At a time when many companies are making travel less convenient and less customer-friendly, IHG announced a wrinkle to its Priority Club program that every member will love. Hotels Anywhere, IHG's Macy's and Gimbels-type initiative, allows Priority Club members to redeem their points, or combine points and cash, to book hotel stays at tens of thousands of hotels, even direct competitors.
Working with its tech vendor, ezRez Software, IHG created a website members can use to find, assess quality and book rooms at hotels around the world. Even with 4,400 properties worldwide, IHG confesses it isn't everywhere (on the Hotels Anywhere website, the company cites Las Vegas, Hawaii and the Greek Isles as examples of destinations where it has little or no presence), but customers can still visit anyplace they want to go.
Marketing purists will say this is business suicide, that a company should never direct its customers to a competitor. But in today's consumer environment, where the public feels travel companies aren't giving them the love they deserve, a gesture like this can go a long way to convince travelers that some companies (in this case, IHG) do care about their customers.
A smart move.