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IHG Takes Mobile Social Media a Few Steps Further.
By Melanie Nayer ~ Exclusive Column
Wednesday, 29th June 2011
 
Just how savvy can hoteliers get with social media? The options are quite limitless, if you have the right approach.

The top hotels on Twitter keep conversations engaging and entertaining, and hotel Facebook apps make it easier for consumers to book rooms, talk to hotel staff and learn more about destinations.

Take a look at Ritz-Carlton on Twitter -- the corporate account (@RitzCarlton) tweets daily with customers and media, and every Friday has a guest Twitterer from one of their hotels around the world who talks about the destination, things to do, and unique activities.

On Facebook, the hotel company uploads hotel photo galleries, hosts surveys and polls, and even once in a while has a note from the President to guests.

The Mandarin Oriental twitter accounts are separated by location and feature tweets about the hotels, promotions, new options for travel around the area, and even a few funny news clips or jokes to start the morning.

Their Facebook pages contain everything from recipes from their restaurants, to spa discounts and announcements of holiday events.

So while nearly a quarter of hotels are still sleeping around social media, many hotel groups continue to dominate the new media stream, appealing to a wider audience and setting the social media curve for hotels. But just last week, one hotel group came out with another way to appeal to the technology generation: iPhone apps.

The InterContenintal Hotel Group started the year with the announcement of their iPad concierge apps, and continues to be one of the biggest players on Twitter and Facebook. Now comes word from IHG about another social concept that's sure to make booking hotels a bit easier: iPhone booking apps.

IHG announced the launch of the booking apps for all seven of their hotel brands - InternContinental Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites. The new iPhone apps will allow customs to find hotels, check rates, book rooms, or cancel reservations, all from their phone. But why the new move toward mobile?

According to, IHG the company has seen a nearly 1,000 percent increase in room night bookings from mobile devices, signaling it was time for a big advancement. Guests who generally book via mobile devices are looking for last-minute or day-off rooms, but IHG hopes to capture a bigger part of the market, and corner those guests in the early stages of travel planning.

"We are continuing to build on our mobile strategy by making our brands more accessible to today's travelers who seek solutions that assist them through every step of the travel planning process," said Michael Menis, vice president, Web and Interactive Marketing for IHG, in a press statement.

The iPhone apps for each brand include:
  • The ability to search, compare and book various IHG properties
  • Accessing directions and hotel contact information
  • Storing your credit card information to expedite bookings
  • Setting up travel profiles, including IHG membership numbers and priority requests.
  • Ability to enroll in and earn stays with Priority Club Rewards
So, will mobile be the new way? Will more hotels follow-suit and create direct-to-reservation booking apps for phones? The social media platform continues to expand - are you on board?

Melanie Nayer is a hotel reviewer and expert on luxury travel around the world. She has covered all aspects of hotels including corporate restructures, re-branding initiatives, historical aspects and the best of the best in luxury hotels around the world.

Melanie writes a weekly exclusivecolumn for 4Hoteliers.com
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