InterContinental Hotels Group Ups the Ante

Guest-facing initiatives take a load off planners’ shoulders

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has a grand vision when it comes to integrating the latest technologies into its hotels, and the company recently unveiled a huge chunk of its tech strategy following a few other tech-related announcements earlier this year.

New web, mobile, in-hotel and even smartwatch tech will be available to aid guests from booking to check-out—with plenty of opportunities to employ it during their stays. The goal is to make the overall guest experience easier and more interactive, and most will be easily accessible through the IHG app on Android and Apple phones.

We continuously gather insights from consumers, which enables us to research, develop, pilot and launch new ways of engaging with guests across their guest journey,” says Michael Menis, senior vice president of digital and voice channels for IHG. “[The initiatives] are an illustration of how we evolve our content strategy to stay connected with guests and develop more meaningful relationships with them.”

Anything that makes the guest experience easier lightens the load on meeting planners, and several of the initiatives are sure to entice them. “The initiatives are really exciting because they reinforce how our digital capabilities add value beyond the booking opportunity,” Menis says.

Cloud Check

In April, IHG announced that it’s working with Miami-based travel-tech company Amadeus on the hotel industry’s first cloud-based guest reservation system (GRS). Both companies are tight-lipped on the details for now, but they’re saying GRS will be the first standardized, scalable and flexible technology ecosystem of its kind, and will revolutionize the technological foundations of the global hospitality industry. That’s a bold claim, and we’re eager to see how GRS lives up to it when the tech rolls out in 2017.

In & Out

Richard Solomons, CEO of IHG, says that GRS “will help us accelerate our work to revolutionize and personalize the guest experience through technology.” Part of that work is a mobile check-in and check-out service. In addition to allowing guests to check in and out via their smartphones, it confirms guests’ arrival times and sends notifications when their rooms are ready—
relieving meeting planners of that logistical burden. This service will be available only for elite members of the IHG Rewards Club at first, but will expand later on.

You are the Key Master

Going hand-in-hand with mobile check-in and check-out is mobile room key technology. Combining these services, guests can skip the front desk entirely and go straight to their rooms, using their phones to gain entry. This technology is currently being tested at
select properties in the United States.

Expert Guide

Part of the latest announcement from IHG is a partnership with Stay.com, which offers travel guides for various cities. Guests booking rooms at IHG hotels can create personalized travel guides using tips from local experts on stay.com. The guides can be downloaded to Stay.com’s mobile app on Apple and Android devices for use on or offline—and can be an invaluable tool for meeting planners to find insider info and great offsite opportunities for attendees. This service went live in June in 50 major cities, including San Francisco, Chicago, New York, London, Shanghai and Paris.

As You Wish

Guests can request housekeeping service, call for room repairs and more through IHG Guest Request. Responses are promised to be quick, since the app tracks who among the staff is taking care of each request and alerts them to any requests that still need attention.

Beacon-Wrapped

IHG hotels will place iBeacon technology in hotel lobbies and restaurants to push notifications to guests, including offers relevant to their stays. Planners may have the ability to set custom notifications for meeting and event attendees as this pilot program matures, expanding the interactive component in ways limited only by planners’ imaginations. This service is being tested in select properties in China.

Standing Watch

Those with an Apple Watch can take advantage of the IHG Translator App during events in international destinations—whether or not they’re at an IHG hotel. Users can do like Dick Tracy and speak directly into the watch to get a translation, or select from common phrases. The app translates English into 13 languages, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Japanese and Russian.

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