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Going Beyond ‘Green Travel’ to Create a Lasting Impact on the Hospitality Industry

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Legacy Vacation Resorts is dedicated to providing vacation experiences for families and friends to create their unique moments and lasting memories in a manner that respects our environment, employees and community. The company as a whole seeks to go beyond simple eco-friendly initiatives and use our business to make a legitimate positive impact in the communities we serve and the world at large.

In March of 2019, LVR became a Certified B Corporation, which are companies that voluntarily commit to transparency and legally dedicate themselves to a triple bottom line of serving people, the planet and profit. Since then, the company has used these principles as a guiding light for the future of our business and its stakeholders.

A Purpose Driven Mission For More

In late 2017, Legacy Vacation Resorts was working hard to deliver a great value on high quality vacation experiences for our guests and we were doing so successfully, at least by traditional metrics. We were profitable, reinvesting back into our operation, improving guest satisfaction and providing growth for our employees. Despite this success, it did not feel like we were driving a positive overall impact. In fact, it seemed we were, like many companies, seeking incremental improvement and allowing others to deal with our business’ negative externalities, many occurring without our knowledge because we did not measure them.

Legacy Vacation Club Indian Shores in Clearwater Beach, Florida

We struggled to see how we could make a net positive impact and felt that the word “sustainability” was being used by most businesses as part of a “green/purpose washing” campaign. Not wanting to do the same, we began educating ourselves on how we could use our resources and abilities most effectively and credibly. Through this process, we identified a few business movements and programs that enlightened us on how we could properly measure our impact, enhance what we were doing well, reduce or eliminate what we were not, and contribute to larger systematic change for a shared, inclusive, and durable prosperity for all.

We have since aligned with several of these organizations but were most enamored with Certified B Corporations. Administered by the non-profit, B Lab, Certified B Corps are businesses that voluntarily meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose through third-party verification. They adopt a higher purpose, stakeholder orientation, conscious practices, and offset their negative externalities.

These practices led them to thrive through strong profits, stability, and valuation. While some household names like Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, Ben & Jerry’s, and Seventh Generation were part of this movement, we were disheartened to learn that our home state of Florida (the 3rd most populous state), only had 17 B Corps, and the entire United States had no multi-state resort hospitality companies.

Finally, we had found a way that we could deliver a net positive societal impact and we were determined to not only become a certified B Corp, but to facilitate the growth of the B Corp movement in Florida and in the hospitality industry at large.

In early 2018, LVR began efforts toward securing B Corp Certification. This meant analyzing our operating procedures and efforts in five Impact Areas required by the certification process, including Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers. During what turned out to be a year-long process aligning every aspect of Legacy Vacation Resorts with B Lab’s requirements, the company rolled out multiple initiatives towards a more sustainable business model.

In addition to becoming a Certified B Corporation, LVR was among the first multi-state hotel companies to become a member of 1% For The Planet, a network of more than 1,500 member businesses, numerous individuals, and thousands of nonprofit partners in more than 40 countries. The organization is fostering a global movement, inspiring businesses to support environmental solutions by making a simple commitment to donate 1% of their sales revenue to various charities working in one of six core focus areas, including climate, food, land, pollution, water, and wildlife. LVR also became a proud partner of Conscious Capitalism International, an organization that maintains a philosophy based on a simple idea that when practiced consciously, business innately elevates humanity.

Building A Legacy

After certification became official in March of 2019, LVR became the first multi-state hospitality and vacation ownership company to offset the carbon footprint of guests booked through our website, offer to donate 5% of our guest’s reservation to a charity of their choice, donate 1% of our total revenue to environmental charities (as part of our 1% for the Planet commitment), sponsor Conscious Capitalism, and meet Certified B Corporation standards. The new sustainable business model includes 100% carbon footprint offsetting for guests that book directly with the LVR website, electric vehicle chargers at each property, waste reduction and enhanced recycling efforts, sustainable lifestyle awareness campaigns, green-focused renovation projects and a living wage initiative for employees in our eight locations across four states.

The company also implemented an internal “Day of Hope” campaign, which gives employees the opportunity to receive paid time off in pursuit of volunteer activities. Moving forward, LVR has adopted a reduction target to cut down all emissions by 25% by the year 2025.

LVR is also undergoing a process of changing the way we think as a company to a “Life-Cycle” approach. This means we are taking into account where our dollars go from manufacturing to distribution to consumption. Together with suppliers, we are working towards ensuring they enforce a responsible code of conduct in their own workplaces. We believe the companies, vendors and suppliers we work with should support their local economy and support purchases that do not sacrifice the environment or cause harm to human wellbeing and health.

