By Anna Gouldman
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) are increasing their technology budget for 2005 and a significant proportion of this will be invested into growing their presence in the business travel sector, where they predict growth in the coming months. IHG tells Breaking Travel News about some of their impending online innovations aimed to capture some of the business travel market. Angela Brav, Senior Vice President, Americas Franchise and Operations Support, IHG
BTN: Has the overall IT budget for 2005 increased, decreased, or stayed the
same as 2004?
AB: The overall budget has increased for 2005.
BTN: What is the main difference in focus in your technology budget for 2005 compared to 2004?
AB: The focus in our technology budget this year is to continue to develop
technology that facilitates the franchises ability to provide superior
service to their customers as well as deliver higher RevPAR results.
Examples of this include the e-menu, kiosks, etc.
BTN: What will be the biggest challenge for the IHG IT department in the
AB: The biggest challenge for IHG IT is in the arena of training. Developing
the technology is probably the easiest part of our job. Teaching employees
how to maximize its use is the hard part. Technology is a tool that drives
Del Ross, Director, Global E-Commerce Services, IHG
BTN: What will you be doing in order to encourage customers to book on the IHG website? Do you offer a best rate guarantee? What online services/ features are you planning to deploy? Which features of the website have proven to be popular in 2004?
DR: IHG was the first hotel company to offer a best rate guarantee. In
May 2002 we introduced the Lowest Internet Rate Guarantee as part of our
overall Book with Confidence(tm) online service initiative
We have begun introducing special features for business travellers
such as Travel Arranger - which lets people book guaranteed rooms for other
travellers without compromising credit card and other personal information.
We will also be launching new features for frequent business travellers as
well as special functionality for group and meeting planners and attendees.
In February 2005, the company launched a global online booking bonus
program to encourage web channel adoption. We pioneered online performance-based marketing in the hotel industry and will continue our rapid expansion of this effort in 2005 and beyond. We have introduced language support for reservations and Priority Club Rewards(r) functionality in German, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Japanese and will introduce additional languages in 2005
BTN: How is your relationship with your suppliers?
DR: Excellent. We use world-class technology, software, and networking
providers and have established robust partnerships in which we continually
develop new ways to expand and improve our services to our guests
BTN: What are your predictions for the online travel industry in 2005?
DR: Continued rapid pace of growth and an ever-expanding number of
business and group travellers using the Internet for their reservations