ITM Hospitality Fund Creator Using
Barter To Help Those In Need
Years ago I met Jody Merl at an IRTA
convention. She was a panelist on hotel trading, and her knowledge
on the subject was most enlightening. Ms. Merl has impressively
taken another step in helping others through an effort that aids the
less fortunate, and I�d like to share her story with you. It shows
another side of barter that many people don�t realize exists.
As president of Innovative Travel Marketing (ITM),
the nation�s leading hotel barter company, Jody Merl knows the
formula for barter is a simple one: the exchange of unsold rooms for
media placements and other services, expanding advertising budgets
and getting maximum value for inventory that would otherwise go
The idea that spurred Merl to co-found the ITM
Hospitality Fund in February 2002, however, was even simpler to
her�using barter to help the less fortunate. With that goal in mind,
Merl considered her hotel rooms and how they could best serve those
Realizing that thousands of critically ill
people travel to New York City each year for urgent medical
treatment, Merl recognized that ITM�s excess inventory of hotel
rooms could greatly benefit �healthcare travelers� who are unable to
afford accommodations for themselves or their loved ones.
�New York City is a medical capital, home to
many of the world�s leading specialists and facilities,� says Merl.
�For thousands of individuals, this city offers specialized care
that is literally life saving.�
Working in partnership with more than a dozen
hospitals, medical centers and medical societies, the ITM
Hospitality Fund is the only citywide program of its kind in the
U.S. It has so far provided more than 300 patients and their loved
ones with a haven in New York City during a stressful and difficult
time in their lives.
Led by Merl, and supported by advisory boards
of eminent physicians and healthcare and business leaders, the Fund
is a noteworthy example of a community�s high-achievers working
together to achieve a common humanitarian goal.
By making first-class hotel rooms available to
those who could otherwise not afford them (Fund beneficiaries only
pay room taxes), the ITM Hospitality Fund reduces expenses and
encourages the presence of a patient�s family at a time when they
are needed most.
�We pamper families who are in a very fragile
state with the convenience and comfort of hotel rooms in their time
of need,� says Merl. �It is an enormous help to minimize their
emotional toll and expenses of travel.�
Patients are referred to the ITM Hospitality
Fund through participating medical facilities. Once a referral is
made, Merl scopes and coordinates accommodations at ITM client
hotels, with regard to the most convenient location for the patient
Beneficiaries are chosen based primarily on
financial need, with geographical distance from New York also a
Describing her founding of the Fund as one of
her proudest accomplishments, Merl says, �The ITM Hospitality Fund
captures the true philanthropic spirit of New York City. We feel
blessed to be able to make a difference in the lives of these
patients and their loved ones.�
The ITM Hospitality Fund was recognized with a
HSMAI Golden Bell Award for Community Service in 2004, and as
founder, Merl was named �New Yorker of the Week� by leading
cable-news affiliate New York 1 News.
For more information on the ITM Hospitality
www.itmhospitalityfund.com, or call (973) 331-8171.