Alumni, Hotel School, Noteworthy

Noteworthy: IHG’s Keith Barr ’92 talks to Hotel News Now on growth, tech strategies

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Overview

During a series of video interviews with Hotel News Now, Keith Barr ’92, CEO of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), talks about the mergers-and-acquisitions landscape around the hotel industry, the company’s Avid brand launch, and IHG’s new technology implementation.

Key Takeaways from Keith Barr’s interview:

Barr discussed the hotel industry consolidations over the past two years and talked about the benefits of IHG’s regional realignment, which will result in the creation of one operating division for Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

“There’s been consolidation taking place, and I think consolidation will continue,” Barr said. “Scale matters in this industry—it’s the ability to invest in the enterprise and technology.”

Barr says IHG has gaps in its brand lineup that could lead to more offerings.

“We’re going to closely look at our brand portfolio and determine how do we round it out appropriately so as to create value as a company, but value for our owners, too, making sure we’re very confident by putting one of these brands on the hotel is going to be a success for that owner,” Barr said.

Barr talked about the launch of Avid, a new brand of hotels designed to sit below the company’s Holiday Inn Express brand.

“It’s going to be the next big driver of growth for IHG, and I’m really excited about the work the team did to find a really sharp customer proposition,” Barr said. “When we looked at the customer segmentation in the U.S., we realized there was (a) $20-billion revenue segment, 14 million customers out there that were really dissatisfied with the current offering of the branded experience at that price point.”

Barr discussed the impact of the company’s new cloud-based guest reservation system, which he says will enhance revenue delivery via a more intuitive, easier to use interface when it fully replaces IHG’s legacy Holidex system by 2019.

“We’re going to have the ability to do things going forward that we just couldn’t dream of two or three years ago,” Barr said. “It’ll let us work in a service-based architecture working with different companies around the world that deliver different benefits.”

With all of its promise, though, technology remains the biggest challenge for the hotel industry, according to Barr.

“We really understand customer needs, we understand the customer journey (and) can build great brands,” Barr said. “It’s really understanding the technology trends and how you’re going to invest intelligently around the things that matter most to customers and owners. You can chase lots of shiny objects.”

Watch Keith Barr’s interview or read a summary of the conversation at Hotel News Now.


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