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InterContinental Hotels revs up mobile rewards focus via Uber partnership

InterContinental Hotels Group is the latest hospitality marketer to join forces with Uber, allowing new users to receive a rewards points bonus for signing up and integrating ride-hailing abilities into the IHG mobile application.

United States-based InterContinental Hotels customers that sign up for new Uber accounts will receive a welcome bonus of 2,000 IHG Rewards points, as well as a $20 discount to use toward their first ride. As more hotel brands team up with ridesharing services, travelers will become accustomed to enjoying a slew of transportation options in addition to booking functions within hospitality brands’ apps.

“Any mobile app requires ecosystem partnership to drive loyalty and stickiness,” said Gary Schwartz, president and CEO of Impact Mobile, New York. “Other hotel chains, such as Hilton, have teamed up with Uber to allow guests find their hotels and then explore the area.

“IHG is adding loyalty points.”

Digitally-driven partnerships
Regular customers of InterContinental Hotels will have the ability to book Uber rides directly within the IHG app, providing easy transportation when vacationing in new locales. This option also removes the need for consumers to rent a car while staying a hotel, allowing them to travel spontaneously via Uber vehicles.

The IHG Rewards Club is seeking to provide the most innovative experiences for loyalty members by placing a spotlight on mobile. Offering services that cater to digitally-savvy travelers is a tried-and-true method for many hotel brands, especially as more consumers turn to their smartphones to book and plan trips.

From this week onward, travelers in the United States who have not yet signed up with Uber will receive 2,000 IHG Rewards points upon opening an account, as well as $20 off their first ride. This promotion may easily garner a plethora of new customers for the ridesharing service and also pull competition away from similar apps, such as Lyft and RideScout.

To take advantage of the new partnership, mobile users are asked to download the IHG app or update the current version. They may then follow directions to book a stay at an IHG property anywhere in the United States before tapping the Uber button to request a ride to the hotel.

Consumers will then be redirected to the Uber app, which will display the hotel’s address automatically. If Uber is not already downloaded on a customer’s device, he or she will receive an app install link instead.

New Uber customers will earn a $20 off discount for the ride. All consumers will receive a digital voucher code on behalf of Uber via email, containing 2,000 IHG Rewards Club points which can be saved within an existing account.

Members may redeem these points toward a future booking at any of InterContinental Hotel Group’s more than 4,900 properties worldwide.

Keeping up with collaborations
More hotel marketers are realizing the potency of implementing relevant cross-partnerships with other major brands. It no longer suffices to offer bare-bones booking options for hotel stays, as consumers are clamoring for the ability to manage and pay for their entire travel experience within a singular app.

InterContinental Hotel Group’s 2015 Trends Report revealed that travelers are seeking more than a streamlined transaction when it comes to connecting with their favorite marketers. They are looking for rewarding relationships that underscore efforts to maintain brand loyalty over a longer period of time.

One way to fulfill this goal is to provide real utility to customers. Individuals who are traveling for leisure or business often times need a ride to get from their transportation hub, such as an airport or train station, to their chosen hotel.

Instead of waiting in line for a taxi or spending more money renting a vehicle, consumers can order an Uber ride via the IHG app. Additionally, travelers will have the option to set “Ride Reminders” at the start of next year.

InterContinental Hotel Group is not the only brand benefitting from Uber’s growing popularity.

This past September, Hilton Worldwide opened its doors to usher in a partnership Uber by enabling guests to set ride reminders, request vehicles to and from nearby locations as well as explore local scenes via a digital guide powered by Uber within the HHonors loyalty app (see story).

“Basically, it is the same rationale for leveraging Google search or Google Maps,” Mr. Schwartz said. “The hotel’s core services (booking, room management) are limiting, and the hospitality brand needs a complementary set of tools to make for a compelling, one-stop destination.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York