An ESRC-funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership has provided robust risk management for InterContinental Hotels Group's businesses around the world.


  • The KTP Associate Catia Guimaraes developed a clear governance structure involving more than 200 people around the world at all levels of the company – from corporate executives to staff in operational roles
  • She developed the principles of operation for the group's Global Business Continuity Council, comprising vice presidents and senior executives involved with business continuity and global corporate risk management
  • Extending the work beyond the KTP, she will also develop a foundation for the business continuity management of IHG's 4,500 hotels.
  • As a result of the successful KTP, the Oxford Brookes School of Hospitality Management and IHG have continued to work together in developing a strategic risk management course. The course, 'Tourism Industry Dynamics and Strategy', is offered in the school's MSc in International Hotel and Tourism Management, and its MSc in International Hotel and Tourism Marketing.

"IHG's operating system delivery, which covers 4600 hotels and about 1 million room nights, is much more robust now thanks to this project, and people across the business understand the importance of business continuity planning and how it fits with crisis management and the long term resilience of IHG." (John Ludlow, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Risk Management, IHG)

About the research

Hotel companies around the world are often faced with instability and risk, ranging from economic recession to natural disasters. Despite these risks they manage to maintain a safe environment for their customers, and a profitable operation for their shareholders.

One of the world's largest hotel companies, the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) which owns Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza Hotels and other well-known brands, decided to take advantage of the expertise of social scientists in managing risk. They enlisted Oxford Brookes School of Hospitality Management's researcher Catia Guimaraes as a Knowledge Transfer Partner (KTP) Associate, and she worked with IHG's risk management team to create business continuity and disaster recovery plans for 49 key business units located in 27 sites around the world.

"Catia's efforts and the KTP allowed IHG to stand back from what it was doing in terms of business continuity planning and raise the game of offices and IT centres around the world," says John Ludlow, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Risk Management at InterContinental Hotels Group.

A few months into Catia Guimaraes’ placement, Japan was struck by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and Catia had to use her expertise in a very real crisis. She provided the team with valuable information about the group's sites in Japan that she had acquired through mapping and business impact analysis of headquarters and divisional offices, central reservations offices, data centres and business service centres around the world.

Catia Guimaraes was named Business Leader of Tomorrow at the Technology Strategy Board’s KTP Awards 2011, and was hired by IHG as Crisis and Business Continuity Risk Manager.