The Importance of Employee Participation Through Effective Community Programs

By Nancy Mendelson Senior Vice President, Branding & Communication, Loews Hotels | June 05, 2011

Log on to just about any hotel company's website and you'll find that they recognize the importance of social responsibility to their organization. While the language may differ from brand to brand, their commitment to the communities where they operate does not. When you give it some thought, it makes perfect sense: Hospitality and community service are a natural and powerful partnership.

Recently I read on www.management-issues.com, that "employees who are satisfied with their organization's commitment to social and environmental responsibility are likely to be more positive, more engaged and more productive than those working for less responsible employers." In the same article, Douglas Klein, President of Sirota Survey Intelligence supports this point by saying that "businesses that recognize the importance of social responsibility often have employees who tend to be more satisfied with their jobs, adopt similar values, and become more committed to achieving success within the industry." At Loews Hotels, we certainly find this to be true.

Because our Team Members are the heart and soul of Loews Hotels, we look for and value caring individuals who possess a palpable generosity of spirit. This is a quality that can't be taught….but it can be nurtured, and we find that it makes all the difference in serving both our guests and our communities.

"We spend about a half hour discussing our Good Neighbor program in Orientation - it's incorporated into the section where we talk about our Brand Principles," says Lauren Constable, Manager of Education and Training for Loews Hotels. "This always stuck out to me when teaching, because the principles are beautiful words and ideals but when you can actually show them in action… it's a powerful thing. When we talk about being a good neighbor in the communities in which we reside and then show images from local events that we have organized (Loews Denver - images of team members giving out food to the homeless; the Don CeSar - images of team members participating in their monthly Ronald McDonald House dinners, Loews Atlanta - team members tutoring children) it's just an amazing connection. You can see it in the team members' eyes - they feel the power of the Brand Principle and even on the first day you see the pride that they have working for a company with values like ours."

"Our Good Neighbor program intends that it is our team members, as well as our hotel company, that will be seen as involved, committed, and caring members of the community, "says Alan Momeyer, VP of Human Resources for Loews Corp. "Every hotel has a Good Neighbor Council that is composed of hourly Team Members who make the final decisions on how they will devote their efforts and financial resources to addressing local social issues such as improving public education, or assisting the least abled members of the community. We never think of this as 'giving back', but rather as 'rising up' to meet our responsibilities as Good Neighbors."

Tom Roditus, Area Managing Director of Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando, illustrates this point beautifully discussing the Loews Orlando properties Good Neighbor Adopt A School Programs: "Besides supporting the schools efforts through Donors Choose.org, we support them in many other ways throughout the year, "says Roditus. "One of the larger events is an annual Read-a-thon. In this event our team members and mangers cycle throughout the day through the grade schools reading program. Each person reads for 1 hour to a different class. This event begins at 9am on Friday and does not end until 10am on Saturday. We can provide up to 100 readers in the day. It culminates with a breakfast the next morning which is brought to the school by us and served by our team member volunteers. This type of effort would not be possible if not for the countless hours of volunteers among all team members here at Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando. The school in this instance is Richmond Heights Elementary school and it was a perennial 'F" graded school during our first few years of interaction with them. Last year they were able to achieve a 'B" as their annual school grade. Their success was celebrated by the school and our team members as well, who were proud to not only be able to help, but to actually have a positive impact on the kids' lives."

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.