This is a case study that's a part of the 2021 REIT Industry ESG Report, an annual report detailing the REIT industry's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance details in the publicly traded U.S. REIT industry. Featured case studies showcase REIT leadership and ESG innovation from a variety of sectors and serve as a practical tool for stakeholders to assess the scale and impact of the REIT industry's ESG commitments and initiatives.
To instill stakeholder trust and confidence regarding building safety in the pandemic era, Hersha Hospitality Trust (NYSE: HT) launched Rest Assured™—a proprietary program focused on the well-being and safety of guests and associates through advanced, science-based cleaning practices complemented by innovative service offerings and technologies.
The program, one of the first institutional health and safety protocols launched by a REIT in response to the pandemic, focuses on employee training, guest experiences, and cleaning protocols as part of Hersha's overall sustainability platform, EarthView.®
First, the organization was determined to assuage employee concerns about returning to work by instilling confidence in property policies and procedures. Hersha created seven unique employee training modules regarding COVID19 workplace leading practices, customized by position and level, and supplemented with videos, implementation guides, and standard operating procedures. Once completing the Rest Assured training program, employees are encouraged to wear a pin that visibly recognizes and rewards their commitment to health and safety.
Hersha also surveyed guests as a key input for the creation of the Rest Assured program, with the aim of capturing what was most important to them when returning to travel. The survey underscored the importance of physical distancing for nearly 90% of guests, resulting in the implementation of front desk plexiglass shields, plentiful signage around common areas, and incorporation of QR codes and other contactless forms of ordering and payment.
"While the idea of 'building back better' feels cliché, it is also true. The events of this year helped to establish building blocks that will help inform and improve upon our approach to ESG in the future. From applying new insights regarding energy efficiency to continually expanding our health and wellness initiatives, advancing ESG policies and practices has emerged as central to both our COVID-19 recovery efforts and Hersha's long-term strategic planning."
Matthew Lobach, Director of Sustainability
Hersha also provides a Rest Assured wellness kit to guests at select hotels to ensure all building occupants have access to necessary PPE, while simultaneously offering a personal touch reminding guests that their safety is the organization's top priority.
Finally, these guest and employee activities occur in parallel to rigorous, CDC-aligned cleaning efforts.
Since implementing the Rest Assured program, survey results indicate that 91% of guests surveyed feel confident staying with Hersha due to its commitment to safety. Through this program, Hersha is also expanding to a new market of health-conscious guests—including professional sports franchises—whose requirements for heightened building safety are reflected and reinforced through Rest Assured.
Hersha Hospitality Trust is a self-advised real estate investment trust in the hospitality sector, which owns and operates high-quality hotels in urban gateway markets and regional resort destinations.