InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is planning a global revamp to its Priority Rewards programme in the next two months.
Karin Sheppard, IHG’s Vice President Commercial for Middle East and Africa, said the programme’s identity will be refreshed and more flexibility given to members with points redemption.
“We’ve carried out a lot of research and it’s clear that for business travellers, what’s motivating them is the rewards at the end of it and what you can do with your points,” she said.
She said while airline partners will continue to be added to the programme, a ‘flights anywhere’ function will allow travellers to redeem their points on any flight globally, and follows the introduction of ‘points + cash’, much like airlines offer.
Mobile communications will continue to be a focal point, making it easier for executives to make and amend bookings on the road. She said its iPhone application has received 200,000 downloads since launch in April 2010.
“It quickly went up to the top 10 travel apps in the iTunes store. We did iPhones first, and are about to roll out an Android-based application for BlackBerries too.”
Other corporate developments include the imminent pilot launch of two new meetings concepts, Lobby Connect and Creative Meeting Spaces, in Dubai (Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City), London and Amsterdam.
“You’ll often see in hotel lobbies three people trying to have a quick meeting ahead of their client meeting – they’re finalising a powerpoint presentation, or agreeing what they want to say, and typically they’re under tight time pressures,” she added.
“So what we want to do is have an area where people can have access to screens, plug in your laptop and share it on a larger screen, and combine that with ‘meet and eat’ menus that serve food you can eat conveniently while you’re working.”
In the week that Crowne Plaza Deira – previously the Renaissance Dubai – officially opened its doors, Sheppard said two more will open at Business Bay and International Media Production Zone in the next two years, taking the brand’s tally in the city to five.
Asked if the brand had become saturated, she said each property catered to different demand drivers in different locations. “So if you’re here on business, there’s a Crowne Plaza near where you want to do business.”
Doha is another key growth area for IHG, with a second InterContinental coming on stream in West Bay before the end of the year, and Crowne Plaza set to open near the airport by the first quarter of next year.