Marriott’s New Voluntourism Package – A Bit Late, But A Great Move

Marriott announced a new voluntourism package for New Orleans where guests can volunteer to help rebuild New Orleans which is still badly damaged in many areas from Hurricane Katrina 5 years ago, as well as the recent oil spill caused by BP. According to Marriott’s blog post, the package works as such:

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Participants in the program can either volunteer with New Orleans area Habitat for Humanity to help to build homes devastated by Hurricane Katrina or Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans to help get food to Gulf Coast families impacted by the oil spill.  The package includes deluxe accommodations, a Spirit to Serve Concierge to assist with coordinating volunteer efforts, a boxed lunch for two, transportation to the volunteer site and two commemorative t-shirts.

For more info on the package, check out this post on Travelanthropist.com.

Marriott is no stranger to voluntourism, as Ritz-Carlton has offered their Give Back Getaways for many years and its been a highly successful and highly regarded program. What is different is that Ritz Carlton’s voluntourism packages span the world, support a variety of causes, and are on-going. Marriott’s Spirit to Serve voluntourism package is a limited time only (for the rest of 2010, so approximately 5 months) and is limited to New Orleans.

My hope is that the project is a wild success and this package is extended. I also hope Marriott finds a business case to offer a more robust voluntourism offering like it’s sister company Ritz-Carlton. From my experience, the demographic most interested in volunteering & humanitarian projects is typically not the super rich, but usually the young 20- and 30-something professionals who don’t have a ton of money but do have a ton of soul and spirit.

Marriott has shown an increasing attention to corporate citizenship and doing good – between their green hotel prototype and their oil free guarantee, it’s refreshing to see this momentum building. My challenge to you, Marriott, is to keep this momentum building more and more, and turn your voluntourism packages into a permanent and expansive offering.

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