ICHotels Group personalizes its online bookings process.
Wednesday, 20th August 2003
Source : InterContinental Hotels Group
New Web Site Features Deliver What Customers Asked For - Fewer Steps to Reserve Rooms

InterContinental Hotels Group has made it easier than ever for its Priority Club Rewards members to make reservations online by significantly reducing the number of steps it takes to book a room and by adding customer-directed features. Priority Club Rewards is the customer loyalty program of the InterContinental Hotels Group, the world's most global hotel company.

InterContinental Hotels Group owns some of the world's most recognized and respected brands, and the new reservation features are included on their Web sites, including Priority Club Rewards (www.priorityclub.com), InterContinental Hotels and Resorts (www.intercontinental.com), Crowne Plaza (www.crowneplaza.com), Holiday Inn (www.holiday-inn.com), Holiday Inn Express (www.hiexpress.com) and Staybridge Suites (www.staybridge.com).

"Based on the input of our Priority Club members and non-member guests, we've made our online reservation process an almost effortless exercise in booking for today's busy traveler," said Del Ross, director of Global E-commerce Services for InterContinental Hotels Group. "We continue to raise the bar on industry standards and meet the needs of our guests from the moment they start thinking about planning a trip."

One of the significant changes to InterContinental Hotels Group's online reservation system is the reduction in the number of clicks required to book a room to four from six. This is nearly half of the industry average, according to recent studies published by Forrester Research. According to Henry H. Harteveldt, principal analyst for Forrester Research, Forrester's 2002 mail travel survey shows that nearly 71 percent of Americans who book hotels on the Internet do so because they find a travel site easy to use, and four in ten use a site because they can store personal information, such as a credit card or their travel preferences. Travelers use the Web for control and convenience, so the fewer clicks it takes to make a reservation online, the better.

InterContinental Hotels Group communicates regularly with its guests to learn what they think would make online booking easier, more convenient and valuable to them, while at the same time making it easier and more beneficial for non-members to join Priority Club.

New Web site features include:

* Management of all current guest reservations, regardless of how reservations were made (online, telephone, via a travel agent)
* Customer-controlled favorite destinations based on prior travel and Priority Club member preferences
* Customer-defined Room Type and Rate Preferences saved in profile, including specialized discount programs and corporate rates
* Full-featured Priority Club account maintenance and point status
* More convenient user interface and simpler layout (fewest clicks-to-book of any site online that offers hotel reservations)
* Streamlined, yet advanced search capabilities, including the ability to filter by hotel amenities and location
* Descriptive and comprehensive hotel and room information, making our Web sites the place to research travel plans

Additionally, no other company in the industry offers Quick Enroll, which allows online visitors to sign up for the free Priority Club Rewards loyalty program and immediately receive their membership number without interrupting the original purpose of their site visit. This ensures non-frequent travelers can take instant advantage of the timesaving and customer-directed site features, while earning points for the trips that they do take.

"InterContinental Hotels Group was the first hotel company to offer direct reservations via the Internet (1995) and more recently to offer the first Lowest Internet Rate Guarantee (2002)," said Ross. "We are continuing to invest in technology, but we understand that the best high tech also offers 'high touch'. By offering these special features to our guests, we've personalized what some consider a very impersonal medium and are building stronger relationships with our guests. At InterContinental Hotels Group we build our Web sites to meet our customers' needs, interests and goals, and they've told us they appreciate the effort."

These enhancements have already delivered higher conversion rates and improved customer satisfaction, and soon we will be offering more features, according to Ross.

Online booking for InterContinental Hotels Group in 2003 is up 80 percent in revenue in the first 12 months following the introduction of the Lowest Internet Rate Guarantee and other Web site improvements. Business and leisure travelers are increasingly booking their own travel, and the fastest-growing segment of that traffic is booking online.

"InterContinental Hotels Group plans to continue being an innovator and market leader in using technology to simplify and improve the guest experience at all ends of each transaction," Ross said. "Ultimately, the company's Web sites are not only a method of doing business with its 3,300 hotels worldwide, but a reason for doing so."
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