With noquick recovery expected for business travel next year, one of the waysthat InterContinental Hotels Group plans to approach 2010 is bytargeting leisure travelers. InterContinental runs brands including theHoliday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Crowne Plaza.
At itstoned-down annual U.S. convention at Washington D.C.'s conventioncenter yesterday, IHG exec Steve Sickel told the audience of about2,000 people - mostly IHG hotel owners - that "leisure business is nottoo bad right now."
Weekend business is down year-over-year by 3%, compared to 7% for mid-week business, he said.
Andleisure travelers are trading up into more expensive hotels - insteadof down, like business travelers, he said. So that means more peoplegoing from economy chains to moderate chains, like IHG's Holiday Innand Holiday Inn Express hotels, Sickel said.
"They're trading up to get a litltle bit more value," he said.
SoIHG is responding with "a slew of programs" designed to attract allsorts of leisure-oriented travelers, including wedding parties, sportsteams and others. This year, IHG even targeted its own employees.
"Werolled out a friends and family program using employees to promote adiscount program to their friends and family," he said. "It was amassive success. 72,000 employees. We booked $26 million of businessfrom it so far. That's not bad for a promotion that really cost nothingto put together and promote."
Sickel said they plan to offer leisure travelers more season deals and more rates, like 14-day advance purchase rates.
"Leisure is a very, very big focus for us in 2010. We have big plans to take advantage of it."
I'llbe attending the final day of the IHG conference at the conventioncenter today, and will report back to you later today and tomorrow...