Meet Adam Terpening FIH, Director of Charity at Room to Reward. Adam talks to us about his role at hospitality charity Room to Reward.
Tell us about your current role at Room to Reward
I am the Charity Director of Room to Reward, a unique hospitality charity that uses unsold rooms as a means for other charities to say ‘thank you’ to their outstanding volunteers in the form of a short break. I set the charity up a few years ago with Nic Roach – our founder and Chairman of Harbour Hotels. Today, we partner with approximately 450 hotels throughout the U.K. Over 850 Hidden Heroes from 450 charities have been nominated and in excess of £410,000 worth of breaks have been donated – at virtually no cost.
Describe how Room to Reward works.
We invite hotels to donate their anticipated unsold rooms. Hoteliers know the days of the week and months of the year when they are likely to have an unsold room. Instead of letting it go to waste, we ask them to put it to fantastic use. At the same time, we invite our charity partners to nominate their Hidden Heroes – inspirational volunteers who go above and beyond and truly make a difference – for a well-earned 1-2 night break. We then bring the two together to say ‘thank you’ and give some time back to someone truly deserving.
It’s a win for hotels, who make use of what would otherwise be a wasted asset, a win for charities, who for the very first time can give a tangible ‘thank you’ to their volunteers and – most importantly, a win for the Hidden Heroes , who can enjoy some time back for themselves in recognition of everything they do for others.
What do you love most about working there?
Until I started Room to Reward I have to say I didn’t fully realise just how much people do to support their charities and communities. We constantly read and hear about people doing extraordinary things to help people in need and the impact of an R2R break on these wonderful volunteers is humbling and inspiring.
The other thing I love is the wonderful support we enjoy from our hotel partners and the hospitality industry. Once hoteliers understand the concept, they are virtually always keen to get involved and join our journey. The Room to Reward initiative is only as strong as the hotels behind it. Their support makes the whole thing possible.
How would you describe a typical day in your role?
Much of my role is based around networking. As many members will know I never miss an opportunity to talk about Room to Reward.
A typical day usually involves presenting our charity to regional hotel associations, industry bodies, hotel groups and individual properties – either face to face or over the phone – to generate more support and engagement with Room to Reward.
The other regular task is sitting with my team to read through the nominations that have come in from our charity partners. It’s always moving to read these compelling stories and a wonderful reminder of why this charity is so important.
How does it feel to know you are making such a difference?
It’s really very humbling. To see and know that you have made someone happy by recognising their impact, commitment and the difference they make is very special. We receive some wonderful messages from volunteers who are so grateful for the break and are fortunate to work in a very positive environment.
When you were growing up did you always want to work in hospitality?
Yes. I joined the industry from college and have always enjoyed working and meeting with all kinds of different people. I have been fortunate to work with many leading hotel brands including Trust House Forte, Heritage Hotels, Macdonald Hotels and Harbour Hotels and look back on my career with extreme fondness for the unique opportunities and experiences it gave me.
Which elements of your Institute of Hospitality membership do you find most valuable?
With my charity hat on, I have to say the wide range of events and networking opportunities. They are invaluable for me to spread the word about Room to Reward to leading hoteliers in our industry. The Institute are hugely supportive of Room to Reward – Peter and Robin are both ambassadors – and it’s a partnership that has really enhanced our growth as a charity.
What has been your career highlight?
Earlier this year I was humbled and somewhat blown away to be made a Fellow of the Institute. Receiving this recognition was very special. Looking back on my career, I must also say joining Harbour Hotels when they had just one property and seeing its incredible growth as a group and a brand is something I’m very proud of. And, of course, the success of Room to Reward!
What makes hospitality such a special industry to work in?
For me, it’s always been the range of opportunities and the diversity of the industry. I have seen many examples of hoteliers who started at the bottom and have worked their way up to become inspirational leaders in the industry. The hospitality industry is unique in the range of people it attracts and what it can do for you if you make the most of it.
How do you think we can attract more people to see hospitality as a long-term career choice?
Personally, I think a lot lies with the image of the industry. There are so many paths to take in hospitality. We need to emphasise the opportunities available within it and the potential to build a successful, interesting and worthwhile career. There are countless wonderful stories of people making a success of themselves in hospitality and we should share these far and wide.
Room to Reward is a unique volunteer-recognition charity created to say ‘thank you’ to the Hidden Heroes – inspirational volunteers who give up their time to make a difference to those who need it most. Find out more about the fantastic work they do here.