For Hilton, crisis planning and flexibility are key in these uncertain times

Canopy Hilton hotel cleanup April 2020 in Washington, DC Photo: Will Newton.

With the PRNEWS Crisis Management Virtual Event taking place on March 24-25, we get to know some of the presenters. Each speaker on the list is a communications leader. Perhaps no other time has tested communicators’ crisis management chops more than the past 12 months.

In this article, we hear from Nigel Glennie, vice president of global communications at Hilton, who offers an overview of communication challenges in the hard-hit travel and tourism industry and a glimpse of what he will share at the conference. .

PRN: What is your role at Hilton?

Nigel Glennie: I am honored to lead the global corporate communications function. They are a group of smart and talented professionals who provide communications for executives, owners, finance and crises for the business, and provide public relations and communications support for the 5,400 Hilton hotels. in North, Central and South America.

Nigel Glennie, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Hilton
Nigel glennie

PRN: As a leader in an industry where the pandemic has hit hard, please share any examples of campaigns or initiatives you have deployed during the year to address issues from various stakeholder groups?

Glennie: The global pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on the travel and tourism industry. Unfortunately, our hotel and corporate teams are not spared. Even as we wait for travel to return to pre-pandemic levels, I am proud of what our communications and corporate responsibility teams have been able to accomplish.

We have supported the first programs on the market offering a customer experience with the launch of Hilton CleanStay, worked with our partners to support first responders with the gift of a million rooms, and managed the most significant business and personal challenges in our 101 year history.

My favorite ad was from our consumer PR team, who kept Hilton in mind with our customers, even when they weren’t traveling, with the release of the DoubleTree by Hilton Home Baked Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.

Despite the most difficult years, Hilton achieved a lot in 2020.

PRN: How would you describe your basic philosophy around crisis communication? Has it changed in this unprecedented year that we have had?

Glennie: I believe that the best business communications, especially crisis communications, are values-based. Each letter of our company name (HILTON) is one of our core values, and it all starts with hospitality and integrity. Even as our small communications team has adjusted to a new environment and a series of difficult issues, we know that if we lead with hospitality and always do the right thing, we’ll be on the right track.

PRN: Your team is no stranger to strategic crisis communication. How did the team apply their expertise in the face of the global crisis? Foundational skills, skill sets, or approaches that you found particularly useful?

Glennie: One of the core skills of any crisis communicator is scenario planning, and yet 2020 has turned out to be a totally unpredictable year. In January, the global travel industry was thinking of another H1N1 or SARS, but by the time February arrived, we knew from our colleagues in Asia-Pacific that we had something different on our hands. Yet the ability to predict what might happen next, to remain flexible, and to respond accordingly was important, even when our usual time horizons had shrunk considerably.

PRN: PR professionals often carry the burden of being always on to respond to the rhythm of social media and the news cycle. Have you found any tips for balancing work and life as so many of us are working full time remotely for the first time?

Glennie: The importance of having a great team and a proven response process was critical to our management until 2020. Without it, our team members would not have had the confidence to step away from the laptop. to recharge. Personally, my wife and I have maintained the practice of “mental health walks” every evening. We’re now on a treadmill during the winter months, but the chance to leave the laptop behind, talk about the day, and get some fresh air continued to be important.

Register for the PRNEWS Crisis Management Virtual Event (March 24-25) here.


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