March 19, 2018, Victoria, BC – Sustainability and social responsibility have become buzzwords of the tourism and hospitality industry, often used so loosely that it clouds the actual concept. Canada’s Inn at Laurel Point in Victoria, British Columbia has taken the social enterprise model to the next level. This independent luxury hotel is now leading the way with its socially conscious approach to hospitality, including being the first carbon neutral hotel in British Columbia. For guests and meeting planners, this means the money spent at the Inn will have a lasting impact on the staff, surrounding community, and the planet – in addition to providing an extraordinary experience.
A social enterprise is defined as a money-making business with social objectives. In the case of Inn at Laurel Point, the hotel/social enterprise uses its profits to reinvest in the business and maintain a great hotel, support its employees, and when possible, invest in community initiatives, rather than delivering profit to an owner or shareholders. Inn at Laurel Point has formally operated under a trust since 2008, with a mission to oversee Inn at Laurel Point.
“We’re in the business of making money, so we are definitely a for-profit business that offers guests a luxury experience,” says Ian Powell, managing director. “As a social enterprise, Inn at Laurel Point is committed to our financial well-being, our colleagues, and our community. Rather than handing our profits to shareholders, we reinvest into our property to make it a consistently great experience for our guests. We then invest into our colleagues and third, into the community, supporting initiatives which impact the environment and our local community in positive ways.”
For the Inn, success starts from within, bolstering the social enterprise model. Balance of work and life’s priorities are kept top of mind among the management team and their employees. Inn at Laurel Point staff receive the benefit of health and wellness programs, as well as skill building and training to advance careers. Inn at Laurel Point not only consistently offers its guests exceptional service but ensures that their employees experience an exceptional work environment as well. Holding its core values to heart – excellence, curiosity, respect, and stewardship – the Inn shows its appreciation for its team in every facet.
Along with becoming British Columbia’s first carbon-neutral property in 2008, the Inn has invested in its sustainability efforts in order to lower its overall footprint. Guided by the support of local carbon experts Synergy Enterprises, these have included the addition of an electric car charging station; locally sourced and sustainably purchased ingredients for all menus offered at the Inn; and becoming a founding partner in ViSTA (the Victoria Sustainable Tourism Alliance). As a way of taking responsibility for its carbon footprint, Inn at Laurel Point purchases offsets that support the Cowichan Bio-Diesel Co-op, which recycles cooking oil from local restaurants into bio-diesel to fuel vehicles on Vancouver Island, eliminating the need for fossil fuels. In partnership with Synergy, Inn at Laurel Point has on-site tracking systems to help realize their goals.
Finally, Inn at Laurel Point – which is Five Green Keys certified (2017) – supports their local Vancouver Island community on an ongoing basis by partnering with the United Way, Habitat for Humanity Victoria, Disaster Aid Canada, and the BC Cancer Agency (cancer patients undergoing treatment at the Vancouver Island Centre get reduced accommodation rates).
While social enterprise isn’t a silver bullet, it is a promising approach to fostering “triple-bottom-line” organizations – those seeking profits, social impact and environmental sustainability at the same time. Guests of the Inn at Laurel Point can delight in a luxurious stay while knowing it supports the Inn’s great mission – to integrate social impact into business operations and prioritize social goals alongside financial returns. In a nutshell, the more money the Inn is able to make, the more it can invest back into supporting its social efforts – a great reason to book a stay!
For more information, visit https://www.laurelpoint.com/the-inn/corporate-social-responsibility.htm.
Brian Cant, Beattie Tartan: 250-592-3838, 250-888- 8729 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org