Impact4Good Puts Corporate Travelers to Work for Hawaiian Communities

Maryland-based Impact4Good Sees Value in Continuing Incentive Travel, with a Conscience 

Impact4Good Puts Corporate Travelers to Work for Hawaiian Communities

We've all heard the phrase "A Little Aloha Goes a Long Way". But "Aloha" isn't the first sentiment that comes to mind when you hear about big, corporate groups that descend upon large-scale resorts across Hawai`i for meetings or incentive travel. One small company is making a run to change all that. Bethesda, Maryland-based Impact4Good is literally repositioning the notion that deserving employees at large companies can still travel to luxurious resorts—and have a good time—while bettering the community that surrounds them. And they aren't simply cutting checks and ducking out to the nearest mai tai bar: These people are here to embrace culture and those in need, while squeezing in a little bit of camaraderie, too.

Impact4Good managing partner Alan Ranzer has organized team building events throughout not only most United States, but Jamaica, St. Thomas, Mexico, Canada and Latin America. Yet it was a recent program at Maui's Fairmont Kea Lani which brought nearly one hundred employees from a global computer corporation together with kids from a local charter school—that has Ranzer now fielding calls from nearly a dozen Hawaiian organizations that want to host similar events.

At the Kea Lani, top sales associates and programmers spent hours assembling solar-powered model cars, the parts of which they acquired through various challenges and team-related activities. In the final stages of the process, just before it came time to see who's cars proved supreme, kids from The Kihei Charter School arrived to partake in the fun.

"To be able to not only involve these kids from a Hawaiian charter school in to the program, but donate more solar kits to them, was a joy," said Ranzer. "Some of the schools we've worked with don't have enough funding to supply adequate books or desks. And here we were, able to connect one of the most successful computer companies in the world with local kids who have a genuine interest in solar technology, and then give them something to work with. It was pretty special."

In a similar vein, Ranzer recently led a larger group—over 200 corporate participants—in an exercise at Kapalua's Ritz-Carlton hotel. In the massive pavilion at the hotel's entrance, rewarded employees gathered to build the  popular solar cars as well. At the finale of this event, the organizers from the company were so enthralled with the experience of team-building exercises, the arrival of schoolchildren, and most likely the ambiance in West Maui—that they donated a number of laptops to the small school.

"It was like March Madness—we had brackets notating which teams were competing against others with their cars. We had live video feeds on giant screens so everyone could see the action. It was  a great environment, and the kids got really in to it," said Ranzer. "It's not uncommon for the directors from the companies to get so caught up in the moment that they donate checks or goods to the organizations that we brought in."

Another unique aspect to the Hawai`i programs, according to Ranzer, was the participation of staff at both Maui hotels. Ranzer commented on the various hotel employees that shared how common it was to see people coming in droves to Hawaii, and merely taking.

"Whether people are taking an experience, a lesson, a feeling or goods they have purchased, it was clear that Hawaii is a special place that is very giving to its visitors," added Ranzer. "Yet the staff pointed out how unique it was to have a program that was actually giving something back to the Hawaiian community."

Speaking via telephone with Ranzer, who was on the heels of a large-scale event taking place this week at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, N.Y., he shared another program himself and Impact4Good founder Ira Almeas often execute. It's called "Literacy Builders", and it aims to put books in schools. In one recent event that took place in Dallas, Texas, a large pharmaceutical company were put to work on building bookshelves for a charity called the Wilkinson Center, which aides at-risk youths. Prior to the event, Impact4Good had spoken with the organization and compiled a list of hundreds of books the students and teachers wished to have at their facility. When the 260 corporate employees were paired up with the 52 kids from the Center, each group picked their favorite books, and talked about what made them so special. The kids were then given the books to fill the bookshelves, and bring back with them to the Center.

"You've got these kids who, if they have homes, most likely don't receive that kind of attention in them," Ranzer said. "Yet here were successful adults, role models, talking about what books they liked to read when they were young, and asking these kids what characters they liked to read about. It was very meaningful for those kids, you could see it on their faces. We then invited the kids to stay for a banquet luncheon at the hotel. It was a great experience for everyone."

Ranzer spoke at length about other companies who's incentive programs he greatly respects. Among them, the Ritz Carlton's Ambassadors of the Environment, as well as Timberland's "Path of Service" program, which has received global recognition for it's community development.

"There has been data that shows offering these types of programs to employees builds loyalty. Loyal employees are less likely to leave a company, which can save corporations millions of dollars,  literally, in hiring and rehiring," added Ranzer.

Curtis Young, Director of Conference Services and Catering at the Fairmont Kea Lani mentioned that he is hoping to work out an ongoing program with Impact4Good.

"Our clients felt the team-building activity was not only fun and interesting, but also productive. We always prefer to partner with like-minded, conscientious companies that have made giving back to the local community a priorty," said Young.

You can read more about Impact4Good at www.impact4good.com.

"It was very meaningful for those kids, you could see it on their faces." —Alan Ranzer, Impact4Good