Company: Creative Lodging Solutions, Lexington, KY USA
Nomination Category: Employer of the Year - Hospitality & Leisure
Employer of the Year Essay:
Creative Lodging Solutions (CLS) is a travel management company that specializes in providing customized lodging programs for business travelers. CLS assists clients with lodging expense control, travel policy adherence, and consolidated billing while offering negotiated rates for hotel reservations and corporate housing. They’ve reserved over 13 million traveler nights and counting. CLS’ award-winning company culture has been recognized seven times as one of the Best Places to Work in Kentucky by the Best Companies Group.
In 2016, CLS increased its client base by 21% after expanding into new 68,000 square foot offices following a $5.2M re-fit the previous fall. They also made the move to a casual dress code policy. The new office provided room to add more jobs, larger employee cafés, additional meeting spaces, and an expanded training computer lab.
The modern facilities include a gym that’s open 24 hours to all employees and their trainers, complete with showers, lockers, and changing rooms. The new office was strategically located on an outdoor walking track. Participants in the company’s annual Biggest Loser fitness challenge may utilize the gym and walking track as they compete for prizes.
CLS’ culture committee works tirelessly to cultivate the same small company atmosphere that the company has always enjoyed. They plan both on-site and off-site events such as the family-friendly annual company picnic and holiday party. Catered lunches, contests with prizes, and team outings are also organized throughout the year. Birthdays and work anniversaries are celebrated by spinning a wheel for prizes.
Quarterly State of the Company meetings are held to communicate company goals and plans for future growth along with discussing the progress being made toward these objectives. The meetings provide transparency as the CEO, CFO, and leadership team disclose organization information. Employees may participate in various games and giveaways before and after the meeting. The leadership team also implemented a lunch and learn series this year for all employees to explore a different concept each month on improving the business.
Employees may nominate their coworkers for CLS’ Rock Star Awards. This program recognizes top performers with monthly award presentations by the leadership team including a trophy and gift card along with an announcement in the employee newsletter and on social media. Milestone work anniversaries are also recognized during this time and accompanied by bonuses.
CLS offers employee career development training including leadership development for newly promoted managers which include emotional intelligence training and ongoing coaching.
Companywide employee engagement improved significantly and employee retention rose 14% in 2016.
Last year, Chief Culture and Development Officer Carolyn Hundley began providing leadership coaching for 15 employees ranging from the supervisor to VP level. She was recently named the Mentor or Coach of the Year Gold Winner at the 2017 Women in Business World Awards.
Creative Lodging Solutions’ intensive 3-week new hire training program was selected by Travel Weekly as a 2015 Magellan Award Winner. New employee mixers are scheduled at the end of each new hire training class and the entire company is invited to meet new team members over snacks and certificate presentations.
Giving back to the community is an important part of CLS’ vison and culture. Employees receive one week of paid community service time as part of their benefits package and are encouraged to serve with the non-profits of their choice. In 2016, the organization also contributed an additional $59,000 to local causes.
Creative Lodging Solutions was named the Company of Year Gold Winner at the 2016 Golden Bridge Awards. They’ve also been named to the Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces List by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption five times and named to the Inc. 5000 List of the most entrepreneurial and fastest growing companies for seven years.
Employer of the Year Summary
-Monthly employee recognition CLS Rock Star Awards program
-Career development and leadership development training and coaching
-On-site gym facility open 24 hrs and outdoor walking track
-1 week of paid Community Service time included in benefits package
-Celebrate employee birthdays and work anniversaries
-Employee events throughout the year including holiday contests with prizes, games with prizes, catered lunches, team outings, new hire mixers, etc.
-After hours annual holiday party and summer picnic for employees and their families
-Other benefits include adoption assistance, tuition reimbursement, Christmas Club with additional bonus at payout, 401K with company match, and an interest free emergency loan program
-Quarterly State of the Company employee meetings
-Monthly lunch and learn series