Above: IHG's Priority Club Rewards | Private Online Community Home page.
As LiveWorld's analysis | paralysis paces into day 28, and Marriott's lead in the Hotel World Network poll, Which Brand Has the Best Loyalty Program? slips 20 plus % points from a high of 63% to the nadir of 43%, the InterContinental Hotels Group's Priority Club Rewards Community created in collaboration with Communispace gains positive ground.
A recipient of the Forrester 2008 Groundswell Awards, IHG's Priority Glub Rewards Community is built to engage.
The Homepage shown above features Activites, People and Resources including some very logical functions like Browse.
Clearly focused on delivering newsworthy content to a veteran roadwarrior and loyal audience, the center of the homepage is organized around features prepared by the community facilitators.
Easy to navigate, the right-hand column lists new messages posted to the forum since the member last visited.
What is the intent of IHG's Online Community you might ask? According to Forrester,
"IHG wanted to test advocacy among some of its most loyal customers using minimal budget to drive incremental revenue. The Priority Club Rewards Community that IHG created with Communispace in 2007 was the logical place to test this new "twist" on word of mouth. For the advocacy viral marketing test, a select group of 150 community members were chosen to participate in an exclusive friends and family promotion. The 150 PCR members were emailed an invitation to earn triple points for each three night stay at any IHG Hotel worldwide between May 1st and June 15th 2008—with as many stays as they would like during that time period. In the email, each member was given a redemption code for themselves to use, along with three more codes to pass along to friends and family.
The IHG Triple Points Promotion drove a quarter of a million dollars in incremental revenue in just six weeks. IHG was able to target some of its most loyal hotel customers efficiently by utilizing its existing online customer community where members have been deeply engaged with the IHG brand over a long period of time. The 150 PCR Community members passed on the codes at a rate that generated more than 2,800 registrations for the promotion—a more than ten fold reach, and members were able to earn an amazing 7.2 million points in total. The campaign, which was given to US-based private online community members, quickly spread to more than 30 countries—including Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Lithuania, and Malaysia. As a direct result, IHG reached customers who they might not have been able to—and it did so without any advertising, marketing, or support costs typically incurred with traditional promotion strategies."
For more about the groundswell and the IHG | Communispace success story, see Groundswell Awards 2008