IHG and Shelter in a Storm

Shelter in a Storm activates in disaster struck regions.

Shelter in a Storm activates in disaster struck regions.

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) was one of the chains affected during the 2004 tsunami, and with over 4,700 properties around the world, when disaster strikes it’s likely that one of their hotels won’t be far from the affected area.

Recognising that people are naturally drawn to hotels in difficult times, in 2011 the company developed its disaster relief programme, IHG Shelter in a Storm, to guide its hotels as to the best way to respond in the event of a local crisis.

In an interview last year with Green Hotelier, Chief Executive for Europe Angela Brav explained, “Shelter in a Storm builds on the fact that in any community, people naturally turn to a hotel for shelter, safety, guidance and support in times of crisis.”

The company believes this to be a key role of hotels in society, and one that is really important to all the communities in which they operate.

Brav said, “All through the year people from our hotels and corporate offices around the world raise money for the IHG Shelter Fund. These funds can then be released at a moment’s notice through Shelter in a Storm, allowing us to respond quickly on the ground when disaster strikes.”

In 2014 alone, IHG responded to 18 disasters in 9 countries, supporting over 500 impacted staff colleagues.

IHG’s strategic partnership with CARE is a vital part of the programme. CARE ensures that help is directed to exactly where it is needed and IHG draws on CARE’s expertise in humanitarian assistance, using its infrastructure to channel funds to local communities. If a disaster strikes where CARE are not responding on the ground, IHG seeks its guidance on the best local partners to use to ensure help still reaches those places it is needed most.

IHG case study

In May 2014, unseasonably heavy rains swept through Taba in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula causing severe flooding that shut down the border between Egypt and Israel. InterContinental Resort Taba Heights was inundated with water and mud on its lower floors.

While no guests nor staff were injured during the flooding, over 250 staff living on-property lost all their personal belongings when their living spaces were submerged under the water left by the floods.

To support them, IHG activated Shelter in a Storm to assist with relief efforts. This enabled them to provide staff with vital supplies and the basic necessities they needed.

Colleagues living quarters were devastated.

Colleagues living quarters were devastated.


Deploying around the world

IHG Shelter in a Storm has been activated in a range of countries around the world. In 2012 it supported 10 disasters in six countries including Hurricane Sandy in the USA and in 2013 it assisted in fifteen disasters in eight countries including supporting those affected by flooding in the UK.

Every September IHG undertakes a week-long global awareness and fundraising event - Race Around the World - to boost engagement with IHG Shelter in a Storm during which thousands of global staff undertake sponsored activities and encourage guests to donate.

For IHG having a week devoted to raising awareness of the programme has multiple benefits. It brings a sense of community spirit among the largely franchised hotel properties and drives a greater engagement of staff. They understand the relevance and the importance of Shelter in a Storm and see it as a way of being there for their neighbours. They see it helps to support the communities in which they’re based.

Speaking with Green Hotelier last year Kate Gibson, IHG’s vice president of corporate responsibility said, “Globally we have over 4,700 hotels and they are tied to the communities in which they’re located. As a company we are both hyperglobal and hyperlocal. We’re employing local people, we’re buying from local markets and we are important to the health and resilience of the community.

“IHG Shelter in a Storm is an opportunity for IHG to be proactive and reach out, and people never forget that. We have helped employees who can’t go home or who have lost the contents of their fridge. We were there during the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011, and we were in New Zealand following the Christchurch earthquake.

“Our more than 350,000 colleagues value the programme. They feel connected to IHG and they feel a sense of pride in what they’re helping us to achieve. That helps them deliver greater service to our guests.

“Working around Shelter in a Storm is one of the favourite parts of my job. Reading the emails I get from people across the globe is an unanticipated bonus of the programme. And as the climate changes it is becoming increasingly relevant. During our annual week of fundraising I think people realise that the dollars raised may end up coming back to help them, and that drives them on. In 2014, 63,000 people took part across 71 countries. The week creates a real buzz around the company and it is fundamental to who we are.

“And I think that our guests really get it. When people see a company using their particular skills to benefit people, there’s a real resonance.”

Shelter in a Storm is one of the three pillars that form IHG’s corporate responsibility operation, running alongside their environmental programme IHG Green Engage system, and their community-based apprenticeship programme IHG Academy. It is understandably a source of great pride in the company and continues to assist people around the world whenever disaster creates a need.

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