Skift Take

The greatest challenge for travel brands is better understanding the nuanced differences that drive their customers' behavior.

Eric Pearson, chief information officer at InterContinental Hotels Group, spoke today at the Skift Global Forum.

Pearson began his presentation with IHG’s early years in 1952 when the brand established its value proposition based on its standards of consistency with the first Holiday Inn. More than 60 years later, the demand for personalization and unique guest experiences have supplanted the one-size-fits-all model, which is now the subject of much derision.


Pearson addressed the topic of “The Right Way to Talk to Different Demographics Across the Guest Journey.”

Here are the 10 things we learned:

  • The growing prosperity of the global middle class and continuing access to new markets is driving the demand for more personalized hotel stays.
  • China’s 67 million outbound travelers surpasses those in the U.S., and that number is expected to grow to 100 million in a few years.
  • That kind of growth is spurring the need for micro-segmentation of guest demographics and their demands.
  • The surging shift to mobile offers expanded opportunities to customize the guest experience. One in five IHG guests book with mobile, and 30% of those bookings are within less than 24 hours of arrival at the hotel.
  • Real time pricing and availability is paramount for all brands because of the rise in on-demand everything.
  • The Internet of Things, where everything is digitally connected in daily life, is beginning to become more popular in people’s work and domestic lives, so consumers are going to expect it in the travel industry.
  • “Big doesn’t beat small anymore. Fast beats slow.”
  • Travel brands can’t just focus on demographics anymore because they’re not true predictors of consumer intent. IHG focuses more on travel “occasions and needs.”
  • IHG is implementing more beacon technology to understand guest behavior and engage guests with services they are likely to want.
  • Travel brands need to engage guests throughout the entire guest journey, while focusing on three core brand principles related to guest communication: Make it meaningful, respectful and relevant.

Keep track of all the activity at this year’s Global Forum by bookmarking our #skiftforum tag.


And thanks to all the sponsors that made Skift Global Forum 2015 possible: Adobe, Amadeus, American Express, Boxever, Big Bus Tours, CendyneOne, Cheapoair, Criteo, Gogo, HelloGbye, Hornblower Cruises, MasterCard, Mindtree, National Geographic, NewsCred, Sabre, SiteMinder, Travel Channel, TurkeyHome, Uber, Underline, Virtuoso, and Yahoo.

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Tags: ihg, sgf2015, skift global forum

Photo credit: Eric Pearson, chief information officer, InterContinental Hotels Group, at the Skift Global Forum in Brooklyn, New York, on October 15, 2015. Skift

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