Behind The Brand: Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG)

Michelle Dias

Name: Michelle Dias

Position: Marketing Manager, Public Relations & Communications

Education: Media, Information and Technoculture (MIT), Minor in Philosophy & Writing Certificate, Western University; Corporate Communications, Sheridan College

Professional role model: Sheryl Sandberg. She is the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, an author and the “Lean In” activist. In learning about Sheryl, I see many parallels in her bold personality and ambition with myself. Her drive, work ethic and message of advocating for one’s self are traits that I have adopted in my own career.

In 140 characters or less, what is your favourite part of your job? 

Working with passionate hoteliers from across Canada to promote IHG’s brands. The hospitality industry is always open; it’s very exciting.

What are your daily responsibilities? 

My goal at the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is to promote our Canadian properties through creative marketing, public relations and social media campaigns. I work with a very talented corporate team across the globe and various agencies to tell the IHG story of: outstanding hospitality, marquee brands and Great Hotels Guests Love.

Which tools or software do you use at work? 

One of our primary goals with social media is to engage in meaningful conversations with our online IHG communities. To do this, we use various applications which allow listening and two-way communication. We use Sprinklr to schedule content on social channels, we use BuzzStream to reach out to bloggers and influencers and to grow our SEO ranking. My favourite tool is Bazaarvoice, which allows us to view guests’ social posts if they tag our properties. We then use guests’ posts to build social campaigns (user generated content) – sharing their awesome photography from the hotel’s restaurant, pool or tourist shots.

How did agency life prepare you to work client-side? 

My role at IHG is like an agency. Hotels, owners, and the general Canadian audience are my clients. I am always working on several different campaigns at once, from internal communications strategy to national PR campaigns; my role is all-encompassing. My previous experience has taught me that integrated marketing tactics are key to success.

What makes IHG hotels ideal destinations for travellers? 

IHG is one of the world’s leading hotel companies – we have 5,000 hotels in nearly 100 countries around the world – operating 13 notable brands such as Holiday Inn Express®, renowned for their free breakfast. Our broad brand portfolio allows us to cater to every type of traveller and every hospitality need. If you are looking for discreet luxury we have InterContinental®, for the family on a road trip – Holiday Inn® and for corporate meeting spaces and the long-term business traveler, we have Staybridge Suites®.

What is your most memorable experience at IHG? 

This month we hosted our annual Sales Leadership Conference at the InterContinental Toronto Centre. We saw a record attendance at the conference, and I got to meet hoteliers from across the country and exchanged ideas on regional marketing strategy. The highlight was sharing the stage with IHG’s COO Jolyon Bulley as I delivered my marketing presentation. The cherry on the top was staying in the Presidential Suite during the conference, a 2,000 square foot apartment, which President Barack Obama has stayed in.

What are the perks of working at IHG? 

I get to work closely with brilliant marketers across the world, we have unique educational opportunities via Harvard Business, plus I get to travel frequently – this quarter alone I’ve gone to Edmonton, Toronto, Atlanta and Ottawa. But the best ‘personal’ perk, and the one I get asked the most about is discount hotel rooms! It’s a great perk, especially for someone like me who has the travel bug!

What do you like about working in the travel industry as a marketer?

To me, travelling is the best way to learn and grow. Travelling expands our knowledge of history, culture, economies – really all facets of life. Because travel interests all demographics of people, and because there are so many stories to tell it makes it my role as a marketer both challenging and exciting.

How do you think Canada’s travel industry will continue to evolve? 

I think technology will continue to play a huge part in travel. At IHG, we are seeing growth in reservations being made via our mobile app vs. online. Consumers are savvy now and will continue to rely on online reviews and social rankings before making a purchasing decision. I think the role of travel and hospitality marketers will evolve to bridge a tighter relationship with guests and brands. Guests will want to be a part of the hotel experience and will look for customized attention at the hotel level.

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