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Let's decarbonise one million hotel rooms! Keith Barr, CEO of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)

Keith Barr, CEO of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)

Keith Barr, CEO of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), joins Alberto Lidji to discuss how they’re improving and innovating to become more sustainable.

With a presence in more than 100 countries, IHG has 6,000+ hotels, employs 350,000 staff and caters to many segments across 17 brands, from Holiday Inn to Crowne Plaza, InterContinental and Six Senses. They recognise the tremendous opportunity to drive positive change.

We learn what Keith and his team are doing to reduce their carbon footprint, improve operations and reduce waste. They’re embracing artificial intelligence (AI) and new technologies to fluctuate energy utilisation more effectively and are challenging every aspect of their supply chains to innovate for more sustainable solutions.

Annually, IHG disposes of around 2% of their hotel properties, which is a significant number when one considers they have more than 6,000 hotels. Many of these properties are removed because they are older, no longer commercially viable and are often high energy inefficient.

Reducing the carbon footprint of their existing hotel portfolio is key. This is complemented by a focus on designing the hotels of tomorrow for low or zero carbon and, also, by leaning into renewable energy.

No matter how efficient the operations become, it is imperative that they can tap into renewable energy. This is where government needs to play an active role to decarbonise energy grids.

Governments are quite good at setting grand targets for future carbon emissions but they are not necessarily as good when it comes to presenting the transition roadmap to reach their net zero destination.

This is where private business is taking the lead; individual industries are much more aware of what needs to be done to decarbonise in their space. Consequently, there is much governments can learn from industry leaders as nations transition away from fossil fuels.

The hotel experience will likely change more now and in the next 10 years than it has in the past 50 years. The race to decarbonise one million hotel rooms is on, so watch this space!

About Keith Barr

Keith has been Chief Executive Officer of IHG Hotels & Resorts since July 2017. He is responsible for implementing IHG’s strategy for high-quality growth and generating industry leading value creation for hotel owners, operators and shareholders. This strategy focuses on strengthening a diverse portfolio of differentiated brands, building scale in key markets, creating lifetime guest relationships, and delivering highly profitable revenues to hotels.

Keith has spent more than 25 years working in the hospitality industry across a wide range of roles, having started his career in hotel operations. He has been a member of IHG’s Executive Committee since April 2011 and served as Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) for four years before being appointed CEO. Prior to his role as CCO, Keith spent four years as CEO of IHG’s Greater China business, where under his leadership, IHG drove outstanding results and helped set the foundations for growth in a key market.

Keith joined IHG in 2000 and subsequently held a number of senior positions in IHG’s Americas and former Asia, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) regions. He was previously Vice President of Operations for Midscale brands in North America, Vice President of Operations for the Holiday Inn brand in North America and Chief Operating Officer for Australia, New Zealand, and South Pacific.

Prior to joining IHG, Keith held several senior positions at Bristol Hotels and Resorts, which was acquired by IHG in 2000. Keith is a Non-Executive Director of Yum! Brands. He also sits on the Board of WiHTL (Women in Hospitality Travel & Leisure). Keith is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and is currently a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board for The School of Hotel Administration, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.

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