IHG benefits from mobile

29 November 2010

LONDON: The Intercontinental Hotels Group has enjoyed tangible benefits from increasing its focus on mobile in some of Europe's biggest markets.

Operating 4,500 hotels in over 100 countries, the company owns brands like Crowne Plaza and Hotel Indigo, alongside its eponymous chain.

People visiting IHG's website via wireless handsets can book rooms, and access a geo-location tool identifying the sites nearest to them.

This digital hub has English, German, French, Italian and Spanish variants, meaning many European consumers are able to view information in their native language.

"The great thing about our mobile website is that it gives us more flexibility than an app," Marco De Rosa, IHG's interactive marketing manager, EMEA, told Marketing Week.

"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."

In publicising this service, the organisation leveraged Google's Adwords to create mobile-centric campaigns in France, Germany, Italy and the UK.

Messages contained within search ads included "Mobile site - book now" and "Call or book direct on mobile site".

"It seemed clear that to maximise traffic, we needed mobile-specific ad text for the different hotels worldwide," said de Rosa.

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

The UK delivered the most impressive results, ahead of Germany, France and Italy.

"Thanks to our current activity with Google, traffic to our mobile site is increasing by 20% month on month," said De Rosa.

More recently, IHG has rolled out the Priority Club Reward app for the iPhone and smartphones utilising Google's Android, allowing customers to reserve rooms and check their points balance.

Whenever someone makes a booking using this route, they receive reward points, and while 100,000 iPhone apps were downloaded in three months, Android now constitutes the "fastest-growing" medium.

"We are part-way through a three-year programme for our mobile activity, and we have a series of launches planned for the coming months, including an iPad app for the InterContinental brand," said De Rosa.

"The key to success will be in driving unique experiences to our guests, which will eventually lead to channel preference."

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff