Case study InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)

650,000 rooms in 4,500 hotels in 100 countries; each visitor a unique experience thanks to mobile

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InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) – which offers more than 650,000 rooms in around 4,500 hotels across 100 countries – is the largest hotel group in the world by number of rooms. The business operates seven hotel brands/ InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites.

By using text specifically aimed at mobile users, we saw revenue from our mobile search increase by 91% year on year

First, IHG created a mobile-optimised site so visitors could check availability and book rooms at nearby IHG hotels. IHG’s interactive marketing manager for EMEA, Marco De Rosa says: “The great thing about our mobile website is that it gives us more flexibility than an app. In our case, the site takes account of visitors’ locations, so we can provide them with a more personalised service with local maps and driving directions to their hotels. Furthermore, our mobile site is now available in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Brazilian Portuguese.” Indeed, IHG saw the website as the lynchpin in the success of its mobile strategy. De Rosa comments: “Given that it can be accessed from multiple platforms, it can reach a much larger audience. It is also accessible from any mobile browser, which means people don’t have to download anything to their devices.”

IHG created mobile-based AdWords campaigns for each hotel brand for localised sites in the UK, France, Germany and Italy. These campaigns contained unique messaging, which included phrases such as ’Holiday Inn Hotels’, ’Mobile site – book now’ and ’Call or book direct on mobile site’. De Rosa says: “It seemed clear that to maximise traffic, we needed mobile-specific ad text for the different hotels worldwide.”

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The adoption of unique messaging delivered great results. “By using text specifically aimed at mobile users, we saw revenue from our mobile search activity increase by 91% year on year,” says De Rosa. Further analysis showed the UK produced the best results, closely followed by Germany, France and Italy. De Rosa adds: “Thanks to our current activity with Google, traffic to our mobile site is increasing by 20% month on month.”

After the mobile site, IHG launched the Priority Club Reward app – for both Android and iOS platforms – which gives customers a simple way to find and book hotel rooms, check their points balance and view reservations. Each time they book a hotel using the app, they increase their number of reward points. “Downloads have exceeded our expectations,” says De Rosa. “We reached 100,000 downloads of the iPhone app in three-and-a-half months from launch in April.” The Android app has been a particular success since it launched – with downloads increasing by more than 400% at the height of the summer, and revenue from the app increasing by 350% during the same period. “Android is now the fastest-growing platform for IHG,” adds De Rosa.

The great thing about our mobile website is that it takes account of location so we can provide local maps and directions

IHG takes mobile very seriously, and its “test and learn” approach is providing insights and better decision-making. De Rosa adds: “We are part-way through a three-year programme for our mobile activity,” he explains, “and we have a series of launches planned for the coming months, including an iPad app for the InterContinental brand.”

De Rosa concludes: “The key to success will be in driving unique experiences to our guests, which will eventually lead to channel preference.”

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