To grow sustainable

Hotel group Intercontinental (IHG) plans to open this autumn in Madrid the Indigo Hotel, one of the seven boutique hotels it has planned in the coming years for Southern Europe.

Nothing special, given that the group, which recently acquired the luxury brand Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, owns more than 5,000 hotels, has just announced its 400 unit in China and has more than 800,000 hotel rooms worldwide. In summary: in average launches a new hotel per day.

Keith Barr, IHG CEO was not begged to explain why the success: “The past few years have been incredible. When we think it might come to an end, another good year happens” for the all industry, he explained during the 19th World Travel & Tourism Council which runs until Thursday in Seville, Spain. “There is a fundamental need for travel and as long as there is global growth we [the industry] will grow even more,” he said.

For Keith Barr, sustainability – one of the key points of this T&T edition – is something that can not be stopped. Because, he explained, is “something the customer wants: that the hotels reduce the carbon footprint, the use of plastics … “.

Clients who, as a rule, advance “faster than governments,” the regulators, in the new demands. And because the volume of data is impossible to stop, particularly through social media, the large hotel groups have no other way than to comply.

Who knows data well is Mark Okerstrom, President & CEO of another multinational, Expedia.

Mark Okerstrom, President & CEO of Expedia.

It’s this gigantic volume of data, from banks, airlines, insurers, clients, that makes Expedia serve 750 million hits every month. And then to use that data to map trends of travelers and thereby produce alternatives of local experiences to them. While offering new choices and business opportunities to its clients, including… hotels. “When we started 22 years ago it was just business, “he said.

Many millions of dollars later, the evolution is almost natural and a kind of back to the past, at the time of the travel agent who knew the family to whom he was making travel reservations. “We are customizing through technology,” Okerstrom said.

Difficulty, he explains, is not the technological level that works thanks to the 6,000 engineers that the company has scattered around the planet. “It’s about having our 40,000 employees understand the interests of the customer” on the other side of software. And treat him/her as the person who is and not as the machine that he/she uses to to travel in comfort and carefree.

* Project Asia Corp. was invited by WTCC to the event in Seville

[Top photo: CEO of IHG,Keith Barr]