Project Creator: The Heart of Hospitality Project was created by Cara Overland, General Manager of the La Quinta Inn & Suites Duluth. Cara has over 17 years of hospitality experience with a specialty in sustainable hotel operations. She believes that to make a community truly great there needs to be an equal balance between a healthy economy, a healthy environment and a healthy community.
Duluth Tourism Overview: According to Visit Duluth, the city’s visitor’s bureau, nearly 3.5 million tourists visit Duluth annually. Tourism is one of Duluth’s largest industries, creating 780 million dollars in direct economic impact for the city of Duluth. Of the 3.5 million annual visitors, the majority of them utilize hotels for their lodging needs. In total, Duluth is home to 4,600 hotel sleeping rooms. That’s a lot of rooms!
The Project: With so many annual visitors there is a lot of waste created by daily hotel amenities such as: shampoo, conditioner, lotion, towels, sheets, etc. Many of these amenities are very gently used (think a shampoo bottle that is ¾ full, or a towel that has a small fray.) These items cannot be placed in a room again, but throwing them away in the trash is very wasteful.
We asked these questions: · Could these items be collected and donated to local agencies that could utilize them? · Would members of our community be able to use these amenities? · Can the Heart of Hospitality Project match hotels and agencies together to make the donation process easy? · The answer is YES!
United Way Partnership: The Heart of Hospitality Project has partnered with the Head of the Lakes United Way to assess the needs of local agencies. They will work on behalf of agencies as the connector.
Visit Duluth Partnership: The Heart of Hospitality Project has partnered with Visit Duluth to connect the hospitality industry to the program. They will work on behalf of the hotels as the connector.
The hope is that this initial project will turn into a program that will be a model for hotels and communities everywhere! There will be more to come as the project continues to develop. Stay tuned!