If the hospitality industry was founded on a premise of service, then, at times, it’s more than appropriate to honor or remember those who have served—especially when that service came under extreme circumstances.
Take the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
You’ve probably read stories about how staff at the Taj Mahal, Trident and Oberoi hotels saved countless lives by shepherding guests to safety, securing doors, and maintaining a general sense of clam amidst the chaos.
There are even reports of one Taj employee who stood defiantly against an armed gunman to shield a line of guests behind him. He took the bullets, and the guests fled to safety.
But while many have just read about these courageous acts (this blogger included), a group of inspired students at Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration decided to actually do something about it.
The result is Hotelies with a Heart, a student-run organization that aims to raise money for families of the employees that were killed at the Oberoi-Trident and Taj Mahal Palace hotels in Mumbai.
“The basis of the hospitality industry is service,” wrote the group’s president and graduate student, Abhay Bakaya, in an e-mail. “We feel that in an industry where people try to satisfy their guests day in and day out with a passion, their dedication should be recognized.”
Once they raise their goal of Rs100,000 per employee (approximately US$50,000 in total), the group will pass the money on to the presidents of the Oberoi-Trident and Taj hotels. The presidents then will distribute the funds to the families of the deceased.
“If the bravery of the employees who died in the attacks is forgotten or not appreciated as well as it should, this not only takes away from what they believed in and died for, but it also takes away from motivation in current employees across the industry,” Bakaya said.
Hotelies with a Heart just launched a Web site (which is still in the works, Bakaya said). Donations can be made directly through the site or through PayPal.