Hotels for Heroes Champion, La Quinta Inns & Suites, Derek Blake
The latest feature of Hearts Behind the House, highlights Derek Blake, with La Quinta Inns & Suites. Derek is their VP of Partnership, Marketing and Military Programs. Derek and La Quinta partner with our Hotels for Heroes program.
People at Fisher House Foundation will be the first to say “we can’t do it alone.” We are fortunate to have the support of various corporations and their wonderful staff to assist in our many programs. That’s where La Quinta Inns & Suites comes in to assist with Hotels for Heroes.
“Three years ago, La Quinta launched a program to embrace our military community,” said Derek Blake, Vice President of Partnership, Marketing and Military Programs. “We began by looking closely at which military non-profit organizations would be the best to partner with. We wanted the ‘best of the best,’ and after careful consideration and research, Fisher House Foundation came out on top.”
La Quinta, with more than 850 hotels and a workforce of around 8,000, has a strategy for supporting military and their families, said Derek. We have a vibrant hiring program for veterans, their spouses and caregivers and are actively engaged in Fisher House Foundation along with numerous veterans’ initiatives. The result, he says, is an overall culture shift that started with committed leadership.
“But we’ve carried this one step further,” said Derek. “We encourage our La Quinta Returns (loyalty program) members to donate their points, too.” In fact, last November La Quinta aggressively marketed Fisher House’s Hotel for Heroes program to their loyal members. In just 30 days, more than 1,600 people donated 9.7 million points. Because La Quinta matched their members’ donations, it meant that military families had more than 1,100 nights of free hotel rooms.
“Our customers were hungry to help our military. It was just unreal. We never expected such an overwhelming response,” said Derek. “It’s about doing the right thing. La Quinta’s leadership and loyalty program members understand that. This is not a flavor of the month at La Quinta, it’s about who we are and our core values.”
Derek also talked about what it means to partner with Fisher House. Not only does the partnership allow Fisher House to help military families, but La Quinta benefits from being associated “with such an esteemed organization like Fisher House,” he said.
“We can make a difference. Each one of us can make a difference,” exclaimed Derek. “And when you work for a company that truly believes supporting the military is the right thing to do – that’s important.”