October 20, 2015
On Oct. 20, City & State Reports honored the Hotel Association of New York City with its inaugural Special Award for Corporate Citizenship at a “Corporate Social Responsibility” awards ceremony in Manhattan. Chairman Vijay Dandapani and President Joseph E. Spinnato accepted the award on behalf of the Association.

With more than 50 million visitors a year, New York City is indisputably one of the world’s greatest tourist destinations. Giving those visitors a proper welcome is critical to the economic vitality of the city. “Hotels are ambassadors for a thriving, multibillion dollar tourism industry, and we understand our responsibility to maintain the highest standard for New York City’s brand. said Joseph E. Spinnato, president, Hotel Association of New York City (HANYC).

The importance of the industry, however, goes well beyond ensuring that visitors receive a warm welcome in the city. “Many people are unaware of what hotels do in terms of employment and taxes to the city,” added HANYC chairman Vijay Dandapani. “We contribute a substantial portion of the revenues to the city budget, which goes towards providing civic services.”

For most people, a New York City hotel is all about having a friendly place to stay during their visit to Gotham. But for countless others, New York hotels and the businesses they support provide a reliable path to the middle class. “Our workforce is arguably the most diverse in the country,” Dandapani said. “We have workers from well over a hundred countries—I would say almost as many countries as there are in the United Nations.”

Established in 1878, the Hotel Association of New York City is one of America’s oldest professional trade associations. Its 280 member hotels are responsible for more than 75,000 rooms and some 50,000 employees. New York’s hotel industry was one of the nation’s first to provide its employees with medical and retirement benefits through jointly managed trusts. A recent ten-year labor agreement forged by the Hotel Association and its labor partner, the Hotel Trades Council, has advanced that tradition a step further, drawing wide praise for building a new state-of-the-art health center in Brooklyn that caters for union members and their families.

“The Hotel Association has always been committed to the success and wellbeing of our workforce, which is one of the finest in the city,” Spinnato said.

In an industry of crucial importance to the city, the role HANYC plays is vital, whether disseminating best practices around supply-chain and environmental issues, or responding to citywide crises. The Association gives out annual sustainability awards and organizes seminars encouraging sustainable practices across all departments including food and beverage, housekeeping, and energy efficiency.

In the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks and Superstorm Sandy, the Hotel Association and its members helped to ensure that accommodations were available to meet the critical needs of a city in crisis. In response to Superstorm Sandy, the Association also donated $100,000 to the Mayor’s Fund for disaster relief. HANYC’s philanthropic efforts have benefitted numerous organizations including Boy Scouts of Amerca, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, and City Harvest. The HANYC college scholarship fund, meanwhile, has contributed more than $400,000 in annual awards to the children of hotel workers.

“This business is people centric,” Dandapani said. “There’s that ability to get an instant reward for a quality service that one renders—something that is tangible and that comes on an almost daily basis.”