NATIONAL REPORT—In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on travel, the hospitality industry banded together to launch Buy One, Give One, a “vacay layaway” program. The initiative resulted in the purchase of more than 65,000 room nights for future stays, providing immediate revenue for participating hotel partners, who then donated room nights to frontline healthcare workers as a well-deserved “thank you.”
The program, launched by MMGY Global, an integrated marketing company specializing in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry, in partnership with the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI), kicked off on April 30 and was available through July 31, 2020. It encouraged consumers to book future stays with a variety of enticing offers, from discounted stays, to gift cards, to loyalty points. In return, the more than 40 participating travel brands and properties donated room nights, gift cards and loyalty points to select charitable organizations, including the American Nurses Association and New York-Presbyterian. The organizations are in the process of distributing the equivalent of 8,000 room nights to healthcare workers for them to redeem for future leisure stays.
“During this incredibly difficult time, we were thrilled to see the positive impact made by the Buy One, Give One program as the hospitality industry continues its recovery and consumers start traveling again,” said Katie Briscoe, president of MMGY Global. “The thousands of room nights sold are making a substantial difference not only to the hotel partners eager to welcome guests, but also to the healthcare workers who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and deserve a much-needed vacation.”
The travel industry has been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, with nearly two out of three hotels at or below 50% occupancy and four out of 10 hotel workers unemployed, according to an Aug. 31 study by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. However, the “vacay layaway” results paint a promising picture that consumers are eager to travel again as restrictions continue to ease. This is further bolstered by MMGY Travel Intelligence’s Travel Safety Barometer survey, which tracks the impact of COVID-19 on the intentions of U.S. travelers. Its findings indicate that perceptions of safety in the travel industry continue to rise; interest in leisure travel reached a high in the early Oct. update, with 45% of respondents reporting that they are at least somewhat likely to take a domestic leisure trip in the next six months.
“With countless hotels closed and hospitality professionals out of work the past several months, it was crucial that we came together as an industry to forge a path towards recovery,” added Bob Gilbert, CHME, CHBA, president/ CEO of HSMAI. “We take comfort in knowing that a meaningful contribution was made to the program participants who, in turn, rewarded healthcare professionals with a much-needed break.”