Seven Ways Hotels Are Giving Back to Their Communities Throughout the Pandemic

Photo courtesy of Wyndham
Photo courtesy of Wyndham

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic alters the travel landscape and impacts industry performance, many hotels are continuing to give back to their communities—from gifting essential workers with free stays to providing extra support to employees and their families to help them through these challenging times. Below are seven ways hotel brands and properties have recently given back.

Wyndham Rewards Awards 45,000 Essential Workers with a Free Night

In honor of National First Responders Day on October 28, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts surprised more than 45,000 workers on the frontlines of the pandemic with 7,500 Wyndham Rewards points—enough for a free one-night stay at thousands of hotels. Through this latest initiative under Wyndham’s ongoing #EverydayHeroes campaign, which launched in April, the points are being sent to any health care worker, police officer, teacher, truck driver, construction worker, or other essential workers who opted in.

“Throughout this pandemic, it’s our essential frontline workers who have helped keep us all safe and our Nation running,” said Geoff Ballotti, president and CEO of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. “On this National First Responders Day, we want to honor their hard work and continued sacrifice. Whether it’s with a quick overnight getaway or a week-long escape, our hope is that these points, combined with the added perks of Wyndham Rewards Gold membership, help to make their next trip not only more attainable, but more enjoyable too. They’ve earned it.”

MGM Resorts Partners With UNLV to Provide Free Tutoring 

MGM Resorts International is partnering with the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) College of Education to provide free virtual tutoring for children of active MGM Resorts employees for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. This partnership centers on both small group tutoring as well as family engagement sessions aimed at supporting MGM employees and their families.


“We are proud to partner with UNLV to provide a pivotal resource for the children of our employees during this extremely volatile school year,” said Jyoti Chopra, Chief People, Inclusion and Sustainability Officer at MGM Resorts International. “We believe in the holistic well-being of our people and their families; If the children of our employees have the academic programs and after-school support that they need to succeed academically, it alleviates stress and gives our workforce the opportunity to bring their best efforts into the workplace.”

Choice Hotels and Barclays Donate to American Red Cross 

Choice Hotels International recently announced that members of its Choice Privileges loyalty program and Barclays US Consumer Bank have provided more than $330,000 in support of the American Red Cross disaster relief efforts. Choice Privileges members have been contributing points to this cause since March and Barclays stepped in to double the impact by matching donated loyalty points. The donation has provided the resources to help fund blood drives and personal protective equipment kits to healthcare workers on the front lines and ensure that disaster-affected communities never face recovery alone.

“Our loyalty members have once again stepped up in a time of need, and we cannot thank them enough for their incredible generosity,” said Jamie Russo, vice president, loyalty programs and customer engagement, Choice Hotels. “Whether it’s donating their points to the American Red Cross, Serta Inc.’s Stay Home, Send Beds initiative, the International Franchise Association’s Franchising Gives Back program, or Operation Homefront, our more than 46 million loyalty members are committed to helping us make a difference in the community. These acts of kindness are even more impactful when fantastic partners like Barclays jump in and lend a helping hand.”

Hilton Effect Foundation Names 2020 Grantees

The Hilton Effect Foundation recently announced its 2020 Hilton Effect grantees, which include community-based organizations playing a direct role in COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts. Through these grants and donations already made by the Foundation, which serves as Hilton’s primary philanthropic arm, the Foundation has now awarded more than $1 million dollars in COVID-19 community response efforts.

“A core part of the Hilton Effect Foundation’s work is to support our communities around the world through both good times and bad,” said Kate Mikesell, president, Hilton Effect Foundation. “From the very start of the pandemic, we have been listening to community leaders about the direct and indirect challenges they are facing as a result of COVID-19. Based on their feedback, we have focused our grants on driving inclusive recovery and strengthening community resiliency.”

‘Vacay Layaway’ Program Reaches Milestone 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating effect on travel, the hospitality industry banded together to launch Buy One, Give One, a “vacay layaway” program. The initiative, launched by MMGY Global in partnership with the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI), resulted in the purchase of more than 65,000 room nights for future stays. More than 40 participating travel brands and properties donated room nights, gift cards, and loyalty points to select charitable organizations, including the American Nurses Association and New York-Presbyterian. The organizations are in the process of distributing the equivalent of 8,000 room nights to healthcare workers for them to redeem for future leisure stays.

“With countless hotels closed and hospitality professionals out of work the past several months, it was crucial that we came together as an industry to forge a path towards recovery,” said Bob Gilbert, CHME, CHBA, president and CEO of HSMAI. “We take comfort in knowing that a meaningful contribution was made to the program participants who, in turn, rewarded healthcare professionals with a much-needed break.”

AC Hotels Repurpose Essentials for People in Need

AC Hotels by Marriott San Jose San Clara and AC Hotels by Marriott Sunnyvale Cupertino recently enlisted the help of local travel and hospitality professionals for help with its “Linens With Love” campaign, an initiative to donate gently used linens and towels to help those impacted by the recent California wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to donating hundreds of pounds of linens to several local shelters, many of the sheets and towels will be used to construct tote bags to hold essential toiletries for women and children, as well as masks to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“As a member of an industry devastated by the unfortunate events of this year, I feel it’s our responsibility to help in any way that we can,” said Tina Walters, complex director of sales for AC Hotels San Jose Santa Clara and Sunnyvale Cupertino and creator of “Linens with Love”. “I’m thrilled that friends, colleagues, and partners pitched in to make this program happen. We’ve been able to reach so many in need with these linen and toiletry donations and we hope to continue to grow the program and enlist more local hotels, as well as volunteers.”

Hyatt Place and Hyatt House Chicago Medical/University District to Recognize Healthcare Heroes 

Hyatt Place and Hyatt House Chicago Medical/University District collected nominations of front line workers throughout the month of October via Facebook for the change to win an “over-the-top” stay at the new dual-brand property. Friends, family, and fellow colleagues were invited to submit a nomination for anyone who deserves to be pampered for their tireless efforts. The winner will be gifted a complimentary two-night stay, a gift basket in their room, a one-hour massage certificate, and a custom shirt and complimentary private consultation from upscale menswear brand Q Clothier.

“We look forward to reading all the submissions that come through this nomination campaign,” said General Manager Nilesh Pandey. “These are the heroes that have put our lives ahead of their own during this pandemic, and this is the least we can do to express our sincere appreciation.”


Subscribe to Lodging Daily News for more.


Previous articleThe Key to Effective Infection Prevention in Hospitality
Next articleCYBER HITEC: Exploring Virtual and Hybrid Event Models