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Why Kimpton Is Offering Free Mental Health Services to Business Travelers

The hospitality brand's new partnership with online therapy Talkspace acknowledges the stresses business travelers and front-line workers have faced over the last two years.

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Kimpton Armory Hotel Bozeman, Kimpton x Talkspace Partnership
The Kimpton Armory Hotel Bozeman in Montana is one of the 60-plus U.S. hotels offering free Talkspace subscriptions to workers and guests.
Photo: Courtesy of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

If there’s a silver lining to the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that companies have been taking a closer look at their employees’ mental health. In the event and hospitality world in particular, mental health has been a hot topic of conversation in the wellness space, and planners and event hosts are increasingly building in breaks for attendees to reset and recharge emotionally, rather than just physically.

One major hospitality brand taking notice is Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. In late February, the brand announced a new, first-of-its-kind partnership with online therapy company Talkspace. The goal? To bring accessible mental health support to both Kimpton guests and employees.

Beginning on Feb. 23, Kimpton began distributing 1,000 complimentary video therapy sessions with licensed counselors, available to any guest staying at one of the brand’s 60-plus participating properties. The sessions are available on a first-come, first-served basis to guests who email [email protected]. Once all free sessions are redeemed, all future Kimpton guests have the option to receive a $100 discount on a TalkSpace plan.

But the brand isn't stopping there. To acknowledge the hardships its employees—many of whom served as front-line workers—have faced during the pandemic, Kimpton is offering a yearlong, complimentary Talkspace subscription to all of its 4,000-plus U.S. employees. 

Here, BizBash caught up with Kathleen Reidenbach, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants' chief commercial officer, to discuss the new TalkSpace partnership, hear the advice she'd give other hospitality companies and get a sneak peek at the brand's newest offerings for event and meeting planners.

Why was it important to Kimpton to offer a service like this to both hotel guests and employees?
Mental health has always been an issue that is important to Kimpton. Our founder, Bill Kimpton, openly discussed his struggles with mental health, which inspired our focus on human connection and heartfelt care at our properties. We saw the toll the pandemic has had on people, and we wanted to step up to ensure we’re providing Kimpton employees and travelers with the mental health services and support they need in approachable and accessible ways. 

We know that travelers are facing more stress and anxiety than ever on the road—whether it’s the stress before your first in-person business meeting since the pandemic began, or the anxieties that arise on family vacations. We want to be sure we are encouraging our guests to prioritize their mental health. 

Beyond serving our guests, it was incredibly important for us to offer additional mental health benefits to our 4,000-plus employees. Employees in the hospitality industry have been pushed to their limit during the pandemic. And even today, they continue to work on the front lines and combat added challenges. We know our employees could use extra support to help them manage both their personal and professional responsibilities—so with this Talkspace partnership, we are extending a yearlong complimentary Talkspace subscription to all eligible employees.

A lot of hospitality companies are struggling with workers’ mental health due to the pandemic. How do you hope this helps your team improve their work-life balance?
The pandemic has absolutely taken a toll on the entire world, especially those who have been working on the front lines. We know hospitality workers across the country are feeling the strain—and that certainly applies to our people. We’re so proud that we’re able to extend this benefit to our employees, and we hope that others within the industry consider taking similar steps.

Having access to therapy on the go and from a mobile phone is important to our employees who are juggling personal lives and busy work schedules. We believe in meeting people where they are as part of our culture of heartfelt care, and this Talkspace benefit is just one step we are taking to show how much we care about our people.

Is there any advice you’d give other hospitality companies on the importance of recognizing the work your team has done over the past two years, and supporting them—particularly in the area of mental health?
Now more than ever, mental health needs to be more than an area of focus in the hospitality industry—[it needs to be] a priority. Listening to the needs of your employees as we continue to navigate today’s world will be crucial to employee hiring and retention, and to creating an atmosphere where each person can show up as their best self to work. 

At BizBash, we’ve seen a big focus on mental health lately when it comes to wellness during meetings and business travel. Do you also see this as a growing trend?
Wellness is much bigger than healthy food and in-room yoga mats. We’re focused on addressing all the unique needs of our guests—specifically those needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic. With the return to travel and meetings and events, we understand that our guests have new concerns and stresses that need to be addressed while they are on the road. 

Flexibility and personalization are going to be more important than ever and so, this week, Kimpton launched a new M+E campaign at all Kimpton properties called No Ordinary Agenda that allows event coordinators to create an itinerary unique to each group. This offering serves to deliver uncapped inspiration and possibility for the event planner looking to gather their group in person again. Whether it’s a smaller, intimate meeting or a big, celebratory event or conference, we have the inspired spaces, creative food and beverage and engaging experiences to turn any vision into a reality. We know people have been craving in-person experiences, and we are ready to help bring people together to connect in meaningful ways. 

Kimpton has always placed a focus on creating a warm and welcoming environment for all employees and guests. This commitment has taken many forms and shapes over the years, including long-standing partnerships with groups committed to mental health like the Trevor Project and now, Talkspace.

Click here to learn more about the Kimpton and Talkspace partnership. 

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