IHG looks to mid-market brands and digital developments to help recovery

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) expects to have attribute pricing live across its portfolio by the end of this year.

The functionality, which is the latest phase of its Guest Reservation System (GRS), will enable hotels to tailor stays for guests and enable them to purchase ancillary elements.

IHG announced attribute pricing was being piloted in hotels in 2019, with an expectation of it being implemented in a number of properties at the end of that year.

The GRS was unveiled as a partnership with Amadeus in 2015.

The digital development is one of a series touched on during the hotel group’s full-year 2020 financial results.

The group made an operating loss of $153 million for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to profit of $630 million in 2019.

Total group revenue was $2.4 billion, down 48% of 2019’s figure of $4.6 billion.

Commenting on the results, CEO Keith Barr describes 2020 as the “most challenging year in our history.”

“2021 has begun with many of these challenges still in place, with more meaningful progress towards recovery for the industry unlikely until later in the year and dependent on global vaccine rollouts, lifting of restrictions and an acceleration in economic activity.”

He adds that the group is continuing to invest in digital capabilities to boost revenue for hotels and improve the guest experience.

Further technology and digital development referred to in the earnings include digital check-in at more than 1,000 properties with a plan to roll out to 4,500 by the end of 2021.

Digital checkout is already available in 4,000 of its hotel properties.

The company says it has also partnered with Trip.com Group’s Ctrip brand to launch an IHG store to further its digital reach.

Meanwhile, a loyalty partnership with boutique hotel platform Mr & Mrs Smith, giving loyalty scheme members access to more hotels, was announced in October.

The company says its midscale brands, which make up about 70% of the portfolio, did well in 2020.

It also says its business also leans towards non-urban markets that are not so reliant on international inbound travel with, for example, 95% of U.S. business being domestic.

Barr says: “Having demonstrated resilience and outperformed in 2020, we continue to work closely with owners to capture demand, alongside investing to capitalise on our industry’s long-term growth prospects.

“Our preferred brands in attractive markets and segments, even stronger technology and loyalty platforms, and a substantial proportion of our pipeline being under construction, give us confidence in our ability to achieve industry-leading net rooms growth as the market recovers.”

IHG opened 285 hotels in 2020 and signed 360 new properties, a quarter of which are conversions from other brands.

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