Exchange Matters / May 22, 2014

Letter from the President: Thank You to Our Hotel Partners

I am often astounded by the number of individuals and organizations that play a role in making the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program. It includes the U.S. Embassy staff in 150 countries who select and prepare the visitors, the hundreds of interpreters and English Language Officers who accompany the visitors on the program, and the 40,000 volunteers across the country who welcome visitors to their homes—not to mention the U.S. Department of State, community-based member, and national programming agency staff who bring it all together.

Each plays a role in creating a positive and authentic experience of American society and values. Some roles are more visible than others, and I often say that our hotel partners are one of those critical “behind the scenes” partners that play an important part in making our visitors feel welcome, comfortable, and “at home.”

Many of them go above and beyond to wholeheartedly embrace the role of citizen diplomat.

I want to take the opportunity to thank our hotel partners for all that they do to contribute to our mission of creating a more peaceful, prosperous world through international exchanges. Many of them go above and beyond to wholeheartedly embrace the role of citizen diplomat. Global Ties U.S. works directly with over 20 hotels in Washington, DC and over 15 in New York City to ensure IVLP participants’ needs are met. In addition, our community-based member organizations work with hundreds of hotel partners across the country, utilizing over 85,000 room nights per year, approximately 28,000 of which are in Washington, DC alone. In addition to opening their doors to visitors, hotels also contribute over $550,000 in philanthropic support to members across the country to support their programs.

Though it may sometimes not seem like it, our hotel partners really are on the front lines of public diplomacy efforts. I want to share a couple of examples of the lengths that our hotel partners go to help make our visitors’ experiences exceptional. Often it is the little touches that make a big difference.

One partner in Washington, DC personally greets IVLP participants upon check-in. The hotel has both the Global Ties U.S. and IVLP logo on all the key cards distributed to visitors so that the staff can identify which guests are part of the IVLP group. There is a special memo for hotel staff that includes all agreement details and provides reminders for staff to ensure that IVLP visitors are treated exactly as outlined in the agreement.

Other hotel partners make a concerted effort to hire guest service managers that speak multiple languages to reduce language barriers and make a concerted effort to upgrade English Language Officers and interpreters if possible. Some provide complementary welcome receptions with special coffee and tea service for the IVLP participants. Many include a nice welcome note with chocolates, nuts, and pens.

Our hotel partners really are on the front lines of public diplomacy efforts.

Over the course of the past year, Global Ties U.S. has been working with hotels to ensure that there are adequate accommodations for individuals with disabilities and many have been extremely cooperative.

We ask a lot of our hotel partners—whether it is special concessions, breakfast to be included, complimentary meeting room space, or flexibility in changing itineraries, sometimes at the last moment—and their dedication to providing the best experience possible is part of what makes the program a success.

As the summer peak tourism season begins, we realize the IVLP is one of many clients competing for space and attention. Please join Global Ties U.S. as we reach out and thank our hotel partners for their continued commitment to providing the highest levels of service to help us achieve our long-term mission of building a more peaceful, prosperous world through international exchange programs.


By: Jennifer Clinton, PhD, President, Global Ties U.S.