An Inside Look at How IHG is Creating Great Hotels that Guests Love

By: Elizabeth Clor

February 17, 2016

Social Engagement
social listening
social media
text analytics

Customer experience is everything when it comes to hospitality. Jessie Gustin, Text Analytics Specialist at IHG, is keenly aware of this, and has devoted her career to understanding the guest experience by analyzing customer feedback.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has over 4,700 hotels in nearly 100 countries around the world. IHG’s goal is to create “Great Hotels Guests Love,” and its brands are in 13 of the 20 largest hotel markets with more guest rooms than any other hotel company in the world. The Sentiments team had the opportunity to speak to Jessie Gustin about the hotel chain’s Customer Experience Management program. Here’s what she had to say:

Sentiments: Why is Customer Experience important in the hospitality industry?

Gustin: In our industry, the competition is fierce. Anyone can get a hotel room in just about any city in the world. What we need to do is find a way to differentiate, so that people will choose our brands more often. To do this, we need to know what areas our customers are passionate about, and leverage those, so that we can become a preferred brand for many types of travelers.

Sentiments: What is your top CX priority?

Gustin: Our top priority for customer experience is to support the company’s mission to become the number one hotel company in the world. On a practical level, that means anticipating their needs and exceeding expectations on all the touchpoints of the customer journey. We use Clarabridge primarily to ensure that when guests use our website or reach out to our contact centers that we are promoting the vision of “great hotel’s guests love”, as well as providing the best tools, software, and environment for our employees to thrive.

Sentiments: What core beliefs do you have about CX that drive your business processes and decisions?

Gustin: My core belief about customer experience is that there is no reason to analyze it unless you plan to do something about it. I have many different stakeholders across several departments who ask for insights. When the stakeholders use what they learned to change and improve the business, I think we are headed in the right direction.

Sentiments: Tell us a bit about how you are using Clarabridge to analyze guest feedback.

Gustin: We are using Clarabridge to discover why people call our Customer Care departments, and how they feel about their experience. We also look at barriers to closing sales from our reservations departments, as well as analyzing survey feedback about the experience on both our website and our contact centers. We analyze a lot of employee feedback as well, and have empowered them to leave comments about anything that makes their job difficult, or insights they glean from their interactions with the customers. We are able to analyze why our agents call the help line, or what drives people to need to reach out to Live Chat while on our website. We also do many different ad hoc uploads for different stakeholders when able.

Sentiments: What’s the biggest impact to your business that your Voice of the Customer (VoC) program has made?

Gustin: I believe that the biggest impact that our VoC tools have made to date is on our website. We were able to make a lot of improvement to the website in 2015 based on the feedback we received, and are continuing efforts to make our website more user friendly and increase functionality.

About Jessie Gustin

Jessie Gustin is the Text Analytics Specialist for IHG, and will be speaking at Clarabridge Customer Connections (C3) in April. Jessie earned her Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Utah, and her Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. She has been with IHG for 9 years and has been in her current role since May 2015. She has over 10 years past experience in Management and 15 in Customer Service roles. Jessie lives with her husband and two cats in Salt Lake City, and has two sons and a grandson. Jessie enjoys reading, playing MTG, and traveling.


Clarabridge’s blog, Sentiments, helps businesses incorporate customer sentiment and feedback into their business strategy. Published by Clarabridge, Sentiments speaks to customer experience professionals, marketers, customer care leaders and anyone who wants to make informed, strategic decisions that delight customers. Follow Sentiments on Twitter @Clarabridge.