American Marketer

Events / Causes

Ritz-Carlton blends Make-A-Wish campaign with larger philanthropy vision

December 12, 2013


The Ritz-Carlton is donating up to $100,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dec. 9-20 through a gift card initiative stemming from its Community Footprints canopy program.

The hotel chain will donate 10 percent of the value of every Community Footprints card sold in the United States, Caribbean and online. Tying this campaign into its overarching philanthropy drive will remind consumers that The Ritz-Carlton is dedicated to various causes throughout the year, not just during the holidays.

"We actively encourage guests to get involved in our Community Footprints program and give back to our local communities," said Sue Stephenson, vice president of Community Footprints for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Chevy Chase, MD.

"We know that our guests are inspired by the work The Ritz-Carlton is doing to benefit local communities and appreciate having an opportunity to get engaged and contribute," she said.

"We believe consumers want to be aligned with brands that have an authentic commitment to doing good."

Larger mission

The Community Footprints Gift Cards can be used at all properties worldwide for accommodations, spa treatments, dining and amenities, which makes them versatile for shoppers browsing for gifts.

The Ritz-Carlton gift card

Interested consumers can purchase a card ranging in price from $25 to $2,000.

Beyond contributing funds to Make-A-Wish foundation, The Ritz-Carlton has played a role in granting wishes by letting the child who is receiving her or his wish to stay with her or his family in a nearby hotel.

According to Ms. Stephenson, some examples of wishes that the hotel brand has facilitated this year include fulfilling a girl's wish to meet her favorite singer, allowing a boy's to fly among skyscrapers in a helicopter ride, hosting a girl's birthday party above Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor, helping a young girl walk down the catwalk during a European Fashion week, and allowing a child swim with dolphins and rest on a yacht in the Canary Islands

To promote the latest gift card initiative, the hotel chain is turning to social media.

The Ritz-Carlton Facebook page

Community Footprints is the philanthropy arm of The Ritz-Carlton. Engage, inspire and contribute are the ideas that power the program as it tries to raise social and environmental responsibility.

Some examples of current and past initiatives include skills-based mentoring programs for disadvantaged children, native plant restoration projects and food and poverty relief.

The Ritz-Carlton Community Footprints

In the air

Other hotel chains have recently enacted holiday charity campaigns to link a community of guests around a cause.

For instance, The Trump Hotel Collection is furthering its holiday partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for the annual Thanks and Giving campaign with additional incentives for guests to get involved.

To complement its strong social media presence, the hotel chain will be offering guests a variety of offers that have built-in donations. Trump Hotel’s commitment to the Thanks and Giving campaign conveys an integrity that will likely appeal to consumers who were moved last year (see story).

Brands across categories are looking to ease the burden of the less fortunate this holiday season.

In between focusing on holiday-gifting campaigns fashion brands are promoting their latest charity initiatives to engage consumers around Thanksgiving with nonprofit campaigns.

As retailers and fashion brands are fighting for consumers’ eyes and wallets, tying themselves to a good cause can seem like a way to stand out while making a difference. But while they may be genuine, charity campaigns do not always win consumers (see story).

By allowing each property to get involved in the way that best suits them, The Ritz-Carlton ensures that employees will have a more authentic stake in the projects.

"The hotel teams work together to embellish the child’s wish so that we create exceptional memories for the child and their family," Ms. Stephenson said.

Final Take
Joe McCarthy, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York