Tamara, an IHG Director of Marketing, talks to ITCM about supporting 65 Crowne Plazas and Holiday InnsTamara Strauss has 622 meeting rooms to offer. Not in a single location, but distributed amongst 65 hotels. They are all Crowne Plazas or Holiday Inns in the UK and Ireland and she is their Director of Marketing.
It is a complex responsibility, as, although they are all within the IHG Group (InterContinental Hotels), they have different owners. They also vary in size. The Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum, with 906 rooms, is currently the world’s largest Holiday Inn, even including those in the USA. That hotel alone has 11 meeting rooms offering 9,000sqft of flexible space.
‘The internet’, Tamara confirms, ‘is getting more emphasis. We have invested substantially, for example, in creating or improving 65 websites, one for each property and aiming in each case at its market within a 20-mile radius.’ She explains, too, that the impact of social media is now huge for both the collection of information by clients and also to allow them to make bookings more conveniently and rapidly.
‘MICE business, along with f&b’, she goes on, ‘already accounts for about 30% of total revenue and it is a sector that we are planning to increase.’
An aspect of Tamara’s approach to group organisers that has been successful is the Loyalty Programme. On a cumulative basis, rewards are won when certain target levels are reached. These are usually in the form of prizes associated with social media, such as Kindles and iPads.
Within the IHG group’, Tamara says, ‘a lot of work has been done to research and evaluate a guest’s total experience, from seeking information about a property, to making a booking, checking-in and checking-out – what we term the “full customer journey”. We have aimed at making the experience as intuitive as possible, so that after each step of the way, the next step is obvious and hassle-free.’