Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) has introduced IHG Business Edge, a corporate travel programme designed for small and medium enterprises.

IHG says 1,500 companies had already signed up for the programme prior to launch. IHG Business Edge has been in development over the past year and took into account 2,100 global SME customers. It was piloted with 300 companies across 17 countries.

The programme is available for businesses with 250 employees and up to US$50 million in revenue and that spend at least US$5,000 annually with IHG. It gives them access to discounted rates at participating hotels across IHG’s portfolio of more than 5,400 properties across 15 brands. Participating travellers can also access the benefits of IHG Rewards Club Gold Elite status after completing their first stay.

IHG Business Edge is also designed to streamline the negotiation process and consolidate data, content and booking into a single customer portal.

Travel managers can monitor travel data including hotel spend, room nights, average daily rate, savings and IHG Rewards Club participation over the previous 12 months. IHG says it is planning future enhancements that will allow the portal to serve as a ‘gateway’ to a community where managers can access a content centre with business tools, articles for continuing education and a forum to connect with fellow SME travel managers.

Derek DeCross, SVP of global sales at IHG, said: “We knew that there was an unmet need for a travel buying programme specifically designed for SMEs – a group of customers who can often be underserved by the industry. We worked together with SMEs to design the programme and they told us that a discount programme alone is not compelling enough to drive their loyalty and engagement. They didn’t want lengthy negotiations – but rather a rich discount they could count on, reliable reporting and insight into the latest information, as well as access to a diverse corporate network of other ‘similar’ organisations.”

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