Checking in with: Emma King

Emma King

For the first time, Sleep & Eat 2020 will be delivered in collaboration with IHG and other major international Hotel Brand Partners, including Accor, and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.

As the weeks indoors stretch on, the Sleep & Eat team are checking in with our community to discover how others in the hospitality world are dealing with the lockdown.

Today, we’re exploring the ‘new normal’ of Emma King, Head of Interior Design at IHG.

Hi Emma,

Thanks for letting us check in with you. It’s important for us to stay connected with our community, even if at a social distance.

Where are you self-isolating right now?

At my home in Cobham, Surrey. We designed it ourselves and then built it, finishing about a year ago. We feel really lucky it was finished in time for this.

What’s the view from your new ‘work desk’?

My view is firstly of my Anglepoise Paul Smith lamp and beyond a big oak tree and an empty house that we pretend is a safe house for the Government (actually we just found out that they live in Dubai… we are watching way too much Netflix!). 

What are you most enjoying having the time to do, that you can’t normally fit in?

My commute was about one hour each way… so an extra hour in bed and, given that I have a lot more energy left at the end of the day, an hour of exercise. I am still asleep on the sofa by 10pm – that hasn’t changed.

Have you developed a new daily routine?

Given that I have replaced my commuting with more productive things, my workday is very similar to normal… meetings, calls, hotel reviews… all just done virtually now, without the travel and with shorter breaks in between.

What’s your favourite part of the day in your ‘new normal’?

It’s nice to have a quick catch up with my husband at lunchtime and see what he has been doing all morning. His office is walking distance from the house so he is still going there on his own – which means he doesn’t have to hear me on calls all day.

Emma King quote


What do you think will be the biggest change in how you do your job post COVID-19?

I think I will be traveling a lot less in the future and we will be doing much more video conferencing and calls. Now that everyone has had to embrace the technology, and accept it as a way of life, we are now screen sharing to be more productive. In-person meetings and travelling to site will still be important, but I think it will be in dispersed with more virtual collaboration, reducing the frequency and amount of travel.

It’s a difficult time for the hospitality industry. What do you think will be the hospitality sectors biggest challenge post COVID?

Hotels that were more business-focused will be challenging initially as I think everyone will travel for work a lot less and certainly, in the early months post-lock-down, only essential work travel will happen, mainly due to companies insurance and employee’s own concerns.

What should those in the hospitality industry be doing now to help them prepare for the coming months?

We need to be finding ways to make our guests feel as safe as possible in the hotels. “Contactless” check-ins, social distancing journeys through the hotel, cleanliness/disinfecting of rooms. To give them the confidence to come to us and even promote our best practices on social media.

How is IHG planning to ‘hit the ground running’ again in the coming months? Do you have any new project ideas in the pipeline?

In terms of ‘hitting the ground running’, it is business as usual as much as is possible. We have signed a new InterContinental hotel during lockdown which we are really excited about. We are and will be, working on that as well as supporting all our owners on the reopening of the hotels when the time comes to provide as smooth a transition as possible.

And finally, what are you most looking forward to doing again when the lockdown is lifted?

I miss my car… even a one hour commute round the M25 is fun when I am behind the wheel of it. But I am really looking forward to going out for a nice long drive to a country pub and getting my husband to drive back… he may have other ideas! Once that is done I really want to catch up with friends over a nice meal at some local restaurants.

Thanks for checking in with us, Emma.

To hear about how other key figures in the hospitality design community are approaching life and work in the current climate, you can also check in with...

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