Boots on the Ground

Ever since the 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, the story has been at the forefront of most people’s news feeds, sliced and diced at every possible angle.

Many hospitality companies have contributed to the relief efforts: Kimpton Hotels, for example, quickly mobilized to offer their loyalty program members a bonus credit toward a free night in 2010 if they would donate $50 or more to a supported organization. Meanwhile, Yum! Brands pledged $500,000 from its World Hunger Relief program to provide food to earthquake victims.

And yet, as warm and fuzzy as these stories feel, in this FastCompany article, the gentle suggestion of Timberland CEO Jeff Swartz makes a lot more sense: instead of donating cash, donate whatever unique resources your company has in spades. For Timberland, it’s logistical capabilities. (After all, as this controversial Reuters blog article points out, the problem in Haiti right now is not the lack of aid, it’s the ability to deploy it.)

So, what unique resources can hospitality companies share in times of crisis, such as in Haiti? Let me ask two more rhetorical questions. Is crafting a positive guest experience drastically different from providing comfort to disaster victims? Does cooking a warm meal for a paying guest require different skills from cooking warm meals for non-paying guests? I would love to hear more uplifting stories about how hospitality companies are sharing their unique resource: hospitality.

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