New social responsiblity programs at luxe hotel firms

Oberoi has partnered with SOS Children's Villages in Inida.
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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

Giving back to local communities, or corporate social responsibility, has long been a focus of the travel industry. But as such programs become more commonplace in the corporate world as a whole, what used to ad-hoc, property-based programs are becoming the norm, even being built in the overall missions of the big travel companies.

One of the newer programs, from Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, is the hospitality industry's take on the buy-one-donate-one type programs we have seen from companies ranging from Malawi's Pizza, which donates one meal for every meal sold to a child in Malawi, to Tom's Shoes and Warby Parker eyeglasses, which donate one pair of shoes or glasses, respectively, for each sold.

Oberoi has tied its giveback program to the launch of Oberoi Exotic Vacations, which offers adventure and experiential-based itineraries in India, the Middle East and the Himalayas, such as special tours of temples or the Taj Mahal, cooking classes and safaris to see the tigers in Ranthambhore.

Under the program, Oberoi has partnered with SOS Children's Villages, which provides family-based care for parentless, homeless or abandoned children. For all Exotic Vacations bookings of eight nights or more, Oberoi will sponsor the care of one child for a year. The program, the company said, is in addition to the company's already ongoing support of SOS Children's Villages,  which provides care for more than 250 children.

The program is one example of the move by companies to increase their social programs.

Corporate social programs is a trend that is unlikely to go away. According to a recent study by  Cone Communications and Echo Research, more than 90% of shoppers worldwide said they would likely switch to brands that support a good cause, given similar price and quality. And 76% will refuse to buy from a company if they learn it supports an issue contrary to their own beliefs.

The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, for example, last week said that in 2017 it donated more than 3,500 pounds of food that otherwise would have gone to waste to the area's largest shelter, Springs Rescue Mission. It called on other members of the Pikes Peak Lodging Association to join the endeavor.

"When you're thinking about the waste that occurs, that goes to the landfill, as well as the waste that occurs that could benefit somebody, the good that this does is invaluable to the community and the environment," Broadmoor President and CEO Jack Damioli said. He added that food waste in landfills generate methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Damioli said he is hoping the city's other hotels, resorts and restaurants follow suit. "We are happy to take the lead in this, but really this is bigger than The Broadmoor."

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