While all of these changes will give our existing guests additional reasons to be proud to stay with us, they will also attract a new kind of traveler and customer – one that shares our values and places importance on social responsibility, environmental responsibility and sustainable travel. By incorporating these conscious values into our ethos rather than just creating a department for it, leadership sincerely believes we will achieve our mission better than ever before and experience revenue growth for the company.

Looking ahead, as we exhibit success by using our business as a force for good, we will share this information within the hospitality industry to help it attain sustainable economic development. Our desire is not to be the best in the world but the best for the world, and part of that is to inspire other companies to follow suit.

Our Impact in Action

An excellent place to see the implementation and execution of our new sustainable initiatives is at the company’s flagship location, Legacy Vacation Resorts Indian Shores, home to villa-style accommodations and beach access just a short walk away. Located on the picturesque Gulf Coast of Florida, the property recently underwent a full scale green renovation project and now boasts the smallest energy footprint of all locations in our portfolio.

The project introduced all new energy star appliances and fixtures as well as new operation and maintenance procedures to ensure that the building isn’t only built in a sustainable manner, but is also being managed efficiently as well. The remodel efforts used low VOC paints, and policies we have in place require the use of non-toxic cleaners, therefore reducing toxic output.

Water management products and systems are used to help conserve our water usage and reduce water waste, and guests are provided with in-room pitchers and signage detailing the safety of filtered water provided by the city to hopefully eliminate their need for single-use plastic water bottles. Furthermore, native and drought-resistant landscaping is used throughout the property to mitigate the need for heavy irrigation and use of fertilizers. The resort, along with all locations in the company, offers waste recycling services for guests as well as a partnership with Clean the World, a certified B Corp, based in Orlando, that recycles our used hygiene products and repurposes them back to vulnerable communities around the world.

The resort also seeks to do good for the local community, and we first look to utilize products and services from local and Certified B Corp suppliers and vendors whenever possible thus contributing to a circular economy. This supplier management is not just better business, but an effort to educate our guests about new responsible products that they can obtain back home.

We plan to implement similar projects and initiatives at all of our eight locations in four states, with some impressive programs having already been introduced. Currently, our Brigantine beach resort is powered by 100% renewable electricity. ‘Sustainability Champions’ have been appointed at each location that acts as a sustainability ambassador to communicate and promote corporate initiatives. All resorts with food and beverage operations offer plant-based food options and boxed water is available at Resort Markets. This year, we launched an annual scholarship program where we provided three $2,000.00 scholarships to employees or their dependents.

The company also began a matching campaign for employee contributions to approved charities which includes donations the employees give collectively throughout the company and during property activities up to $2,500.00. We have also established an employee energy rebate program at our headquarters, as well as the Orlando and Kissimmee properties, where employees can purchase LED lights at our company’s cost to help with reducing their personal carbon footprint at home. There is also a selection of socially responsible investing options available in employee retirement plans.

One of the most remarkable initiatives is our Employee Income Advance Program, currently available for Florida and New Jersey-based employees. This program offers bank assistance to employees in good standing (generally with a tenure of one year or greater) by providing loaned funds of $500 – $2,500 for emergency expenditures. Loans are repaid via automatic payroll deductions, thus building the borrower’s credit score. Once the loan is paid off, the payroll deduction is continued and rolled into a savings account. This program helps employees not only avoid predatory lending to take care of emergency financial needs, but also builds credit and savings, financial literacy and financial stability.

Looking ahead, each location will continue to find ways to reduce single use plastic items and unnecessary waste, individual amenities will be switched out for refillable dispensers, check-in documents will be streamlined to eliminate the need for printed collateral, and we will seek continued improvement.

Business For Good, For All

While using our business as a force for good, we will educate the hospitality industry on how to attain sustainable economic development. As part of the pursuit of this goal, we co-founded the Florida for Goodmovement to help create a better world by combining the power of business with accountability, transparency, and a stakeholder orientation. The For Good Movement is a connection between B Corps, Conscious Capitalism, 1% for the Planet, like minded organizations/networks, governments/chambers, academia, and the local For Good ecosystems. It promotes business responsibility & resiliency to all companies, whether they be considered irresponsible today or whether they are competing to be the best for the world.

Florida for Good funds free resources, an online business directory and events to facilitate the spread of conscious business and growth of the Certified B Corp community in Florida and beyond. Since the organization’s inception, Legacy Vacation Resorts has donated more than $50,000 to its charitable endeavors via cash and in-kind support. As part of our mission, LVR and Florida for Good encourage companies to take B Lab’s free impact assessment so they can learn how they measure up against other businesses and learn about the areas in which they can most improve.

In the time since it launched in 2018, Florida for Good has grown significantly and now boasts four local/regional chapters including Central Florida for Good, St. Pete for Good, Northeast Florida for Good and Boca for Good and more than 100 member businesses.

