February 9, 2021 | Author: Giuliana Vittiglio
After nearly a year of adapting to an ever-changing landscape of restrictions, closures and lockdowns we continue to be blown away by the ingenious fundraising efforts undertaken on our behalf. So far in 2021 we have seen supporters travel thousands of miles (virtually) and raise thousands of pounds in order to support their industry colleagues in crisis. We caught up with Kim Ashmore, Global Partnerships Manager at The ASAP to learn a little more about their recent fundraising endeavours:
Who is The ASAP, and what do you do?
The Association of Serviced Apartment Providers (ASAP) is a not-for-profit trade organisation representing serviced accommodation providers. We represent members in 27 countries and are continuing to grow - even welcoming more than ten new members during the pandemic! We also facilitate a lively and active community of serviced accommodation buyers who meet regularly with our Accredited members to find out more about one another. This enables the buyers to grow their supply chains using safe, secure, standards-checked accommodation options, and we also represent and promote a large group of suppliers of goods and services to the accommodation industry. This all makes us a collaborative community - and we also work alongside a growing number of hospitality partners, sharing best practice and strengthening the understanding and take-up of the serviced apartment sector.
How has the pandemic impacted your work?
At the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 there was general confusion among those needing somewhere to stay as most hotels and B & B’s closed and travellers needed accommodation – sometimes urgently. ASAP reacted quickly to pull together a group of apartment providers who, with the help of some of our booking agent members, offered cost-rate (sometimes free) apartments to keyworkers, rough sleepers and those fleeing domestic abuse. For some months, rough sleepers, fire fighters and NHS workers found safety, security and a home from home environment at the most difficult of times. We also put together a group of providers in association with Marketing Manchester and the Greater Manchester Police to offer emergency evacuation accommodation in the event of a non-Covid related emergency. Although the collapse of business travel has been catastrophic, in a strange way it has helped our members market themselves to new audiences.
When did you first become aware of HA and what prompted you to fundraise?
I became aware of HA via an IoH webinar with the wonderful Dr Hilary Cooke who spoke about guidance for leaders in the Hospitality industry in a post-crisis world. She kindly offered a free copy of her book ‘Picking up the Pieces’ with a request to those who could afford to do so, to buy 'Invisible Chips' in lieu of payment. The link introduced me to Invisible Chips (I bought Heston’s Triple Cooked Chips and a portion of Salt & Vinegar – thanks for asking!) and to HA. It was such a revelation that this help was available and I suggested to the ASAP team that we adopt HA as our official charity and become a stockist of Invisible Chips. During our Emergency Accommodation initiative in 2020 the reports of an increase in mental health issues and of an increase in rough sleepers from the hospitality sector became a worryingly regular topic of conversation. We wanted to raise funds to help as quickly as possible so, with the help of some like-minded industry friends, the Charity Champions group was formed to become a working party of volunteers on an event in aid of HA.
Tell us about #HAMandChips
#HAMandchips stands for Hospitality Action Marathon and Chips! We had come up with the idea of getting the whole of the serviced apartment industry involved in an event that would work within any Covid restrictions. We decided to challenge member companies to complete a marathon in a week and to ask for donations to convert miles to money. The Charity Champions teams were encouraged to take part and to share training photos and by the time the event started we were 30% of the way towards our target. From 25th Jan to 1st Feb people walked, ran and biked in snow, rain, sun, darkness and light. We practically took over LinkedIn for the week with the hashtags #HAMandchips #wevegotyou and #hereforyou seemingly on every post. It was an amazing feeling to see it happening and to be part of it. It's not done yet; the money is still coming in and we are at £6,861 or 137% at the time of writing.
HAMandchips has been so popular that we are making it an annual event. HAMandchips22 is already being planned!
Why do you think the hospitality industry needs a charity like HA?
More than ever before, HA is a vital part of the hospitality industry. During the pandemic, we have seen hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs. The end of furlough in April will undoubtedly mean more. Those left in employment are frequently working reduced hours whilst seeing their teams reduced in size and may be covering two, three or four roles. Those who haven’t been furloughed, will frequently not have had a break for months and are exhausted. Both employed and unemployed are suffering financial uncertainty and/or mental hardship. HA offers hospitality folk an outlet to say ‘I’m not ok’ or ‘I need some help’ which often doesn’t come easily to those in the service industry who are hard-wired to be positive, smiley and trained to put their own troubles aside to make their guests lives the best they can be. Awareness of HA is crucial for those who feel they are walking a tightrope to know that there is a safety net. It has never been more important to hear the words ‘we’ve got you’.
We are indebted to The ASAP and all those who took part in #HAMandChips on our behalf. If you'd like to sponsor the team simply click here. And if you'd like to raise funds on our behalf, via a challenge event or nominating us as your Charity of the Year just like The ASAP please get in touch.