Well, what IS a ‘guest’? Apparently, etymologically-speaking, it comes, via Middle English gest, from Old Norse gestr, which replaced or was merged with Old English ġiest. Even further back we have Proto-Germanic ‘gastiz‘, which in turn is derived from Proto-Indo-European ‘gʰóstis‘. Now we know. And ‘gʰóstis‘ means ‘stranger’, or ‘someone with whom one has reciprocal duties of hospitality’.
Girlahead needs to go back to school to find out how ‘reciprocal duties of hospitality’ equates to the customer staying in a hotel or resort. Be that as may, the word is now increasingly ubiquitous, in hotel-speak, for those customers. The term ‘be our guest’ is often banded around in marketing campaigns, sometimes implying a freebie thrown in. IHG’s marketing guru Claire Bennett – technically Global Chief Customer Officer for IHG – came from Amex, whose Don’t Leave Home Without It could well be said to be one of the best taglines in travel anywhere.
Now, for IHG, Claire Bennett has rolled out Guest How You Guest – and the key image is shown above. This is a multimillion-dollar campaign that shows how to define your own journey at IHG hotels. Her view is that “When you look around, it’s hard not to notice that travelers are increasingly left to fend for themselves, and that’s simply not what being a guest should feel like. It sends a message that you don’t always have to do everything. We’re here to take care of all of you.”
The fact that her penultimate sentence does not chime with what some of the highest-spending travellers say (don’t fuss around me, when I want you I need you immediately but not before…) is fine. The concept, devised for IHG by Armando Flores, Executive Creative Director of Grey New York and his team, implies that at any IHG ‘you’re able to guest in whatever way that works for you’. Flores joined Grey NY a year ago, from McCann, and during his 16-year career he has created for, inter alia, Google,LVMH, Macy’s, Mastercard, MTV and Nintendo so he knows what he is doing.
So well done Armando Flores, and Claire Bennett, for turning the word guest into a verb. Guess can be to guess, and now guest can be to guest. Girlahead cannot wait to guest at such favourite IHG properties as Kimptons in London and Edinburgh, InterContinentals in Los Angeles, New York, Paris (Le Grand) and Cannes, Geneva and Sydney (oh that rooftop Club!) and Six Senses, everywhere. And, soon to be back in its glorified post-hibernation state, THE REGENT HONGKONG. Who would have guessed that guesting could be such fun!
Finally, let’s hear from a key member of the extended IHG family: