Corporate Responsibility: Defining the Role of Hotels in Society
By David Michael Jerome SVP Corporate Responsibility, InterContinental Hotels Group | June 17, 2012
The hospitality industry is an ancient one. For thousands of years people have travelled for commerce, education and recreation, and hotels and inns of one form or another have been opening their doors to provide them with a place to rest and refresh. While things might have changed a little over the years, fundamentally our purpose is the same. But before I start talking about the role of hotels in society today I want to take a step back and consider the question that precedes it - what is the role of business in society?
If you were to ask any group of people to define the role of business in society I'm pretty certain 90% of them would say it's to make money. That's partly true, of course, but it misses an essential element in the equation. Because making money is actually a derivative of a business's main purpose - which is to meet needs, whether that's building cars that allow people to work, live and play in the modern world, say, or lending money to get a new business venture off the ground or help an existing one to grow.
An Old and Sacred Tradition
When we at IHG asked ourselves the question, what is the role of hotels in society, we had this understanding of the role of business firmly in our minds. We wanted to really get to the nub of what our business is about, to make sure we understood what needs our hotels meet, what our raison d'être is - because only by truly understanding the role we play can we build and operate better hotels.
We agreed that, essentially, we build and run hotels to:
- provide hospitality
- provide a place to celebrate
- provide a place to do business
- create jobs and wealth
- provide shelter in a storm