Forget about brownie points, bottom lines or BEE ratings – corporate social responsibility for any business should be about giving back and doing good – an unwavering contribution to uplifting people and the planet – that’s the bottom line! Hotels which adopt programs and strategies that contribute to communities, conserve environments, reduce social problems and educate, ultimately boost customer loyalty, improve brand image and achieve corporate sustainability, which adds value to stakeholders and the communities that service them.
CSR in hospitality, in particular, provides an opportunity to make a difference in so many ways, not only with staff, but with guests, the environment and the community. CEO of BON Hotels, Guy Stehlik says that CSR is very important to the company and represents part of its ethos of Good people. Good thinking. Good feeling. He goes on to say that to make these programs work, senior management has to get the buy-in of the staff at all levels and ensure that they are involved in implementing them if there is to be continued support and success.
Each of the properties in the BON Hotels stable is dedicated to uplifting the communities around itself and regularly contributes to charitable organisations by way of providing meals, the basics or hands-on assistance. Vouchers are popular as giveaways or prizes at fundraisers, sporting events and award ceremonies. Craig Swart, GM at BON Hotel Riviera on Vaal, says, “Every department within the hotel has been allocated one charity and is responsible for raising funds or assisting where they can, so the effort is combined and rewarding for all.”
There is the usual recognition for outstanding service in the form of certificates and gifts, balloons and cake on birthdays, training and re-freshers to keep up standards and morale, and vouchers for good work and initiative.
Hotels (and guests) are also being sustainably-savvy by conserving water, sourcing local produce, using biodegradable supplies for conferencing, curbing paper use and keeping demands on electricity to a minimum – guests are encouraged to re-use towels, switch off lights and use water sparingly.
Over and above the traditional rewards for employees, hotels are coming up with novel ways to give back; for instance, the staff and their families get to experience the hotel as guests as a reward for good work. There are crash-courses in various departments within the hotel for the community to gain experience in the industry and achieve gainful employment. BON Hotel Shelley Point recently launched the Casual Pool initiative about which the General Manager, Petrus Munro, is very proud, “We are able to educate and develop people from the local community, providing on-site experience and knowledge, thereby creating a pool of skilled individuals from which the hotel can source employees to fill various positions that become available.”
Companies that are seen to be good corporate citizens are appealing to new customers and staff – they raise morale and have lower operating expenses as a result, and it’s all for the greater good!