The Accidental Marketer: How Liz Crisafi Found Her Calling in Hospitality as IHG’s Global VP of Integrated Marketing

January 31, 2024

Liz Crisafi took an unexpected route through the worlds of broadcasting, marketing, and advertising before she landed in hospitality as the Global Vice President of Integrated Marketing at InterContinental Hotels Group. But her passion for storytelling and people has been a constant driving force.

After initially pursuing broadcast journalism in college and losing her Southern accent along the way, Liz realized the competitive field wasn’t for her. So when a friend suggested she try marketing, mentioning the better pay and hours, she decided to pivot. As she says with a laugh, “Compared to broadcast, anything probably looked better at that point!”

Her first marketing gig may not have been glamorous, selling agricultural chemicals. But Liz embraced the challenge to “make herbicides and pesticides interesting” with an ad campaign set in an OR trying to revive a giant dying potato. As Liz says, “It doesn't have to be boring, even if it’s some random chem company or a B2B market.”

Over the years, Liz learned to love marketing and honed her skills on iconic brands like Kodak. But it was the field of hospitality marketing that ultimately captured her heart when she joined IHG. As she puts it, “It’s hospitality. I love travel. It was a great role for me and it’s a great company. It checked all the boxes.”

Now as IHG’s Global VP of Integrated Marketing, she leads marketing efforts for the company’s 19 brands and 6000 destinations worldwide. But she’s quick to note, “Our best product is our people that walk in and out of those hotel doors every day.”

Of course, marketing such a diverse portfolio of hotel brands poses unique challenges. As Liz explains, “You have to be relevant in the moment and make sure you’re co-creating experiences, not just relying on past data.” From road warriors staying at a Holiday Inn Express to couples celebrating at a glamorous InterContinental, IHG aims to deliver personalized and meaningful stays.

And while Liz loves the creativity of marketing, she’s learned over the years not to take things too seriously either. “Take your work seriously, but don't take yourself too seriously,” she advises. “We’re not curing cancer here, we’re marketing.”

Giving Back Through Mentorship

Outside of her marketing leadership, Liz is also passionate about mentoring other women in business. She shares an impactful story of mentoring a young woman named Claudia who was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after they began working together.

Unsure of what to say about such a traumatic, life-altering diagnosis, Liz explains that the experience taught her as much as she hopefully helped Claudia. “When it’s something that traumatic of life and death, it was something that taught me as much as hopefully I helped her through that,” Liz recounts.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Liz wears pink as a tribute to Claudia’s journey and to emphasize the importance of women prioritizing their health. As she puts it, “We as women, a lot of times, especially professional women, put ourselves last. We don’t go to the doctor's appointments or we reschedule them, and we take care of everybody else first before taking care of ourselves.”

Liz also believes we need to reframe “mentorship” to be less intimidating and more welcoming. As she suggests, “We're going to rebrand it. We're not going to say mentor and mentee anymore. We're going to call it professional therapy because I think that makes it a little bit less intimidating.”

With a career spanning broadcasting, chemicals, film, and hospitality, Liz has certainly taken some unexpected twists and turns. But through it all, her passion for stories and people has led her down a path helping bring people together in meaningful ways. Or as Liz would likely say, leaving her audience happier than a eaten fortune cookie.

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