On April 6, Hilton and American Express announced a partnership to donate up to one million hotel rooms nights to medical professionals fighting COVID-19 across the United States. Starting the week of April 13, the program will provide free rooms to doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, and other medical staff looking for places to stay or relax.
Hilton wants to be part of the COVID-19 solution, according to Craig Dezern, vice president of global brand communications for Hilton. He says, “When we were talking to a longstanding partner of ours—American Express—they too wanted to do something meaningful during this time. The idea of donating one million room nights seems to address the need that we’re hearing about every day.”
Dezern mentions stories of doctors and nurses sleeping in cars, basements, or garages trying to distance from and protect their families, saying “we thought this was something we could do.”
There are 10 associations that Hilton works with who are initially representing more than one million healthcare workers who would otherwise have to spend their own money on room accommodations. Those organizations include the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, American College of Emergency Physicians, American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association, Emergency Medicine Residents’ Association, Emergency Nurses Association, National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, Society of Critical Care Medicine, Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants, and Society of Hospital Medicine.
Dezern adds that the owner community has reacted positively to the initiative. “They helped us think through this program, and Hilton hotels are such an important part of their communities. They see the need and they want to be part of the solution as well.”
He continues, “What I love about it quite honestly, especially as a communicator, is it’s a very straightforward program. We have all these medical folks on the frontlines who need a place for different reasons to stay, and we have hotels that can do it. The owner community is a big part of this and they’re providing these rooms at or below costs, and some of them are asking if they can go beyond what we’re doing. It’s great to see so many people trying to, at a difficult time for the industry, ensure that they’re doing the right thing.”
Although “any hotel in our system that is operating is welcome to participate in this program,” as Dezern says, the program is not opening hotels that have already closed due to COVID-19. Brands that are participating including Hampton by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, DoubleTree by Hilton, and more. Team members have been trained to protect the health and safety of all guests and employees. Hotel rooms and common areas are continually sanitized. Rooms may be limited in high-demand areas.
“Hilton and American Express realized there was an opportunity here to do something for these frontline medical workers who really are the heroes of the moment,” Dezern adds. “We both want to be part of the solution, and we joined with our owner community who really are part of their own communities as well. We think we’ve come up with something that can be a meaningful approach to helping solve some of the issues today.”