17 experts advise on what’s to come this year. Spoiler: Data factors big.
The Innovate Conference for the Advancement of Business Travel offered business travel executives the opportunity to articulate priorities and recommendations.
InterContinental Hotels Group CEO Keith Barr's stated plans
for the company can best be summed up as: more of the same, but better.
The executive, who assumed his new role on July 1, said during
the company's second-quarter earnings call there's an opportunity to sharpen
IHG's focus and accelerate growth while retaining the company's existing
"high-quality, sustainable approach." Barr said the executive team
will strengthen the company's brands and refine the existing portfolio, as well
as leverage IHG's "deep consumer insight to launch new brands that fill
unmet consumer needs and deliver superior owner returns."
The company is already slated to launch an unnamed
brand in the midscale segment below the price point of Holiday Inn and
Holiday Inn Express. IHG identified 14 million guests, worth $20 billion in
annual industry revenue, who are underserved by existing brands. "These
guests are traveling for both business and leisure and are looking for
consistency, a clean, safe environment and good value," Barr said. "They
want the basics done exceptionally well and at the right cost. They don't want
to feel they are paying for things they don't need." Barr said the company
expects the new brand will become one of IHG's largest in the U.S.
IHG trails hoteliers like Hilton and Marriott
International in guest-focused mobile tech rollouts, such as mobile room keys
and mobile check-in and check-out. IHG announced in
2015 it was piloting such initiatives, but
as of January they were still in testing, according to IHG Americas CEO Elie
Maalouf, who spoke to BTN at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit. Though
Barr didn't mention those innovations in his remarks on second-quarter earnings,
he did say IHG "will invest intelligently in digital, technological and
loyalty innovation to enhance our competitive advantage." The company is
on track to fully deploy a cloud-based guest reservation system by early 2019.
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