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Lodging Companies Focus On Military Mojo

Hotel companies love the military. Here’s why you should too.

Monday, July 08, 2013
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The American Independence Day holiday may be over, but celebrating freedoms is an all year affair. Maybe not so much in North Korea, but here in the United States we are all about a great celebration. Of course the lodging business is no different and hoteliers are consistently looking at the military as a key group to both lure as guests and honor as citizens.

It doesn’t have to be Memorial Day or Veterans Day to think about those that risk everything to keep our way of life intact. So we thought there was no better way to celebrate 237 years since the first ever American military action radically altered the global landscape with the reinvention of what we call democracy than sharing some insight into what some hotel companies are doing to give back.

One cool program we unearthed is at La Quinta Inns & Suites. Here, the company has made the military a priority through what they dub a “companywide holistic military initiative.” The centerpiece of this initiative is to hire those that were in the military in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan at La Quinta company owned or franchised hotels, and at the home office.

According to Julie M. Cary, EVP & Chief Marketing Officer for La Quinta, the company hired more veterans during the first quarter of 2013 than in all of 2012 and they will continue to do so. Not only does this help those folks returning home get settled in a job and get back into a stateside routine, but quite frankly La Quinta likes their pro work attitudes. La Quinta also seeks out military spouses through a targeted recruitment strategy.

“It’s the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. Hiring veterans makes great sense because they are a great, well trained and dependable workforce,” said Cary.

We love this idea too here at Hotel Interactive®. And no, we do not think it is pandering. These folks know how to take orders, think on their feet. Problem solve and respect authority. Much better than many of the 20-something hotel workforce that hesitate to make eye contact with guests.

This year La Quinta also initiated the La Quinta Returns Military Rewards, a new membership level in the La Quinta Returns loyalty program for military folks, veterans and their families. Program members immediately get upgraded Gold membership status and 20 percent to 30 percent more points with every stay, as well as 2,000 La Quinta Returns bonus points after the first stay; free room upgrades; a dedicated phone number for customer service and reservations; and more such as a 12 percent discounted rate off the best available rate.

The company has also completed training all property level employees to recognize and thank military personnel for their service. Additionally, the company is looking to favor suppliers owned by veterans and when all things are equal will select the company with that military background.

Meanwhile Red Lion Hotels used their annual brand conference this past May to pack up 200 gift boxes to send to military men and women serving overseas. The boxes were shipped to the family and friends of Red Lion Hotels associates, and to the Fairchild Air Force Base 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, whose members lost three airmen on May 3 near Kyrgyzstan.

"This is a way to support our associates by honoring their friends and family serving on behalf of our country," said Harry Sladich, EVP Sales, Marketing & Distribution for Red Lion Hotels Corporation. "It is our privilege to honor them."

Wyndham Hotel Group and members of Wyndham Rewards have donated more than 15 million points to the program, redeemable for more than 250 free room nights through the Fisher House Foundation and its Hotels for Heroes program, which provides injured military men and women with free hotel rooms while undergoing treatment.

Wyndham Rewards members, along with other lodging loyalty program participants, can donate their rewards points to the program to help supplement the cost of a hotel stay for military members and their families.

“The Fisher House Foundation is an outstanding organization and we’re excited to be able to show our continued support for the work that they do through the Hotels for Heroes program,” said Marilyn Yelle, senior director of Global Sales for Wyndham Hotel Group. “Supporting our soldiers is an important cause for our organization and this is but one way for us to say thank you to all of those who have done so much.”

Even nascent brands are getting into giving. B Hotels & Resorts recently launched the B Saluted! Program. Military personnel and employees get up to a 25 percent savings on the best available rate, as well as a complimentary upgrade when available when traveling for leisure at any B or b2 hotel. We think this will be especially beneficial for families looking to stay at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida come winter when B Hotels opens a hotel right on the resort’s property.

“These men and women serve our country every day, and now it’s our chance to B of service to them as they unwind, relax and reconnect with their family and friends,” said Ayelet Weinstein, CEO and President of B Hotels & Resorts. “We want to honor them with special offerings and personalized experiences to show our appreciation.”
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