While there is still plenty to do, it's good to see public companies — and the financial analysts who cover them — paying closer attention to the plastics problem.
It’s a sign of how far the plastic debate has moved into the mainstream that it is now getting mentioned on company earnings calls.
Asked specifically about the amount of plastic handed out at a Holiday Inn Express breakfast, InterContinental Hotels Group Chief Financial Officer and group head of strategy Paul Edgecliffe-Johnson said it was “very much on the corporate agenda.”
Last year IHG said it intended to remove all plastic straws from its properties by the end of 2019 and said it had moved to bulk-size bathroom amenities across several brands in our Americas region.
“What we want to make sure though…is that…if we say we’re going to do something that we know it can be done operationally across all the hotels and that’s really important so there’s a number of things that we’re talking to our owners about, [and] getting buy-in from them,” Edgecliffe-Johnson said on Friday.
Part of the problem for IHG might be its lack of control as around 82 percent of its portfolio is franchised. The franchise model is a looser arrangement than a management contract, making it potentially harder to enact sweeping changes.
IHG is gearing up for the launch of its newest brand, an all-suite upper midscale offering, at its upcoming Americas owners conference in Las Vegas.
Edgecliffe-Johnson said the company wouldn’t be able to start selling new franchises until the end of 2019 after it had created the formal franchise disclosure document.
Speaking earlier this week at Skift Forum Europe, IHG CEO Keith Barr described the design of the new brand as “contemporary” yet “comfortable”.
IHG’s first-quarter results were pretty scant on details as public companies based in Europe don’t have to report earnings on a quarterly basis.
They did show that revenue per available room — a key hotel industry metric — was only up 0.3 percent, which put it below the likes of Hilton (+1.8 percent) and Accor (+1.6 percent). IHG pointed to challenging market conditions in the Middle East.
Photo credit: The Holiday Inn Express in Redding California. Parent company IHG is getting rid of plastic straws. InterContinental Hotels Group