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Alumni Q&A: Bringing brand values to life

Alumni Q&A: Bringing brand values to life

08 Dec 2013 by: Alex Evans, Programme Director, National Business Awards

The NBA talks to IHG about how it has engaged customers, staff and communities in its brand values 

Last month, the NBA explored the impact of Corporate Citizenship on the bottom line. This month, as part of a focus on excellence in employee engagement, the NBA talked to Matthew Luscombe, Chief Commercial Officer & SVP Franchise Operations at IHG Europe, about how it has increased customers and staff engagement through responsible business...
 
NBA: IHG was shortlisted as a finalist for the FTSE 100 Business of the Year in 2012 for its impressive commercial performance but also for its BrandHearted initiative. Briefly, how has it helped IHG to boost customer and staff engagement?
 
ML: Guests don’t see our business model when they stay with us; they see our brands and our people. So a huge part of being BrandHearted is to ensure that all of our staff think, feel and talk about brands in the same way – a  joined up approach from head office to the hotels. 
 
NBA: How have you embedded this approach across IHG and how does it align with your corporate citizenship objectives?
 
ML: We treat Corporate Responsibility as a strategic business priority , believing CR only makes sense if it aligns to our vision of becoming one of the world's great companies by creating ‘Great Hotels Guests Love’.
 
Employee engagement and training are essential to achieving our objectives. We have a classroom based training programme called Green Aware, which is focused on introducing colleagues to IHG's approach to Corporate Responsibility and to some of our key tools such as Green Engage, the Innovation Hotel and the CR report. In 2011, almost 200 employees took part in our green training across the Americas and Europe through workshops and virtual instruction. Since the training began in 2008, over 1,250 participants in total have gone through green training at IHG. Responsible Business is included as a key performance objective for all staff performance reviews.
 
Leading by example in our offices is an effective way of showing our hotels that using Green Engage can help them to reduce energy and costs. To do this, we set up a Green Team in our global headquarters in Denham UK with volunteers from most departments. The Green Team uses Green Engage to track and report on energy, waste and water. Denham has a Cycle 2 Work scheme which had a high up-take from launch in 2012. Green Team members act as green ambassadors and help raise awareness of CR at IHG, along with our key programmes.
 
NBA: A key part of Corporate Citizenship is working with local communities. How is this helping IHG to find and develop talent?  
 
ML: The IHG Academy is a collaboration between individual IHG hotels, or corporate offices, and education providers and/or community organisations. It gives local people the opportunity to develop skills and improve their employment prospects in one of the world’s largest hotel companies. It also ensures we have a pool of skilled, motivated and engaged people to work in our hotels, who will provide a consistently great experience for our guests.
 
Within a global framework, each IHG Academy is unique to ensure the training meets the needs of local communities as well as hotels around the world. Nonetheless, all IHG Academy programmes have three things in common: they operate together with local community organisations and/or education providers; they include a work experience placement, giving participants skills and real experience of working in a hotel; and they include performance feedback and a recruitment discussion to improve their chances of finding a job in the hotel sector or in one of our hotels.
 
We currently have over 150 IHG Academy programmes in 37 countries around the world. Participants of an IHG Academy come from all walks of life, ranging from university graduates through to disadvantaged young people. 
 
IHG is part of the NBA Alumni and Official Hotels Partner for the National Business Awards in 2013. The company has just launched their new product, Business Advantage. Designed with small and medium-sized businesses in mind, it provides  a free and easy way to organise, book, and pay for hotel accommodation when staying at any IHG property. It also offers preferential rates at more than 300 IHG hotels across the UK located in convenient destinations for the business traveller. www.businessadvantage.ihg.com
 
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