2016 Sustainability Report

community impact

As a company with hotels across the U.S., we see ourselves as local members of each community where we do business. We believe the communities we serve are integral to our long-term success as a business. When our associates show dedication to their communities by volunteering time, raising money, or donating items they no longer use, they enhance the vibrancy and quality of the community.

hersha h. and hasu p. shah join
the united way million dollar roundtable

Community is one of Hersha’s core values and fundamental to our long tradition of social responsibility and community engagement. This tradition began with Hersha's founders, and continues today with the EarthView program. In 2016, Hersha’s hotels and corporate offices supported over 260 organizations in our local communities. Our long-standing partnership with the United Way is spearheaded by our founders, Hersha and Hasu Shah, who have become the first United Way Million Dollar Roundtable donors from the Capital Region.

hersha associates pack school
supplies & food for Food Brings Hope
at hersha’s 2016 general manager conference

We also honor our deep commitment to our communities by dedicating time and talents. In 2016, our associates donated over 4,700 hours to their communities. These contributions helped mentor future leaders, clean up parks and waterways in our communities, and provide food and clothing for those less fortunate. Hersha associates have also donated over 30,000 items of clothing, linens, books, toys, and school supplies to non-profit organizations in our local communities.

earthview water

It is becoming clearer that water is a scarce resource for many around the world. In fact, 1 in 10 people lack access to safe water. In our effort to help, EarthView launched a private label water bottle sold at our hotels that is made from 100% recycled plastic and is 100% recyclable. For each bottle purchased by a guest, we donate $1 to help bring water to those in need through a program called WaterCredit, by Water.org. One of the largest barriers to safe water and sanitation is affordable financing. WaterCredit provides small, affordable, easily repayable loans to those who need access to affordable financing and expert resources to make household water and sanitation solutions a reality. In 2016, our donation from the sale of our bottles provided clean water to over 1,300 people for 21 years. By helping people obtain access to financing, we can support more people in ways that have a lasting and meaningful impact.

hersha’s associates take on
the shatterproof challenge
at the alis conference in los angeles

Through EarthView, our philanthropic efforts include a corporate philanthropy strategy managed by a formal Giving Committee. Through this Committee, we have the opportunity to partner and support high-impact, non-profit organizations in their efforts to raise critical operational and program funds. This Committee is the strategic agent behind partnerships with the National Constitution Center, Cornell University, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, along with many other local organizations. The Committee convenes monthly to identify and review opportunities where we can have the most impact in terms of community stewardship, education, the arts, and hospitality. Over the past year, Hersha’s Giving Committee has supported over 65 charitable organizations, generating impact locally, nationally, and globally.

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.

Hersha’s team at Philadelphia’s Organization of World Heritage Cities Celebration in September 2016

Hersha provided support to the City of Philadelphia to become the nation’s first World Heritage City. Philadelphia is now recognized as an official member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage list. Every World Heritage City must have a UNESCO site recognized for its outstanding, universal value. Other World Heritage Cities include Jerusalem, Cairo, and Paris.

Over the past year, we have expanded our support of local art in our communities. We believe the arts play a critical role in creating a thriving community, defining civic identity, and building an engaged populace. Below are some of the organizations we proudly partner with to support local art.