IHG boss talks about creating a 'digital advantage'

Hotel guests are increasingly expecting seamless technology, IHG Hotels & Resorts CEO Keith Barr said during the company’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2021 earnings call.

Barr talked about creating a “digital advantage.”

“This is vital to enabling a seamless technology experience across the guest journey, from driving direct bookings and creating integrated digital experiences for our guests to delivering revenue-enhancing solutions for our owners,” Barr said.

He added that attribute pricing, part of IHG’s guest reservation system developed by Amadeus, is being rolled out with 95% of hotels having completed “detailed room inventory assessments in preparation.”

Piloting of the attribute pricing system began in early 2019, with the technology enabling guests to select room attributes when booking.

He went on to discuss the relaunch of IHG’s loyalty program, which has more than 100 million members who “traditionally account for more than around half of our guest days.”

Barr added: “Loyalty members stay more and spend more. They are also nine times more likely to book direct, which is the most profitable channel for our owners.”

He also says loyalty members were the most resilient during the pandemic and the company is now planning “the biggest loyalty transformation in our history,” which will include personalized benefits.

On distribution trends, Barr says it’s “pretty noisy” because of different rates of recovery in different geographies.

“In areas where we have seen a full recovery and you’re seeing more business travel, you’re seeing much more of a normalization to our traditional distribution contributions. In markets where it’s been much more leisure-oriented, you are seeing an increase in some of the OTAs because, again, those are infrequent leisure customers and you’re seeing decreases in things like GDS.”

Echoing similar comments from Marriott in its recent earnings call, Barr added that a lot more business came direct and that the launch of a new mobile app will boost its digital share.

IHG reported a 21% increase in revenue, to $2.9 billion, in 2021, with an operating profit of $494 million compared with a loss of $153 million in 2020.

Source: PhocusWire

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