It’s no secret that the tourism industry remains one of the industries hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of hospitality professionals across the globe have been affected in one way or another, and the team at Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau wanted to find a way to support those facing extreme financial hardship. In doing so, they create the Greater Palm Springs Hospitality Workforce Relief Fund, and have since raised nearly $13,000 for thousands of hospitality workers.
What is the Greater Palm Springs Hospitality Workforce Relief Fund?
The Hospitality Workforce Relief Fund was created to raise money in support of local workers in the tourism and hospitality industry facing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19.
Distributed by local nonprofit Lift to Rise and United Way of the Desert through their Coachella Valley Economic Protection Plan and Support Fund, the initial goal was to provide $200 in immediate economic relief to as many hospitality workers as possible that are struggling due to the economic impact COVID-19 has had on the tourism industry. Here in the Coachella Valley, the impact due the stay-at-home orders was devastating. Tourism is the number one industry, supporting more than 53,000 jobs. That’s a lot of families. Our organization’s goal is to raise enough money with our partners to impact at least 10,000 households.
As it became clear that the economic shut-down caused by the pandemic would last more than a few weeks, our partners at Lift to Rise shifted from immediate economic relief to rental assistance, to keep people in their homes. The United Lift rental assistance program began June 1, covering 100% of rent for eligible residents, up to $3,500. Funds from the Hospitality Workforce Relief Fund will be directed toward rental assistance specifically for hospitality workers.
How did you promote this initiative to your community?
The Greater Palm Springs CVB already had a mechanism in place to collect donations—the Greater Palm Springs Tourism Foundation—but we did not have the mechanism to qualify the applications and distribute the funds, so we partnered with Life to Rise to do that part.
To seek donations, we created GPShospitalityFUND.org and sent out information on the fund in our partner e-newsletters with a link to donate. To date, the page has received 1,715 pageviews. The e-newsletter is distributed to more than 3,000 businesses on our frequent daily and weekly communications. We have also promoted the fund through social media and through local media channels.
In addition, we created a 30-second commercial that ran locally as a PSA. The commercial aired 3,334 times for 30 million total impressions.
How has your community responded to the Hospitality Workforce Relief Fund?
We’ve had a wonderful response. So far, the Greater Palm Springs Tourism Foundation has received $12,843 towards the Hospitality Workforce Relief Fund.
As of May, there were 24,000 people who have applied through Lift to Rise, with 8,000 having received monetary assistance.
What do you think other destinations can learn from this initiative?
Due to the strong relationships and communication channels we have with our tourism partners, we were able to share information on the Hospitality Workforce Relief Fund far and wide—and quickly. This pandemic has shown us that beyond destination marketing, our organization can have a much greater role to play within the destination moving forward by providing resources and information addressing the needs of our local community.