Expert’s Voice: IHG commits to building a brighter future

by | 02 Apr 2021 | Expert's Voice, Experts

IHG’s boss, Keith Barr, wants his company to be a greater force for good in the years ahead

Keith Barr, CEO of IHG, has published an open letter setting out the British hotel giant’s promise to operate thoughtfully and grow sustainably.

Now, perhaps more than ever, it’s really important that we think about how our actions affect others and the world around us. I am inspired on a daily basis by stories of people caring for loved ones, helping those in need and striving to do the right thing in their communities and beyond in the face of the global pandemic.

I believe that behaving this way is not just the duty of individuals, but it should also be ingrained into the fabric of how all businesses operate. At IHG Hotels & Resorts, I know that our colleagues, guests, hotel owners, suppliers and investors feel the same way.

They want to see us and other organisations drive change and to think about how we define success in the context of social and environmental responsibilities, alongside growth and profitability. Whether it’s how organisations stand up for diversity, equity and inclusion, and human rights, contribute towards positive social and economic change, or make better environmental choices – those actions matter.

The response to Covid19 from organisations around the world has shown what can be achieved when the mind is focused on using expertise, resources and compassion for the greater good – from record-breaking vaccine developments and food banks for millions, to temporary hospitals and accommodation for frontline workers and the homeless, the list goes on. I’m proud of how IHG and others in hospitality have contributed so meaningfully to some of those efforts, even in such incredibly difficult times for our industry.

As a company, we’ve given great thought to how we can retain that proactive force for good on a far wider scale in our everyday business, and strengthen our commitment to make sure we do what’s right, not just what’s needed. It’s why I’m so proud to see us launch Journey to Tomorrow, our new set of ambitions to drive change for our people, communities and planet over the next decade.

We’ve already made important achievements in these areas over many years, but this is a longer term roadmap, which will challenge us to deliver on new ambitions, including how we continue to promote wellbeing in the workplace, champion an inclusive culture, and advance human rights.

In our communities, we will seize opportunities to improve millions of lives, whether through supporting disaster-relief efforts, tackling food poverty, or by providing skills training that drives social and economic change. And for our planet, we will work with every one of our hotels to reduce carbon emissions in line with climate science, eliminate single-use items or move to reusable/recyclable alternatives, reduce food waste, and collaborate locally to reduce water stress in high-risk areas.

This is what our purpose of True Hospitality for Good means to us, and we can see that our guests feel the same. A recent IHG survey showed more than 80% of consumers think it’s important to choose a hotel brand that operates in the right way, and almost 60% care more now about doing their bit for local communities and the planet while travelling than they did ten years ago.

We care as much about operating thoughtfully and growing sustainably, as we do about the guest experience in our hotels. That’s why our Journey to Tomorrow plan ties in closely to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which offers a blueprint to organisations globally to contribute toward a better and more sustainable future for us all by 2030.

We want every IHG stakeholder – our guests, colleagues, owners, partners, investors, communities – to see that we’re on a journey to be successful in every sense of the word. I believe how we grow as a company, and work to be a greater force for good, are inextricably linked.

So, we are empowering our colleagues, and working with our hotel owners and industry to help shape the future of responsible travel. It’s never been more crucial that we do.

This is an edited version of an article that appeared on the IHG website.

Keith Barr
Keith Barr


Keith Barr has been CEO of IHG since July 2017. He’s responsible for implementing IHG’s strategy for high-quality growth and generating industry-leading value creation for hotel owners, operators and shareholders.

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