New AI-Powered Trip Planner from InterContinental Hotels Group to Offer Personalized Travel Recommendations

The new IHG Hotels & Resorts trip planner will offer personalized travel recommendations to mobile app users.
By Lea Mira, RTN Staff Writer - 5.30.2024

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), a global leader in the hotel industry, and Google Cloud are extending a partnership aimed at enhancing customer experiences within the IHG One Rewards mobile app. Leveraging Google Cloud’s technologies, IHG reportedly plans to introduce an AI-powered travel planning feature that will enable guests to plan their vacations directly through the app. This feature is part of a suite of new offerings set to launch in the latter half of this year, aimed at creating a more dynamic digital guest experience.

The new IHG Hotels & Resorts trip planner will offer personalized travel recommendations to mobile app users. “In collaboration with Google Cloud as our AI innovation partner, we aim to simplify and enhance trip planning for prospective travelers,” said Jolie Fleming, Chief Product & Technology Officer at IHG, in a press statement. “Our customized travel planner, powered by GenAI, will assist users in discovering destinations among our 6,000+ IHG hotels across 19 brands in over 100 countries.”

The IHG One Rewards mobile app will soon serve as a comprehensive mobile travel companion, allowing guests to build a full itinerary and book hotels with just a few taps. The Travel Planner will cater to both broad and specific requests, from late-night dinner options near a specific hotel to whether a hotel allows pets, or even event recommendations near a hotel on a specific date.

Investments in the IHG One Rewards mobile app and technology to support IHG’s loyalty program are key components of IHG’s strategy to enhance customer loyalty and engagement. Collaborating with Google Cloud will enable IHG to rapidly deploy features that resonate with guests. The Travel Planner will be developed using Vertex AI, Google Cloud’s AI platform, and Google’s Gemini models.

Google Cloud became IHG’s cloud provider in 2022, when IHG migrated components of its data to BigQuery, a fully managed, serverless data warehouse. IHG’s decision to utilize Google Cloud’s AI technology for its upcoming Trip Planner feature was influenced by a range of factors, including Google Cloud’s suite of AI technologies and Google’s broad ecosystem of consumer products and services, which will enable the creation of personalized experiences for travelers.

IHG continues to explore how secure technology innovation can drive increased investment returns for hotel owners and enhance guest experiences. This is the first announcement that Google is making about a hospitality company integrating its generative AI tech, according to Carrie Tharp, vice president of strategic industries for Google Cloud.

IHG is developing the tool using the Google Cloud platform for building AI software, Vertex AI, and the AI is derived from Google’s proprietary Gemini model. The partnership between the two companies began in 2022 when IHG migrated components of its data to the Google Cloud database. Google has played a significant role in helping IHG organize its data and create a foundation for new innovations.

IHG’s long-term vision is to ensure the tool’s core functionality is valuable and bug-free, with plans for regular upgrades. The chatbot will be able to answer general and specific questions based on Google’s wealth of information paired with IHG’s data. There could also be integrations from third-party travel companies for products like events and attractions bookings.

Google Cloud’s approach to cybersecurity, data governance, and privacy allows IHG to retain control over its data and ensures data and applications meet compliance and security standards, a key priority for IHG. Google Cloud’s responsible and ethical approach to generative AI also provides IHG with tools to directly review model responses for appropriateness and accuracy.

Technology has fueled several new offerings designed to enhance the guest experience. Last September, for example, the company announced the launch of a reimagined digital booking experience for its guests. The enhanced booking experience allows guests to select individual room attributes and personalize their stays with various enhancements. To date, more than 5,000 hotels offer guests the ability to choose the room attributes that matter most to them.

IHG has also invested in rebuilding each hotel’s website, recognizing that 40% of website traffic originates from these platforms. With over 80% of IHG hotels already boasting a new website, IHG continues its commitment to fully showcase the diverse offerings available to guests across its 19 brands.

The company has invested over $300 million in recent years in its technology platforms, including its guest reservation system, the recently-enhanced One Rewards mobile app, the all-new, websites for five brands, and cloud-based data analytic capabilities. IHG’s partnership with Apple, Amadeus, PPDSGroups360, and other leading technology solution providers has been key to implementing these next-generation cloud solutions.

These investments have resulted in a significant increase in revenue in North America and Europe. Looking ahead, IHG will continue its journey of technology innovation, constantly refining its technology and adding new functionality.