Case study: InterContinental Hotels Group

If a corporate website is all about telling a company’s story, then there is one great omission from the site of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) – its sponsorship of the 2012 Olympics. The company’s Holiday Inn brand is the official hotel of the London Games, but with the notoriously stringent rules about using Olympic branding to promote services, IHG can’t actually boast about the fact on its corporate site.

Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn is a ‘tier three’ official provider to the London organising committee, Locog, and while that brand can make use of its status in UK marketing, it isn’t something that IHG can cite in its international corporate communications. That, however, hasn’t stopped Radley Yeldar recognising its website as the third best of the FTSE 100’s.

IHG gets particular praise for being timely and topical in the information it makes available through ihgplc.com. Like many corporate sites, it includes regularly updated news and links to its financial reports, but also more in-depth content directed at investors, media and employees around the world.

The company is also trying to increase awareness of its corporate brand among consumers, currently more acquainted with the consumer brands of its resorts, such as InterContinental and Crowne Plaza.

“There is a benefit to people understanding the portfolio of the brands,” says global external communications director Kari Kerr. This is especially true as IHG adds more country-specific hotel brands. Two new brands – Hualuxe in China and Even Hotels in the US – were recently launched with prominent stories featured on the corporate site.

To some extent, there is already a level of integration between the communications strategies of its consumer and corporate brands, with one community of staff working across all IHG’s digital channels. Community managers for each individual hotel brand are quick to direct enquiries or comments relevant to the IHG corporate brand to the group communications team, Kerr says.

The corporate components of the wider IHG digital community stretch to social media sites, which are linked to from the main website. Those accounts take a slightly different tone of voice. Tweets will not simply be replications or promotions of press releases. Instead, Kerr says that they will usually try to “find a different angle”.

Even with the size of IHG’s consumer-facing hotel operations, a team of just three people monitors conversations going on in digital media from IHG’s global headquarters in Buckinghamshire. Their shifts are staggered to ensure that someone watches the wires seven days a week.

“If there is a negative story breaking, we can respond instantly,” says Kerr. “We have had a couple of instances where we have done that.”

She cites a 2011 terrorist attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, which is not part of IHG. The corporate communications team took to social media sites to let analysts and media know that the hotel affected was not one of the company’s properties.

This was an example of connected corporate communications being vital to preserving the brand’s reputation.

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