I was heartened to read the September (2013) issue of Condé Nast Traveler magazine. It features the “World Savers Awards” – spotlighting travel suppliers helping people and the planet in the areas of education, health, poverty relief, preservation, wildlife, sustainability and a catchall category called, “Doing It All.”
I don’t believe in coincidence – knowing that everything is divinely guided. Today I was finalizing arrangements for a group to Siem Reap, Cambodia – where we were scheduled to stay at a very nice, reasonably priced and well-located hotel. But after reading about the Soria Moria Hotel (winner “Doing It All”), I have changed the booking!
Here are some of the reasons why this hotel is a winner:
- Local employees, all of whom come from poor backgrounds, own 51% of the hotel. They make decisions and share profits.
- All department heads are locals, who offer weekly training and development in problem solving, communication and management skills
- The hotel offers trainee positions for young adults, providing fair wages, scholarships, accommodation and mentoring
- They have initiated a Higher Education Program, in which 12 students are currently enrolled in university studies
- Each week, in addition to training their own staff, they welcome local people who need work experience and training to find a hospitality job
- They offer weekly literacy classes as well as English lessons
- Annual trips are offered to the staff as a reward, team-building and hands-on learning experience about what it is like to be a tourist (since most of them cannot afford to travel)
- Employees receive accident and life insurance
- The hotel purchases goods and services from local suppliers, including food, furnishings, decor, uniforms, linens, etc.
- The hotel supports local organizations and provides assistance with their marketing, fundraising and awareness
- Gender equality is fundamental in the hotel’s organization, with females holding more than half of the managerial and supervisory positions
- Responsible environmental practices include recycling cooking oil to be used as biofuel by the local Children’s Hospital and giving food waste to local pig farmers
- The hotel has collection boxes for donations of clothes
- Young adults perform traditional dances every week
- Sponsorship of charitable events
- Sale of cards painted by rural children as well as products to support local charitable groups
- . . . and the list goes on and on . . .
Many other suppliers with whom we’ve done business over the years are winners, too! Among them:
- Taj Hotel Group (Winner: Poverty Relief)
- Micato Safaris (Winner: Education/Runner-Up: Poverty Relief and Wildlife)
- Lindblad Expeditions (Winner: Doing It All, for the cruise sector)
- Inkaterra Hotels, Peru (Finalist: Sustainability)
While my company isn’t big enough (yet) or profitable enough (yet) to be considered for such a prestigious award, it is indeed, something to aspire to and exhilarating to be part of an industry that provides so many benefits at so many levels for so many people! It is no coincidence that CTP stands for Connection – Travel – Purpose!