How hoteliers can reward charity volunteers

>>How hoteliers can reward charity volunteers

By anticipating an unsold room every now and then, hoteliers can say ‘thank you’ to some extraordinary charity volunteers, writes Peter Ducker FIH

This summer I was delighted to become an ambassador of Room to Reward, cementing the Institute’s support of this unique hospitality charity. Room to Reward invites hotels to donate anticipated unsold rooms to the scheme. In turn, registered UK charities nominate their exceptional staff and volunteers for a short break in recognition of their dedication and impact.

To date, over 300 ‘Hidden Heroes’ from more than 175 charities have been recognised through Room to Reward. There are more than 200 hotel partners who have donated in excess of £135,000 worth of hotel stays, but the charity needs more hotels to get on board. Room to Reward works with many registered charities, including Mencap, Macmillan Caring, National Autistic Society, Hospice UK and our own benevolent charity Hospitality Action.

This summer the Room to Reward scheme rewarded Denise Haugh, a Hospitality Action volunteer, with a stay at the Balmer Lawn Hotel in the New Forest. Denise, now 81 years of age, has spent more than 40 years working in the hospitality industry and is now an invaluable help to Hospitality Action (HA).

Mark Lewis, chief executive of HA, explains: “She visits grant applicants who need support with their application, hosts lunches and teas for our Golden Friends (retired industry members who are often isolated or lonely) and is a volunteer visitor. On top of this, she writes 2,000 birthday cards and Christmas cards to our Golden Friends, which sadly is sometimes the only one they receive. She also helps with the posting of almost 1,500 of the Golden Friend’s newsletter every two months. She really is our hero and has made such a huge impact on so many people’s lives over the years. We really couldn’t do without her. She’s amazing.”

Commenting on her stay at the Balmer Lawn Hotel, Denise says: “When I was a teenager I was horse mad and spend every weekend and most of my school holidays at Billy Walsh’s stable on Ham Common. Many times in a horse box I visited the New Forest where Lord Cowdray’s team were playing Ham and I vowed to myself that one day I would be a guest at the Balmer Lawn. I am now almost 82. Thank you for making it possible.”

With a relatively small gesture, a huge impact can be felt, as Denise Haugh’s story attests. It is relatively easy for hoteliers to create philanthropic value out of an unsold hotel bedroom. One of the first things I learned at college was that an unsold hotel room can never be sold again and it explains why all conscientious hoteliers should join and support Room to Reward. As hotel operators, we are in a privileged position in that we are able to help reward those who truly deserve it.

I am delighted to put my full support behind Room to Reward and join the many prominent hoteliers who are ambassadors of the charity, including Robin Sheppard FIH, Simon Numphud FIH, Adam Rowledge FIH and David Guile FIH.

Room to Reward is actively looking for both independent properties and hotel groups. I would urge all members of the Institute of Hospitality and readers of HQ Magazine, who are in a position to do so, to support this charity now.

For all hotel partners, there are no contractual obligations or long-term commitments. The charity provides a clear and defined process in order that charity and hotel partners can be assured that only the most deserving ‘hidden heroes’ are rewarded.

To find out more about the Room to Reward charity, visit: www.roomtoreward.org

This article was first published in HQ, the Institute of Hospitality’s quarterly management magazine. Written for mid-level and senior managers in all sectors of the industry. HQ is a benefit provided to members of the Institute as part of their annual membership subscription. They have free access to electronic articles from each issue of the magazine including past issues.