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InterContinental uses hotels as incubators and relies on the cloud

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InterContinental Hotel's Tom Conophy at GIgaOM Net:Work 2011InterContinental Hotels Group, the luxury hotel chain, has spent the last five and half years creating a technology platform for its business that helps it span multiple brands, cultures and continents, according to Tom Conophy, EVP and CIO of the hotel company. Speaking at the GigaOM Net:Work conference Thursday, Conophy explained that the team of developers built the platform themselves and it now acts as the back-end for everything from reservations to buying liquor from the minibar.

“A hotel is a microcosm of a corporation,” he said explaining how the company has a variety of different technology needs. However, he’s sensitive to the fact that InterContinental doesn’t own most of the hotels it manages, which means he doesn’t force technology down the throats of the hotel owners. Instead he lets different hotels act as incubators for ideas, believing that successful ideas will get adopted.

“We have research friendly hotels that want to the latest trick and that gets people’s attention,” Conophy said. From there it can spread like wildfire as one hotel owner talks to another. He went on to explain to any entrepreneurs hoping to get their foot in the door at the hotel chain, that they should be prepared to explain how they are different from their competitor and send someone who isn’t a “junior level salesman.”

He also predicted that the bandwidth in hotels would increase over time, although he didn’t get specific or explain if hotels would keep charging exorbitant rates for that access.

Photo by Pinar Ozger.

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