This month’s CLC Lodging Employee Spotlight heads up our Emergency Lodging Services (ELS). Matt Rogers has been with CLC since 2005 and has been an integral figure in helping reserve immediate lodging for large groups of people all over the United States in emergency situations.
Here he shares with us what his department does, how it differentiates from typical CLC Lodging solutions, and even some memorable interactions with the White House!
You’ve been with CLC for 18 years this year. What keeps you motivated and inspired?
The type of work I do fills me with a sense of pride. Not only knowing that we help people but knowing that we've done a good job in what we were trained to do. All our team members feel this way. There are very few people in the world that are in our line of work and do what we do. For 18 years, we've led the industry and helped the United States’ largest survivor assistance agencies in helping people impacted by a natural disaster or emergency.
We're making a huge impact on American citizens' lives, who have just gone through one of the most devastating times they may ever face. It creates many distressing challenges for them, but the biggest one is to find an immediate place to stay that is safe for them and their families–somewhere to temporarily call home. That's where CLC’s ELS division comes in.
Has ELS developed anything new and exciting this year?
We just launched a brand-new platform in March called "Connex" for our first responder clients.
To create Connex, we worked in partnership with our customers and internally discussed lessons we've learned from past events. Connex is now a Rapid Response online system with new features and capabilities that has a lot more bells and whistles for our customers. It gives them more information right at their fingertips. They have the capability of entering new requests or communicating with our agents virtually. They can see all the reservations they've made, in addition to being provided an overall visibility of costs from the room reservations they booked. Moreover, making modifications to the room bookings is now incredibly easy for agencies and groups. We've seen a lot of success and we're excited for new clients to be able to use it.
How is ELS (Emergency Lodging Services) different from typical CLC solutions?
The biggest way we're different is that most of the time, we're not just booking for individual room reservations or booking regular business travel clients working their day-to-day, 9-5 work schedule.
Most of our emergency lodging reservations are for a large group of people, headed to a devastated geographical area to help with the recovery process. Or it could be a group of employees from a utility company going to restore power so the recovery process can begin. It could even be groups of people who were devastated the most and lost their home. These groups of people need to get somewhere in a hurry, and they need immediate room reservations because their current place they stay is uninhabitable.
What’s changing in the industry?
There is a lot changing in the industry in my opinion. The largest two trends in emergency lodging are:
- Hotels, like many businesses, are still struggling to be fully staffed and find personnel. This ultimately has an impact on the guest, as standard services are no longer available like regular room cleaning or fresh linens and towels.
- Nightly hotel rates are fluctuating. The trend is mostly showing the Daily Average Rate (DAR) is going up.
What are the typical industries that utilize CLC’s ELS offerings and why?
Our primary industries are utility companies for restoration following a disaster, non-profit organizations who head to the affected area to assist in the recovery, and federal agencies who send staff to the affected area. One of the largest clients as a group is the survivors of the disaster who are receiving assistance from the United States’ largest survivor assistance agency.
How would you prepare a new employee working in ELS?
Our training is extensive. The best piece of advice for preparedness is to ensure they understand that the job can and will be very stressful from time to time, but to keep in mind how much of an impact their work and effort will have on a survivor's life and ability to recover.
What is something important that you’ve learned while working at CLC?
Just when you think you’ve seen or done it all…
Do you have a success story or something you are proud to share?
CLC’s Emergency Lodging Assistance program was established in 2007, and the number of families and survivors who have benefited our program is something we are extremely proud of.
In 2023, the emergency programs we operate for the General Services Administration (GSA) (which is open to any federal or state agency) were recognized as “Best in Class” by the Office of Management and Budget for the White House. It’s an incredibly distinguished honor to be recognized and we are proud of all the hard work that the teams within CLC’s emergency division have put in.
Do you have any memorable stories you’d like to share about your time at CLC?
One of the coolest things about my job is that my phone will ring from time to time, and it will be a call from the White House. Many years ago, in the middle of the night, I got a call from one of our assistance agencies. They had a pressing matter they needed my immediate help with. During a former president’s campaign stop, he was shaking hands with citizens who attended his campaign stop and there was a woman in tears who met with him. She informed the President that she had lost her home in a recent storm in the area and had nowhere to go. She had been living in her vehicle. There was an emergency assistance effort going on in that area and a phone call was made from the President’s staff to the emergency assistance agency we partner with. That late night phone call spurred me into action to find a hotel and begin getting her assistance. Less than two hours later, we had her checked into a hotel room and safe. About two days later I got copied on an email from our emergency assistance agency with a message saying, “The President thanks you for your attention and care for this matter.” That was a memorable one!
Interested in learning more about CLC’s Emergency Lodging Services?
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