Since its onset in early Spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftershocks have been felt by virtually every business in every industry around the world. Hotels are no different. In fact, they are among some of the companies hit hardest by the pandemic. As the world was forced to go into lockdowns due to quarantine mandates to limit the pandemic’s spread, businesses and organizations within the hospitality and travel industry were forced to put their organizational resiliency to the test.
Now that a number of vaccines are in circulation for distribution to public demographics, hotels are about to face a secondary challenge. As more Americans become comfortable with traveling again, hoteliers and their industry organizations are going to need to ensure their employees are prepared and protected by getting vaccinated.
Pledging To Protect Others
One such organization is the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), the largest hotel owner’s association in the U.S. with over 19,000 members who collectively own nearly 65% of all hotels in the U.S. Recently, the organization has launched their “Pledge to Protect Our Guests, Employees, and Businesses” initiative to help hoteliers provide their employees with the resources they need to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as possible.
At the forefront of this initiative is Sunil Tolani, the award-winning serial entrepreneur and CEO of Prince Organization which is described as “a highly esteemed real estate empire [that]…has not only stood as a power player in the commercial realm but has acted a driver of change,” fighting against injustice and advocating for a multitude of global social issues – not the least of which has been the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on hoteliers and their businesses.
“Hotels are an essential business,” Tolani tells us, “we were open throughout the pandemic. We followed proper safety protocols like social distancing, wearing PPE, and routinely sanitizing our rooms and common areas. Just like nurses, doctors, police officers, and firefighters were on the frontlines to offer help and offer comfort and solace during the pandemic, shelter at the hotels doing crucial work and doing a great ‘essential’ service to our communities in this time of need.”
“We have stayed at our hotels and visited them throughout the year,” said Neelam Tolani, Sunil’s wife and life partner. “Our two children, Krish and Aryan, did online schooling through Zooming classes. The vaccination today is a remembrance of all that we’ve lost over the past year,” Neelam said. “It is randomly all in one moment difficult and beautiful.”
“This is wonderful and thank you for being an early adopter of the Pledge to Protect! Know that you’re doing great work in your community. Wonderful to see you and your family leading by example,” wrote AAHOA Vice President Heather Carnes in response to the Tolanis’ pledge.
Putting People First Over Profit
Tolani wrote that in the early days of the pandemic, both he and his wife, Neelam, had early access to government-run virus tests. However, in the true spirit of leadership, neither Tolani nor his wife wanted to take advantage of existing regulations or insider “political favors” which could be abused to put them on a “VIP list of friends and family” to have tests administered from the comfort of their homes over the 2020 December holidays. early priority on Covid shots with preferential treatment. Instead, they pledged that they would only take the shot once all of their staff across the U.S. took the vaccine.
Miraculously, Tolani’s own company, Prince Organization, did not see a single COVID-19 case in their employees throughout the entire pandemic. Together with his wife, the two received Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at the Long Beach Convention Center in California this past April. Both expressed that they were extremely happy finally to get it administered without any personal favors or entitlements.
When asked why he and his wife opted to wait to receive their first vaccine dose, Tolani mentioned to us that his own personal values – like those of his organization – are rooted in helping others in their community first.
“My passion is elevating humanity through hospitality,” said Tolani, “and it is my personal mission to elevate the consciousness of hoteliers, creating livelihood for thousands of people and helping local communities. In founding our company, we pledged to be a conscientious corporation…the emphasis is the passion to help others,” which Tolani describes is accomplished by empowering, educating, and creating opportunities for both financial growth as well as personal developments.
“I love to try to solve social problems with the same imagination, passion, and energy we use to make a profit,” Tolani added. “I do not call it philanthropy, but…corporate social investment with a long-term impact.”
Committing To Purpose-Driven Values
Tolani’s dedication to elevating others and serving local communities is exemplified by the numerous awards he and his organization have received, including the 2012 Social Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, The Orange County Business Excellence Award in Entrepreneurship, the 2012 Philanthropy and Outstanding Humanitarian Award, 2015’s Largest Minority-Owned Business in Orange County and America’s Most Honored Business, and dozens more. Tolani’s commitment to AAHOA’s “Pledge” initiative has also drawn wide praise from many of his hotelier colleagues and peers, further solidifying his position as a purpose-driven leader in the hospitality and hotel industries.
Along with making Prince Organizations one of the first companies to take the AAHOA pledge and protect hoteliers and their employees from the lingering aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tolani’s work remains committed to values centered around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) advocacy.
Coupled with his DEI advocacy, Tolani has also utilized his leadership position as a hotelier to prevent domestic abuse cases and instances of sex trafficking involving women since founding Prince Organization in 2007. As a strong advocate for social change and reform, Tolani has entrenched himself in philanthropic work, raising both awareness and funding for communities, organizations, nonprofits, and individuals who work to fight against wage inequality, prison reforms, and LGBTQIA+ rights.
Prince Organization also offers its employees paid time off to vote in all local and national elections and routinely provides opportunities for its multicultural employees through adherence to progressive virtues and causes, and continually strives to validate its employees’ contributions to their company and the hospitality industry as a whole.
“2020 has proven to me that our hotel employees are an incredibly strong community and family,” Tolani says. “Rather than giving up in the face of adversity and uncertainty, they were able to quickly respond to crises with resilience to serve those who needed us most in these troubling times.”
To know more about the amazing Mr. Sunil Tolani and his growing business, make sure to visit the Prince Organization’s Facebook page.
Image: Prince Organization CEO & Social Entrepreneur seen taking first Coovid-19 shot @ long beach convention center April 16.