InterContinental Hotels Group PLC Chief Financial Officer, Tom Singer, reviews the company’s half year results for 2013
InterContinental Hotels Group have announced that its Holiday Inn brand has become the first major hotel brand in the world to launch a travel app for Windows 8 – the newest version of the Windows operating platform for PCs and tablets. We’ve previously explored how important mobile and consumer technology has become in IHG’s growth strategy and picking Holiday Inn, the world’s largest upper midscale hotel brand, seems a sensible brand to kick-off this latest venture. The new app allows guests to find and book rooms at any Holiday Inn hotel, as well as at the more than 4,500 IHG hotels worldwide, including the InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites brands. Through the app’s tile on the Start screen, guests can directly search for hotels, see property photo galleries and descriptions as well as view existing reservations. Priority Club® Rewards members also can view their status and check their points balance through the application.
“Holiday Inn has transformed the hospitality industry with its innovative and modern approach to guest services, and has a rich heritage of firsts in the industry, so it was a natural fit for our first app for Windows 8 to be rolled out with this industry-leading brand. “Developing an easy-to-use e-commerce app furthers our commitment to identifying and leveraging emerging technology to drive satisfaction for our guests, while optimizing revenue delivery for our hotels” said Michael Menis, vice president, Web and Interactive Marketing, IHG.
The Holiday Inn app can be downloaded free of charge from the Windows Store and builds upon IHG’s existing developments and consumer-facing technology that facilitates guests’ access to e-commerce tools for hotel stays.
“Microsoft app developers have always provided rich functionality and value for our shared customers, and Windows 8 gives them the platform to deliver.” said John Richards, senior director of Windows App Marketing for Microsoft Corp. “The re-imagining of Windows keeps our app developers ahead of the competition and gives our shared customers flexibility and choice.”
You may have heard that InterContinental are due to open a brand new property in London, and it’s causing quite a buzz in the London hotel world. And why? Because this is the first InterContinental hotel to open for 36 years. I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of this newly designed and renovated InterContinental London Westminster, due to open in a matter of weeks, that will home some 256 guest rooms, including 44 luxurious suites and penthouse. It was really interesting to get this behind the scenes insight into the hotel and see all the hard work going on to get ready for opening. Even with much furniture and fittings missing, you can see that this is going to be a very special property.
Even without considering the building and hotel itself, the location is of greatest importance here, located on the site of a former Government Building, which played host amongst others to the Treasury Solicitor and The Brewers’ Society, slap bang in Westminster. With such a location, you can already guess the cliental that may frequent the hotel and I’m sure this is a reason InterContinental have incorporated a selection of exclusive meeting and event spaces that reflect exatly the heritage and political surroundings of the hotel.
Set across the lower ground level, the hotel’s meetings rooms, which can be transformed into a maximum of seven different spaces, are aptly named after the most celebrated political residences. Chevening and Dorneywood will cater for up to 75 and 55 respectively in various seating configurations, while Chequers will be a fixed boardroom, seating 10 and offering the latest in state-of-the-art technology. The Whitehall Suite which can be adapted from 60 – 254 seating to a 300 person standing reception can also be divided to create four individual meeting spaces each hosting up to 86 people.
Blue Boar Smokehouse & Bar is at the heart of the hotel’s food and beverage offering – and even unfinished when I had a preview today, I already want to come back and experience the wonderful smokey offerings. With a choice of two private dining rooms seating 12, which can be combined to accommodate 24, delegates will be treated to a menu which takes inspiration from the best American pit masters but with a distinctly British influence like the Pulled Rare Breed Pork Collar or the Treacle Marinated, 12 Hour Roasted Beef Brisket which revolves around authentic smoke house techniques. On-site charcoal and smoking ovens will produce rustic dishes served in a modern way; classic comfort food using great British produce.
Andrew Coney, General Manager, InterContinental London Westminster explained “Our location in the heart of Westminster Village has naturally been a great inspiration to us. Our events offering will enable us to deliver exceptional experiences for our guests, whether they’re here for official political business, perhaps presenting their memoirs or simply looking to celebrate an occasion in an intimate space.”
My visit today came amongst the final throws of preparations to complete the outstanding work and get the hotel opened, but even without the fine artworks, carpets and finishing touches, this hotel already has a special feel. What struck me, was that if I had no idea which hotel chain owned the hotel, just from walking in the lobby and public areas, I would have been able to guess it was InterContinental. I can’t put my finger on it, but this hotel has a very InterContinental feel and I’m excited to re-visit and see the finished article very soon.
InterContinental Hotels Group PLC have announced their third quarter 2012 results:
Richard Solomons, Chief Executive of InterContinental Hotels Group PLC, said: “We have delivered a solid set of results in the quarter with RevPAR growth across all regions and outperformance in key markets such as the US and Greater China. Our preferred brands have driven good underlying revenue growth despite a number of industry wide issues such as the timing of holidays, slowing economic growth in certain markets and the political leadership change in China. We continue to build a strong foundation for future growth, with a good pace of signings and openings, and we are on track to meet our full year net system growth guidance. Our new brands are gaining traction, with the first signing for EVEN Hotels in New York City in October and 12 signings for HUALUXE Hotels & Resorts year to date. The global economic environment remains challenging. However, our forward bookings remain encouraging and we are confident that IHG is well positioned to continue to outperform based on the considerable strengths of the business and our focused strategy for high quality growth.”
