IHG Hotels and Resorts CEO, EMEAA, Kenneth Macpherson

The new year brings fresh hope within our industry, after the toughest 12 months imaginable for our hotels, owners, guests and colleagues.

This sense of optimism comes, of course, in the form of the COVID-19 vaccines. They are the light at the end of the tunnel and, when administered at scale, will be the key to easing the travel restrictions which have impacted us all so greatly.

We know a recovery will be gradual so, for the time being, we remain heavily focused on domestic business. But vaccines will eventually lead to more borders opening between countries and then we will be a giant step closer to international travel returning.

I am confident people will embrace the opportunity to travel again as soon as they possibly can, and in the meantime, our industry must continue to improve the stay experience against the context of the evolving pandemic. Maintaining the highest standards of hygiene
and cleanliness, enriching what is offered digitally, and ensuring each stay meets a guest’s expectations will remain key throughout the year ahead.

IHG operates under its Way of Clean protocols to maintain the highest possible hygiene standards.

Despite the crisis, we’ve continued to grow our business in Australasia and are anticipating an even stronger 2021. I have been particularly heartened by the performance of two of our brands – Crowne Plaza – and voco, where the number of hotels signed, its strength in the domestic leisure market, and its financial performance really shone.

In the current environment, hotel conversions will remain a strong theme, and it’s something we’re experiencing throughout our portfolio as some fantastic properties join IHG. It has been encouraging to see the confidence owners hold in our brands, and their willingness to invest in new deals and existing properties. Mulpha’s renovation of InterContinental Sydney is one in particular that we’re all excited to see.

InterContinental Sydney is in the process of building new rooms and a vibrant new Grand Ballroom.

While it’s great to talk about our beautiful hotels, they don’t run themselves and when people ask me what our greatest asset is, my answer is – without fail – our hotel colleagues; the incredible individuals who have performed so tirelessly over the past year. These great people need and deserve our support as they gear up for the different stages of recovery, and we’ll provide it in what will continue to be a real team effort between our stakeholders.

It’s with this spirit of collaboration in mind that I want to take the opportunity to thank the Australian Federal, State and Territory governments for the support they have provided to the tourism industry throughout the pandemic and mention the Accommodation Association and Tourism and Transport Forum – both of which have been invaluable in helping our industry get through this.

It has been a real example of how working together can help us succeed in difficult times. There is much reason for optimism. On a personal level, I cannot wait to return to Australia, reconnect with owners face-to-face, and spend time with our teams as soon as it’s possible to do so. I’ve missed your wonderful country and the chance to catch up with so many friends and colleagues in person, rather than virtually. That moment can’t come soon enough.