across the United States for frontline COVID-19 first responders. First responders will have access to a dedicated VIP reservation service from IHG, which will carefully match local needs with nearby hotels. With nearly 4,000 IHG hotels across the country, these first responders can rest and recharge near the medical facilities at which they work, with accommodation costs (up to 50 million IHG Rewards Club points) covered by IHG.
On April 20, IHG Army Hotels, a portfolio of hotels which serves thousands of guests every day on forty military installations in the United States and Puerto Rico, said properties are providing safe and comfortable accommodations for servicemembers who are supporting COVID-19 relief efforts or those who have been temporarily displaced during this emergency, including military personnel whose barracks or on-post housing have been repurposed. Many IHG Army Hotels have reached agreements with Garrison leadership in order to alleviate the financial burden of service members affected by the “Remain in Place” order while awaiting transportation to their new permanent duty station. Service members who present Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders upon check-in at these hotels will receive a daily room rate equal to their basic allowance for housing.
Rosewood Hotel Group
On April 21, Rosewood Hotel Group announced the launch of Rosewood Raise, a comprehensive relief initiative developed in support of the communities in which the Group operates. Among the first properties in the portfolio to be affected by COVID-19, New World Hotels & Resorts’ hotels in Wuhan and Guiyang saluted their cities’ medical workers by providing complimentary accommodations. Many properties throughout Asia Pacific, Europe and North America are supplying necessities and meals to medical associates, first responders and area hospitals, as well as to local organizations and charities aimed at assisting families and individuals in need. Both Rosewood Bangkok (Bangkok, Thailand) and Rosewood Miramar Beach (Montecito, USA) have created Rosewood on the Move food delivery services to offer complimentary comfort meals to frontline workers in the hotels’ respective regions. Rosewood Miramar Beach, specifically, has already served over 1,500 meals to essential personnel throughout Santa Barbara, CA, ranging from police officers and fire fighters to waste handlers and grocery store attendants. Additional properties preparing meals for key workers at their local hospitals include Rosewood London (London, UK), Rosewood Hong Kong (Hong Kong, SAR), and Rosewood Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi, UAE).