There is much talk about social responsibility within organizations and between individuals, and the vacation ownership industry is no exception. Resort developers and managers are realizing that social responsibility not only fits with their mission statements, but it also makes good business sense.
Grand Pacific Resorts has developed and now manages resorts in California, Canada, and Hawaii, serving more than 70,000 owner-families each year. Grand Pacific Resorts takes its social responsibility very seriously. Grand Pacific Resorts is always in search of new ways to aid, sustain, and protect the communities around its resorts and beyond. The company’s projects are broad-reaching, from local green initiatives to educating and empowering children around the world.
“Social responsibility is not only the right thing to do, it is vital for success,” states Chief Operating Officer, Nigel Lobo. “We credit our longevity, stability, and growth to our passionate service culture dedicated to associate development, owner and guest satisfaction, and giving back to the communities we operate in.”
Owner and Guest Engagement
Everyone likes to feel that they are socially responsible, and owners and guests are no exception. Owners and guests want to be a part of an organization that is socially conscious and actively involved in projects that support social responsibility.
Recruiting and Retaining Employees
A working environment that supports social responsibility is important in the recruitment and retainment of employees. Millennials in particular are identified by a strong philanthropic and social motivation.
Companies such as Grand Pacific Resorts have made social responsibility an integral part of their business model. It’s one of the keys to winning over consumers, but also to attracting skilled and loyal employees who take an active role in company projects. Grand Pacific Resorts’ BE EPIC Values statement supports a strong service culture and defines who they are. Balance, Empowerment, Enthusiasm, Passion, Integrity, and Consistency all play a part in their commitment to social responsibility.
Four years ago, Grand Pacific Resorts formed a “Going Green” committee composed of representatives from each of their resorts. They asked them to create, champion, and document comprehensive new operational strategies in support of sustainability. The goals were to improve the bottom line, reduce the environmental impact, and satisfy owner and guest expectations for environmentally-conscious hospitality practices.
As a result of the initiative and the programs it created, 11 million pounds of materials were recycled, and through a program asking guests to “Make a Green Choice,” the laundry department cleaned 15,000 less resort linens with a savings of $7,000 in housekeeping labor. Guests who chose not to have housekeeping services for the day received a $5 voucher to be used towards their resort fee or gift shop purchase.
Grand Pacific Resorts’ numerous properties on beaches along the coastline helped in the ongoing effort to reduce the 30 million plastic bottles that end up on our beaches and in the ocean. All resorts installed a water purifying system which is available to all owners and guests. They are able to use the water in pitchers or purchase resort reusable water bottles. Bimonthly delivery of bottled water ended and the properties are lowering their carbon footprints.
Many Grand Pacific Resorts have won top RCI Green Awards for their environmental efforts. Grand Pacific Palisades Resort & Hotel received the Platinum RCI Green Award, the top honor for best demonstrating “the key role the hospitality industry can play in protecting and having a positive impact on our environment.” The resort won the award because of its substantial environmental efforts—weekly beach clean-ups, promoting the use of public transportation to both guests and employees, use of environmentally-friendly supplies, recycling 200 tons of material in one year, and much more.
Carlsbad Seapointe Resort was the recipient of the Gold RCI Award for going above and beyond in sustainability efforts in day-to-day operations. In addition to their environmental efforts, employees keep on top of environmental issues and best practices by attending sustainability trade shows and maintaining memberships with organizations that work to protect the environment such as the California Surfrider Association and the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce.
Hanalei Bay Resort took home a Silver RCI Award for its unique coconut reuse program which repurposes coconut husks that would otherwise be disposed of. The husks are used to plant and protect its onsite orchid blooms. The husks are placed over the orchid root to safeguard the plant until it grows strong enough to adhere to nearby trees and flourish. Additional native vegetation placed throughout resort grounds support its water reduction practices. Commented RCI President, Gordon Gurnik, “The commitment of the recipients of this award to make sustainability a priority is a great example of how our industry continues to do its part to build a cleaner, enduring and more efficient environment of our next generation of travelers.”
Partners in Sustainability
Grand Pacific Resorts has recently formed a partnership with REV, a Bay Area company that integrates the best of sustainability with behavior change to accelerate positive business impact. The agreement calls for Grand Pacific to participate in six monthly workshops with seven other companies with the objective of sharing best practices and innovation in the sustainability arena. REV also conducts monthly consultations with each participating company.
“The time has come for us to raise the bar on our sustainability initiatives in a synergistic manner,” says Nigel Lobo, COO of GPR. “This opportunity provides us a blueprint to seek out and implement best practices with an eye on the future. Working with REV allows us this opportunity to learn from amazing thought leaders in sustainability.”Philanthropy
Philanthropy is a big part of social responsibility. One of the organizations that Grand Pacific Resorts has chosen to support is “Send Me On Vacation,” a non-profit that gives women with breast cancer a once-in-a-lifetime trip with their loved ones. For some women the trips provide a chance to rejuvenate after months of battling the illness. For others it may be the last chance they have to travel with their families. It was an easy choice for Grand Pacific Resorts, which is dedicated to creating memorable resort vacations for more than 70,000 owner-families every year.
Grand Pacific Resorts used #GivingTuesday, the annual tradition for businesses and individuals, to raise money for Send Me On Vacation. The company ran a promotion via its ResorTime vacation booking site and dedicated a share of proceeds from the event to Send Me On Vacation. The promotion offered a $25 credit to each person who booked a vacation condominium rental on the company’s ResorTime site on Giving Tuesday, and matched that with another $25 going to Send Me On Vacation.
According to Renee Wagner, Director of Marketing, “The promotion received an overwhelming response. We even doubled our goal and will be sending two survivors on vacation!”
Grand Pacific Resorts uses ResorTime for other philanthropic efforts. Four times per year ResorTime shares inspirational stories submitted by guests and owners about the causes that matter to them. The community then votes on the cause that is most inspiring and that cause receives a check for $2,500 from ResorTime. The program was inspired by a guest who used her vacation to serve an impoverished community in Haiti. “It instantly inspired us to make this about the community of people we serve, not about us as an organization. We decided to create a platform where our owners and guests could nominate an organization and the community would vote to decide which cause we would support”, explained, Vice President of Marketing Lisa Wanzenried.
Grand Pacific Resorts also supports Christel House, an organization that builds and operates learning centers in India, Mexico, South Africa, Venezuela and inner city Indianapolis. Christel House was started by timeshare pioneer Christel DeHaan. Grand Pacific Resorts provides ongoing funding to Christel House through such efforts as an annual golf tournament, mentoring college students, donating a week to the Christel House Vacation Auction each year, and most recently, a donation of two weeks to the Christel House live auction at the GNEX conference.
Social Responsibility is Everyone’s Responsibility
Washington Post writer Daniel Epstein says of corporate social responsibility “We can’t just be a stakeholder society; we must also be a shareholder society.” Grand Pacific Resorts supports this philosophy in all aspects of its business practices, from marketing programs that support initiatives that benefit society, to owner services that promote owner engagement in social and environmental issues, to employee recruitment and motivation through involvement in issues that are important to them. Each and every day brings a new opportunity to serve.