Our business is successful not in spite of our responsible practices but because of them. At Legacy Vacation Resorts, we feel strongly that business leaders will impact our future, so we need leaders that appreciate the interdependence of all things, and recognize that true success is predicated on the success of all stakeholders, not just shareholders.

Mr. MeyersJared Meyers is a hospitality veteran with more than 20 years in the industry. The University of Florida graduate is passionate about delivering a quality product through his company, Legacy Vacation Resorts, to help friends and families enjoy unforgettable vacations together. One of his other passions? Utilizing the power of his business as a force for good. Searching for a way to use his resources and abilities for positive change, Mr. Meyers learned about Certified B Corporations – companies that voluntarily meet the highest levels of social and environmental performance with transparency and accountability. Inspired by his findings, he immediately set out on a journey to transform his company into a Certified B Corp and also create a movement to help other hospitality and travel businesses to do the same. Always looking toward the bigger picture for his social and environmental impact goals, Mr. Meyers co-created the Florida for Good program. With its entrepreneurial spirit, Florida For Good is the connector between B Corps, Conscious Capitalism, 1% For The Planet, like minded organizations/networks, governments/chambers, academia, and the localized For Good ecosystems throughout the state. Jared Meyers can be contacted at 407-697-0388 or jared@legacyvacationclub.com Please visit http://www.legacyvacationresorts.com for more information.Extended Biography

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Travel Guide: 10 businesses that give back while you travel

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The human impact of travel and the tourism industry takes a huge toll on our environment each year. The United Nations Environment Program identified three significant environmental affects of tourism: depletion of natural resources, pollution and the degradation of the communities and ecosystems in the places we travel.

Our planet is beautiful and meant for exploring. We believe that traveling to new places, learning about other cultures and experiencing truly wild places holds the power to educate us all and encourage environmental change. So, we aren’t asking you to stop traveling—but rather, we hope you take the proper precautions when planning your next trip to ensure that your travels are environmentally cautious and cause as little harm as possible to the places you explore.

Sustainable travel can easily be put into practice—whether you’re working with an environmental nonprofit to help you travel responsibly or checking off your packing list of sustainable 1% for the Planet member products.

You can also reduce your travel footprint by choosing tourism businesses, lodging and travel agencies within the 1% for the Planet network. Understanding the environmental implications of human travel, these members joined 1% for the Planet to take responsibility for the impact their business has on the planet.


BUCKEYE TREE LODGE & SEQUOIA VILLAGE INN

📍Sequoia National Park – California

In recent years, our National Parks have seen a huge influx of tourists (thanks, Instagram). Due to underfunding and overcrowding, it’s becoming more and more important to ensure that tourists take steps to protect these public lands from pollution and degradation. While it’s no surprise that everyone wants to capture the natural beauty of these picturesque parks, travelers can reduce their impact by choosing sustainably responsible accommodations when booking their trip.

Buckeye Tree Lodge and Sequoia Village Inn are located just outside of Sequoia National Park in Three Rivers, California. Not only are these local businesses 1% for the Planet members, but they also implement many environmental and community initiatives into their business model. From solar powered systems and energy efficient appliances to eco-friendly products, your trip to Three Rivers is sure to be as fulfilling as it is environmentally friendly.

No matter what time of year you’re hoping to visit Sequoia National Park, these affordable lodges have activities for every season. So, be sure to put whitewater rafting, fly fishing, high-elevation hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, snow-shoeing, bear watching, and giving back on your bucket list.

Environmental Support:

Every stay at Buckeye Tree Lodge and Sequoia Village Inn contributes to their commitment to give back to their community and protect the National Parks they call home. Through their 1% for the Planet partnerships, Buckeye Tree Lodge and Sequoia Village Inn support the Sequoia Parks Conservancy and the Sierra Club.


DISCOVERY BICYCLE TOURS

📍Around the world

There’s no better way to tread lightly (do you get it?) on our world than by traveling by bicycle. Unless of course, it’s biking with a business that actively works to preserve and protect the environment they tread on. Discovery Bicycle Tours is family owned and joined the 1% for the Planet family in 2018 when Scott and Thistle Cone took the reins as co-owners.

Discovery Bicycle Tours offers inn-to-inn bicycle tours around the world. The company aims to provide outstanding bicycle tours, top-notch service and give back to the extraordinary places they love to bike.

With tour offerings in North America, South America, Europe and Asia, you could start your trip at Discovery Bicycle Tours headquarters in Vermont, explore Chile’s lakes and volcanoes, bike Key-to-Key in Florida, visit the world’s happiest country (and biking-mecca) Denmark, or even bask in in some of the most spectacular scenery in Southeast Asia as you adventure through Vietnam.

