Westin Inspires the Hospitality Industry's First Textile Upcycling Program

By Sarah Lipton Senior Global Brand Director, Westin Hotels & Resorts | May 27, 2018

As sustainability becomes a larger focus in the hospitality industry, Westin wanted to find a way give back to the community in a way that further instilled our commitment to the environment and the well-being of our guests. We found a clear intersection between community health and the environment and began to brainstorm ways that we could leverage our expertise in wellness, while developing a model of sustainability that could be adapted industry-wide. Thus Westin, a brand focused on well-being, concentrates on sustainability and improving the well-being of the communities that surround our hotels and resorts as natural extensions of our guest offering and brand promise. This is also something of upmost importance to our guests with a growing number of travelers seek meaningful ways to give back while on the road. 75% of people surveyed globally saying that giving back is an important part of their well-being, 80% of respondents intending to give back or volunteer while traveling in the next year, and 89% of respondents more likely to book a hotel with a give-back opportunity. So, a holistic approach to wellness both aligns with this growing trend and meets consumer demands. 

Sustainability & Giving Back as Fundamental Components of Wellness

Last year we introduced a global campaign called Let's Rise, taking on the distractions and unpredictability of travel and empowering people to regain control of their well-being when they need it most, while traveling. As an extension of this brand rally-cry, we launched a challenge called Project Rise through which we asked our associates for ideas for how together we can support the well-being of the communities in which they live and work through the lens on the brand's Six Pillars of Well-Being (sleep-, eat-, move-, feel-, work- and play well). More than 325 associates from around the world submitted ideas. One inspired insight encouraged the brand to find a productive way to repurpose the large amount of bed linens discarded each year due to wear and tear - a disposal process that previously did not have a centralized recycling process or recipient.

As a result, we launched Project Rise: ThreadForward, an unprecedented sustainability program that collects, processes and reweaves discarded hotel bed linens and materials, transforming them into thousands of pairs of children's pajamas to be distributed to children in need, whose circumstances can contribute to shortened and more fragmented sleep. The simple act of putting on pajamas helps them establish a healthy bedtime routine and in turn improve their quality of sleep. Project Rise: ThreadForward is our latest sustainability initiative that aims to improve children's health and create a more sustainable future for our world.

Sleep as the Foundation

Committed to helping our guests get a good night's sleep since the game-changing debut of the brand's now iconic Heavenly® Bed, we saw an opportunity to not only create an innovative industry-first upcycling program, but to also empower sleep in an entirely new way. In working with our partner the World Sleep Society, an international association whose mission is to advance sleep health worldwide, we surfaced data that showed a correlation between effective bedtime routines, better sleep patterns, and long-term wellness. The research showed that with a reliable bedtime routine - which includes putting on comfortable pajamas - children get better and longer sleep, which is shown to lead to improved cognitive functioning, behavior, and emotional well-being. Sleep continues to be the foundation of well-being; but despite this, a third of all adults and most children are sleep deprived. The simple act of putting on pajamas as part of a bedtime routine can improve a child's quality of sleep and cement long term sleeping habits. We also learned from Delivering Good that pajamas are one of the most requested items of clothing sought by various charitable organizations across the United States. Pajamas were the perfect extension of our commitment to good sleep habits, which fall within the brand's overarching commitment to help guests Sleep Well and maintain their well-being while traveling.

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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.