More news from hotel giants InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) this week (my, haven’t they been busy?) as they announce the signing of the first EVEN Hotels property which will be located in New York City. The IHG managed hotel will be located at 219 E 44th Street in the heart of midtown Manhattan, and will be a flagship property for the new brand. A new build hotel, scheduled for opening in late 2014, will feature 230 bedrooms across 23 floors, dedicated meeting areas, and indoor and outdoor exercise and eating spaces all spread over 87,000 square feet.
“This is another important first for IHG. By developing our portfolio of preferred brands in line with emerging consumer preferences, we are meeting the needs of a new type of guest who’s looking for hotels with an intrinsic focus on wellness in terms of food, work, exercise and rest,” said Richard Solomons, chief executive officer, IHG. “New York City is an ideal location, being one of the most health-minded cities in the U.S. – so it will provide the EVEN Hotels brand with the right exposure to its target guest, the healthier-minded traveller.”
The EVEN Hotels brand comprises four priority areas: eat, work, exercise and rest – sound familiar New York? You can see why New York was picked as a great first city for this concept. IHG clearly have this in mind and have pointed out that New York City was ranked one of the top 50 healthiest cities in the U.S. in 2012, with more than 1,700 parks, playgrounds, and recreation facilities across the five boroughs providing multiple opportunities for exercise. New York City has also led the charge on changes aimed at a healthier city experience including: banning the sale of sugary drinks over 16 oz., posting all calorie counts on menus and menu boards and banning the use of artificial trans-fats in foods.
“New York City is a key part of EVEN Hotels’ distribution strategy and provides strong market exposure to healthier minded people both living and travelling to New York City, looking for a holistic wellness hotel experience,” said Kirk Kinsell, president, the Americas, IHG. “We are excited about the start of this new owner relationship with CWC Inc. as it brings together IHG’s branding and management expertise with CWC Inc.’s strong presence in the New York City real estate market.”
IHG are claiming “another industry first for this kind of hotel and say they are meeting a large and growing customer demand for a healthier travel experience. EVEN Hotels uniquely provides solutions for all aspects of travellers wellness needs in the areas of food, work, exercise and rest – all under one roof. Joining IHG’s existing seven hotel brands, EVEN Hotels will be a key pillar in IHG’s portfolio of preferred brands and in the long term, a key driver in market share growth in the U.S.
IHG expects to sign 100 EVEN Hotels in the U.S. in the next 5 years under managed and franchised agreements in key markets including New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco.
With 67 million members globally, IHG’s Priority Club Rewards is the largest and fastest-growing guest loyalty program in the hotel industry. So you can see why keeping this fresh and staying connected to its millions of members is high on the list of priorities for IHG. Named Best Hotel Rewards Program in the World seven years running by Global Traveler magazine and Best Hotel Loyalty Program for four years by Business Traveler magazine, Priority Club Rewards offers many benefits and is somewhat famous for flexible features like ‘No Points Expiration’ and ‘No Blackout Dates’.
Late last week, InterContinental Hotels Group announced the continuation of its mobile strategy with launch of the Priority Club® Rewards app for iPad®. With a continued focus on mobile and tablet booking solutions and immersing the guest in tailored brand experiences, hotels in IHG’s system are now generating over $20 million a month in revenue from mobile bookings, clearly showing why this is a key growth area for investment.
IHG’s mobile strategy focuses on connecting with guests at all touch points throughout their travel planning and stay experience. The new app provides consumers with easy-to-use functionality to find and book hotel rooms, check rates, and the flexibility to manage their reservations and view member details. Through other mobile solutions, such as apps for all seven IHG hotel brands on iPhone, consumers can now access redeemable offers available at the hotel where they are staying. Also, corporate partners now have their own customized IHG-branded app with their corporate ID embedded, so they can easily view and book hotels at their negotiated rates.
Michael Menis, Vice President Global Interactive Marketing commented: “Consumers are increasingly using mobile devices and tablets to search, shop and book travel. Our emphasis is on developing booking apps and mobile features to engage with guests in every step of their journey. It’s not just about booking rooms – we’re building relationships with our guests and connecting with them throughout their stay experience.”
HG currently has Priority Club Rewards apps for Kindle Fire, Google TV, Android Tablets, Windows Phone, and Android. IHG also has iPhone booking apps for each of its seven brands; the InterContinental Concierge Insider Guides iPad app; and theInterContinental Kitchen Cookbook iPad app.
Of course, IHG are the biggest hotel company in the world, but even if you are an independent hotel it’s important to have your own mobile strategy. We will examine this more in future posts, but you can already be doing some simple things to make your brand have a mobile presence.