InterContinental Hotels Group's Jenni Kolshak on Customer Social Networks
TM: How does the community content strategy integrate with IHG's overall branding and marketing?
JK: One of our learnings that we've taken from the private community is that our members have really valuable things to say. So what we're looking at is some sort of content syndication ... maybe it's Priority Club Rewards members' top 10 travel destinations or top places to go on a budget. We're starting to look at how we package that content and then syndicate it, push it out from our partners—not necessarily sell it, but maybe trade content with our other partners.
We're finding that also some of what our members are doing and saying in our community, we can use that in our marketing materials. One of the things that's been very successful is using our member photos in our direct mail and e-mail pieces. So we might ask them to give us a photo of their dream vacation ... or really just any photo, and they've been very open about sharing their photos. We credit the member and also give them some Priority Club Rewards points.
They not only love seeing their photo out there, but it also saves us money on having to buy a stock photo. And in our view, it's also a little more authentic. I don't know the exact rate, but I know that we've had higher success rates [to marketing efforts] when using photos from members than with the typical stock photos.
TM: How do you coordinate promotional efforts across channels?
JK: One of the things we're trying to do with the community and that will draw people there is special community-only offers. Typically, we'll put up an offer that they're not necessarily going to see somewhere else. For example, we're running a great offer right now where if you stay two nights at any of our properties you can get one night free at any of our properties. So two nights at a Holiday Inn could translate into one night free at our InterContinental property, which is a pretty good deal.