NEW YORK—As the temperature drops and holidays grow near, there’s a renewed focus on the warm feelings of the season and helping others. Charity begins at home. Based here, Dream Hotel Group (DHG) wanted to help fellow New Yorkers in need this holiday season through a coat drive with New York Cares.
“New York Cares is on the front lines of that mission, bringing relief to tens of thousands of New Yorkers in need through its annual coat drive,” said Jay Stein, CEO, Dream Hotel Group. “As a company, we understand the importance of giving back to those in need, especially in the neighborhoods, communities and cities in which we live, work and play. Our hotels thrive on the support of the local community. This is our way of returning the favor.”
The hotel brand and management company began a partnership with New York Cares in 2016, and plans to keep the relationship going for years to come. Stein explained that the hotels under the Dream Hotel Group umbrella thrive on the support of the local community and this is the company’s way of returning the favor.
“To date, we’ve helped keep more than 1,000 New Yorkers warm during the harsh winter months, and our goal would be to continue this partnership for as many years as they’ll have us, increasing our impact every year,” he said. “Our goal was modest for 2016—500 coats in total—and each hotel collected roughly 15 to 70 coats. Now, they’re bringing bags and bags of coats, and encouraging their friends and family to do the same. We hope to triple last year’s numbers for 2017 with a total of 1,500 coats.”
To create awareness, hotel properties held a 24-hour booking promo on Giving Tuesday on November 28. There are coat drop-off stations in every hotel; guests can either drop off a new coat or choose to donate online by texting the message IDREAMBECAUSE to 41444. A donation of $20 gets a warm coat to a New Yorker in need.
“Our VP of communications & PR, Katie Fontana, oversees the coat drive each year. Together, with our in-house design team, she creates DHG x New York Cares-branded front desk signage, complimentary “coattail” bar cards, e-blasts and social media assets to make it as easy as possible for our hotel teams,” Stein said. “She also prepares a hotel toolkit (in print and digital formats) with countless resources and tips to help guide our hotels through the coat drive process.”
In addition, each hotel appoints a team member to lead its individual coat drive, and they’re encouraged to engage in a little friendly competition between team members to see which department can collect the most coats each week. At the end of the drive, the winning team is awarded with an over-the-top pizza party, as well as the glory of knowing they’ve won for the next 365 days.
“On the macro level, we also encourage friendly competition between hotels by sending weekly leaderboard updates with the total number of coats collected at each property, and I’ll tell you, it really works,” he said. “As an added incentive and to encourage our hotel teams to take part in the giving, Dream Hotel Group also pledged to match every employee donation made to New York Cares now through December 31. Every $20 pledge becomes $40, every coat donation becomes two—and that’s one more coat for a New Yorker in need.”
For Dream Hotel Group employees, participating in a worthy cause like this one is meaningful.
“They love it. Charitable giving improves employee engagement by boosting productivity, ethical behavior, gratitude to the company and pride in their work,” Stein said. “During the holidays especially, we think about others that are less fortunate, and our employees want to have an impact on the world around us. When our employees aren’t tending to guests, they’re busy collecting coats and raising much-needed funds for New Yorkers in need.”
To see the company working together to help those in need is rewarding for Stein, too.
“Seeing tangible results is contagious, and we encourage others in the hospitality industry to do the same,” he said. “In this business, we like to treat our guests with compassion so that they have an enjoyable experience—this also translates to the local community.”
With numerous relationships with nonprofits, charitable work is part of Dream Hotel Group’s DNA.
“As for what’s next at DHG, we’ve been discussing this a lot lately, and I think, ultimately, we’d like to launch our own volunteer program—DHG Gives—as a means to celebrate all the great work our hotel teams and corporate offices are already doing, as well as inspire and encourage others to get involved,” he said. “I would love to see that dream become a reality in the very near future.”