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Loyalty wars: IHG versus Hilton.

by Rajul on February 12, 2010

Executives at InterContinental Hotels Group seem to have no hesitation in attacking Hilton while it is down!

InterContinental Hotels Group has not hesitated in attacking big rival Hilton while it is down!

Both IHG (which owns the Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo, InterContinental and Crowne Plaza brands among others) and Hilton have lots of London hotels.

For members of their excellent loyalty schemes, the ability to cash in points is essential.  Which is why we’ve already helped identify the best Hiltons and best IHG hotels in London based on their TripAdvisor reviews.

So it was surprising to see Hilton penalise its loyal HHonors card holders recently by “moving the goalposts” and devaluing points already accumulated by some of its most loyal customers.  This looks a bit of an own goal, especially as competitor IHG is noted for its nimble marketing.

True to form, IHG is now smartly offering an incentive to capture disgruntled Hilton scheme members through a special “Luckiest Loser” promotion.  They’ve even set up a special website to promote this.

Hilton’s move is particularly hard to understand in an economic downturn, just as hotel guests are becoming much more value-conscious.

Hilton Canary Wharf is one of two London Hiltons that rank very highly on TripAdvisor

Hilton Canary Wharf is one of two London Hiltons that rank very well on TripAdvisor

Check the best rate for Hilton Canary Wharf from 30+ hotel booking sites

It’s odd too because Hilton currently does a bit better than its rival at the top of TripAdvisor’s London rankings: it currently has its Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf hotels in the top 20, whereas IHG has none (though if you go into the top 100 or 200 hotels, it is more evenly-matched).

But at least this sort of competitive battle between hotel chains – like the one at budget level between Travelodge and Premier Inn – is good news for consumers, if it ends up lowering excessive London room rates.

If Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group really want to gain a meaningful competitive edge, they should seriously consider offering free WiFi globally.

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Photo credits: Hilton Hotels.

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