Peter Tippen is the InterContinental Hotels Group's (IHG) director of relationship marketing for Europe, Middle East and Africa and is responsible for the company's customer loyalty scheme, Priority Club Rewards (PCR). He talks to Janet Harmer about the launch of the PCR app for the Android, following the successful release of the iPhone app in April.
Caterer: The iPhone app and now the Android, what is the importance of keeping in touch with your loyalty club members via mobile phones?
Peter Tippen: It is hugely important. We have had 70,000 downloads of the iPhone app since its introduction at the end of April, generating a massive £1.5m in revenue.
We have always had a strong website platform for our priority club members and in order to provide more flexibility for our guests, it was important that we provided the information they needed through their mobile phones.
Caterer: What do the apps give PCR members?
PT:It provides them with easy and quick access to information, enabling them to access special priority club offers and their account balance. It also allows members to make bookings at any one of the seven brands of IHG hotels and view photographs and amenities for each property.
Caterer: How are you encouraging members to download the new app?
PT: We are offering 1,000 Priority Club Rewards bonus points to members for each qualifying stay up to 30 September that is booked using the Anroid app. Downloading the Android app, like the iPhone app, is free.
Caterer: How significant is PCR business to IHG?
PT: It is massive. Our guests take over 180m stays in 4,500 IHG hotels worldwide every year and roughly 40% of these are booked by PCR members. We currently have 48m members globally. PCR is the first, largest and fastest-growing guest loyalty programme in the hotel industry.
Caterer: How does PCR work?
PT: For every $1 (63p) spent, the customer receives 10 points, which then can be exchanged for free nights in our hotels, spent on food and beverage or used for purchasing a wide range of gifts and merchandising. The rewards are extremely flexible as they can also be used for purchasing tickets from around 300 different airlines or for booking hotels belonging to other companies - all which can be done via the IHG website.
The reason that we provide members with the option of booking into hotels belonging to competitor groups is that it directs guests to hotels in regions where IHG doesn't have a depth of properties, such as the Greek islands, Hawaii and parts of the Caribbean. Helping members in this way increases their loyalty to IHG in parts of the world where we do have a strong presence.
Caterer: How has PCR helped IHG during the recession?
PT: In the current economic climate, saavy business travellers are looking for added value and extras where possible. Through PCR, we reward loyal guests with promotions and offers. They can earn points on business and redeem on leisure. This is a real incentive for our guests and helps us to retain them in difficult economic times.
By Janet Harmer
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