With Discovery Bicycle Tours, the possibilities are endless and the environmental impact is minimal.

Environmental Support:

In an effort to protect public lands and preserve the outdoor spaces we explore, Discovery Bicycle Tours supports the Nature Conservancy, the Vermont Land Trust, Local Motion, and BikeCentennial—Adventure Cycling Association.


EAGLE WING WHALE & WILDLIFE TOURS

📍Victoria BC, Canada

Eagle Wing Tours was our first whale-watching member and has been a true steward for the environment since day one. With the belief that wildlife viewing can provide educational merit and encourage environmental sustainability, the Eagle Wing Tours team goes to great lengths to ensure that their tours also have positive impact on their community.

Beyond their 1% for the Planet membership, Eagle Wing Tours is 100% carbon neutral and a founding member of the Victoria Sustainable Tourism Alliance. Their boats are energy efficient, clean and quiet to reduce water and air pollution. Oh, and they provide every customer with a whale sighting guarantee.

“The natural world has massive demands placed upon it every day. At Eagle Wing we believe that being a responsible steward means being active, positive contributors to the ecosystem we love and are able to make our living from.” – Brett Soberg, Eagle Wings Tour co-owner

Environmental Support:

Through 1% for the Planet, Eagle Wing Tours supports Cowichan Energy Alternatives, Shaw Center for the Salish Sea, Sierra Club BC, Goldstream Volunteer Salmonid Enhancement Society, Saturna Island Marine Research & Education Society (SIMRES), Center for Whale Research, Marine Education and Research Society (MERS) and Race Rocks to just name a few! We highly encourage you to take the time to learn more about their environmental stewardship and conservation efforts.


CONSCIOUS ADVENTURIST

📍Around the world

Conscious Adventurist is a global travel organization committed to ethical, sustainable and responsible travel. Conscious Adventurist aims to provide they best customized, mindful travel for any age or experience. From adventure trips for the adrenaline junky to a relaxed trek through a new country, every itinerary is customizable and can accommodate any travelers needs. Every trip is a combination of fulfilling a traveler’s desire to connect with a new place and the obligation to protect the environment for future adventurers.

With Conscious Adventurist, you can truly go anywhere in the world— get inspired by 7 Life-Changing Experiences Around the World and 23 Must-Visit American Cities for Outdoor Adventure Travel. Wherever you decide to go, you can travel knowing that your trip helps give back.

Want to learn more about how you too can be a more sustainable traveler? Learn from the experts at Conscious Adventurist about 5 Ways to Give Back When You Travel and 15 Ways to Reduce Waste When You Travel.

Environmental Support:

As a 1% for the Planet member, Conscious Adventurist strives to give back as much as possible by supporting nonprofit organizations like Protect Our Winters. They are an eco-conscious organization that works to build environmental initiatives into their business.

 

RUN THE ALPS

📍France, Italy & Switzerland

There’s no denying that the French, Italian and Swiss mountain ranges are some of the most stunning views in the world. Run The Alps provides the opportunity to explore these incredible mountains by foot. Run The Alps aims to provide the best trail running experience for runners of any level, with guided and self-guided tours.

Whether you’re exploring the Italian Dolomites or running through French, Italy and Switzerland on their most popular tour, Tour Mont-Blanc, Run The Alps always incorporates Leave No Trace principles into their trips. They are committed to responsible travel and work to reduce the impact of their travel, including purchasing carbon offsets and of course, their 1% for the Planet membership.

Environmental Support:

Through their 1% for the Planet membership, Run The Alps works to protect the wild places they run by supporting 1% for the Planet and research in the impact of climate change on high altitude environments through their partnership with The Research Center for Alpine Ecosystems.


ALASKA ALPINE ADVENTURES

📍Alaska

Alaska Alpine Adventures started in 1998 with sustainable roots as they worked to incorporate conservation ethics into every part of their company and travel itineraries since day one. In 2015, they took their commitment to protecting Alaska to the next level by joining 1% for the Planet.

Through Alaska Alpine Adventures, you can explore Alaska’s wildest places via backpacking, hiking, kayaking, rafting or a combination of adventure sports. The hard question isn’t how you’ll explore Alaska, but where will you go. With so many incredible options through Alaska’s national parks, it’s hard to decide on just one trip. We’d suggest starting with Alaska Alpine Adventures’ bread and butter: Lake Clark National Park. This extraordinary trip is where Alaska Alpine Adventures guided their first tour in 1998 and to this day is regarded as their favorite place to explore.

Environmental Support:

Alaska Alpine Adventures supports Alaska Center for the Environment and Trout Unlimited to protect their local environment with, Student Conservation Association to inspire future generations to to the same, and 1% for the Planet to strengthen and grow environmental philanthropy around the world. Additionally,