Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) is expanding its loyalty offerings for luxury travelers. Next year, the hotel giant which owns brands such as Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, and Intercontinental Hotels will expand IHG Rewards to also cover Mr & Mrs Smith hotels, a collection of boutique properties around the world.
Starting early next year, IHG Rewards members will be able to earn and spend points on over 500 at Mr and Mrs Smith properties; bonus points will also be awarded for elite members. IHG and Mr and Mrs Smith haven’t set a formal date for the integration.
In adding the properties to its loyalty portfolio, IHG is effectively doubling the number of luxury hotels to which its loyalty members have access. Traditionally, IHG as a brand has been heavy on the leisure side of the hotel spectrum with its reliance on brands like Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express. In the last several years, however, the company has moved upmarket. In 2014, IHG surprised the lodging industry by announcing its acquisition of Kimpton Hotels, a boutique brand popular with urban, luxury travelers. Just recently, the company also bought Six Senses, a luxury wellness brand, as well as a stake in Regent hotels.
Even with all of the acquisitions and investments though, IHG’s luxury footprint was relatively small compared to behemoths like Marriott. The addition of Mr and Mrs Smith’s properties into its loyalty program should help change that.
In a way, the new raft of hotels added to the IHG Rewards lineup is also a big part of keeping the company in competition with some of its peers. Chicago-based Hyatt, a smaller brand by volume, has been investing heavily in luxury brands and partnerships in a bid to capture more of the high end market; earlier this year it acquired Two Roads Hospitality while it’s also got an alliance with Small Luxury Hotels of the World, another group of 500 high end properties.
Marriott, too, has not been idle. In 2016, it launched its luxury group after completing the acquisition of Starwood. Even today the company is laser-focused on driving engagement through loyalty.
Just to keep up, IHG needs to ensure that its loyalty members have access to a decent range of luxury properties within its system. And with the Mr & Mrs Smith portfolio on its doorstep, it can guarantee its seat at the table.
Grant Martin [email@example.com] curates the Skift Business of Loyalty newsletter. He is also a director of product marketing at TripActions. Skift emails the newsletter every Monday.