Hotel Chain Sees Mobile App Turning ‘Lookers Into Bookers’

IHG is rolling out smartphone apps because internal data shows that customers who use mobile apps are more loyal than those who don’t

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) will, of course, take a room reservation no matter how a customer makes it. But it sees enticing sales potential in moving hotel guests to mobile applications.

The $1.6 billion company, which owns the InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and four other hotel chains, has rolled out mobile applications for BlackBerry, Android, iPhone and Windows Phone. The strategy: IHG will build native mobile applications offering unique capabilities that aren’t suitable for its website, says Bill Keen, director of mobile solutions, Web and interactive marketing.

Native applications are faster, he says, and can take advantage of special features in each operating system, such as location-aware capabilities. Plus, IHG’s internal data shows that customers who use mobile apps are more loyal than those who don’t. “We want to turn lookers into bookers and turn bookers into loyalists,” Keen says.

Members of IHG’s Priority Club Rewards program can download an application for their smartphones to find hotels, check rates and book and cancel reservations. Of the 58 million people in the club, 300,000 have downloaded at least one of IHG’s mobile apps.

Like other companies, IHG is figuring out how to modernize its business model with new technology, says Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner. Companies in retail and other industries have been doing mobile commerce for a while, he says.

Retailer QVC, for example, got into mobile shopping in 2008. It sent text messages to customers with existing accounts, who could reply to buy beauty products, home electronics and other items.

To continue reading this article register now

7 secrets of successful remote IT teams