We believe when our guests come to our hotels, they become a part of our community. For this reason, we have started a locally-focused campaign across our independent hotels to engage guests with our communities through the immersion of location, people, cultures, and histories. Guests visiting one of these hotels are greeted with a taste from the respective neighborhood – be it local chocolate, wine, or other local specialty. Additionally, we provide a neighborhood guide that illustrates why our community is so great, highlighting the best beaches, food, drinks, sights, sounds, and attractions so they can have an experience just like a local, on foot or via our loaner bike program.
Hersha also has an ongoing mission to bring awareness to autism, which now affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys. In 2016, Hersha partnered with Autism Speaks throughout the month of April. Through this partnership, supported by our hotels, corporate offices, and thousands of guests nationwide, we donated over $100,000 for the research and awareness of autism. Our hotels also helped raise awareness to the cause by hosting events in their communities and participating in the “Light It Up Blue” campaign by adjusting exterior and lobby lights to a bright blue color.
We are also fortunate to be in a position where we are helping members of our global communities in need. There are populations around the world where two of the top five leading causes of death are hygiene related diseases, particularly in children. Simple hand-washing can lower the risk of diarrhea by 44-47% and acute respiratory infection in children under five years old by 50%. Hersha hotels have partnered with Clean the World to help these communities in need. We work with our hotel associates to collect partially used soaps and send them to Clean the World. Clean the World sanitizes these items and distributes new bars of soap to communities in need around the world. In 2016, we donated 14,500 pounds of soap and bottled amenities to Clean the World, which translates to over 76,000 new bars of life-saving soap distributed to children and families in need. Since the beginning of our partnership with Clean the World, our hotel donations have created approximately 427,000 new bars of soap.