At a Glance

What they wanted to do:

  • Launch a more robust mapping solution with greater key functionality
  • Find and incorporate a more attractive mapping solution

What they did:

  • Integrated a more intuitive and interactive mapping solution with Google Maps

What they accomplished:

  • Realized increased conversion rates of 35% in key countries

"We had a 35 percent increase in conversion rates for our United Kingdom and Denmark sites immediately after launching Google Maps."

—Steve Sullivan, manager of web reservations, IHG

About Google Maps API

Google Maps API makes it easy for companies to include fully interactive Google Maps on their public and internal websites. The Maps API helps your customers and employees make the right business and purchasing decisions by visu-alizing important information on a familiar map.

For more information, visit https://enterprise.google.com/maps

"Google just keeps innovating all the time and staying many steps ahead of its competitors. It’s a business advantage to use and incorporate Google technology."

—Steve Sullivan,manager of web reservations, IHG

Leading hotel company uses Google Maps to enhance customers’ travel planning experience

Business

With a worldwide portfolio of more than 660,000 rooms in more than 4,500 hotels in nearly 100 countries and territories worldwide, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), the world’s largest hotel group by number of rooms, has been welcoming international travelers for more than 60 years. The company’s hotels span nine well-recognized and respected brands: InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn® Hotels and Resorts, Holiday Inn Express®, Hualuxe Hotels and Resorts®, Even Hotels®,Staybridge Suites®, Candlewood Suites®, and Hotel Indigo.

The InterContinental Hotels & Resorts brand has been the international hotel brand of choice for foreign dignitaries, heads of state, royalty, rock stars,celebrities and those seeking authentic and enriching experiences. The world’s first truly global hotel brand with over 60 years of insight, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts has played host to such well-known people as George V and Queen Mary, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace, Ava Gardner, Nat King Cole,Imelda Marcos, Margaret Thatcher, Louis Armstrong, President and Mrs.Reagan, President Chirac and Prince William - to name a few.

Challenge

In the travel and tourism business, location is often one of the primary factors in customers’ purchasing decision. Prospective guests want to know if a hotel is convenient to an airport , near where they will be conducting all-important business meetings, or located in the part of town where they want to go sightseeing or shopping.

For several years, IHG has offered mapping-enabled hotel locators on its sites, including IHG.com and HolidayInn.com, to help guide guests to their preferred hotel. The initial mapping solution, however, was lacking in key functionality. "Our previous maps were static. Customers couldn’t effectively pan or drag them to obtain the detail they needed. Plus, the maps just didn’t look very attractive in all instances," recalls Manager of Web Reservations Steve Sullivan. "We needed a better more effective way to enhance our customers’ experience."

Solution

Sullivan began searching for a mapping solution that was more intuitive and interactive – one that would provide data coverage for IHG’s hotels around the world. His search ended with Google Maps API for Business. The Google Maps API enabled the company to add easy-to-use interactive maps to its public websites worldwide, enhancing the customer experience by helping them to more quickly and easily find the IHG hotel to best meet their needs.

The company also used the Google Maps API to implement a geocoding system on InterContinental.com that enables customers to search based on the name of a place of interest or tourist attraction to find a nearby hotel. A guest could search on The Smithsonian, for example, and immediately determine that the Willard InterContinental Washington is located nearby.

Results

Sullivan notes that, despite IHG’s rather complex back-end systems, Google Maps API for Business was easy to implement. Now, customers visiting IHG’s sites can drag maps to see what else is located in the vicinity or click on markers to obtain hotel details like street addresses and driving directions.Customer and company reactions to the Google solution have been effusive. "We’ve received very positive feedback, especially from our regions and from our various brands since switching to Google Maps," says Sullivan."We have even gotten positive comments on our online forum from members of our loyalty program, Priority Club®Rewards."

Customers are staying an average of one minute longer on search results pages that have maps. Sullivan and his team gather statistics on how many people are investigating hotels by dragging a map or clicking on a marker representing an IHG hotel. Sullivan reports that about a million people each month interact with the maps, 75 percent of whom click on a marker. "It’s remarkable how many maps get loaded and how many people interact with them in some way," Sullivan says. "Clearly, Google Maps is useful and informative for our customers."

The bottom line for IHG, however, is how often people book hotel stays after interacting with a map. Sullivan reports that conversions have increased since implementing Google Maps – visitors to the site are 10 percent more likely to book a stay if they click on a marker than those who do not. "We had a 35 percent increase in conversion rates for our United Kingdom and Denmark sites immediately after launching Google Maps,"recalls Sullivan.

As they add new functionality, Google technology will continue to be incorporated into our technology offerings. "Google just keeps innovating all the time and staying many steps ahead of its competitors," says Sullivan. "It’s a business advantage to use and incorporate Google technology."