IHG Business Edge will provide SMEs with, yes, a competitive discount on hotel rates worldwide but also the opportunity for their employees to achieve IHG Rewards Club’s Gold Elite status after the first IHG Business Edge stay. An online sales service portal also will give SME travel buyers and arrangers access to stay reports and data and will connect them to an online networking community of other SME travel buyers from around the world. IHG SVP of worldwide sales Derek DeCross said IHG Business Edge is built by SMEs for SMEs. IHG consulted with 2,000 individuals from 76 countries to understand what they’re looking for from a hotel company’s SME program. “Their view was that a discount program alone was not compelling enough to drive their loyalty engagement,” DeCross said. “What they were really looking for was a partner that understood the small business and could provide them with meaningful resources and content that they couldn’t get on their own. They also felt isolated and wanted networking opportunities with organizations that looked like their own and faced similar challenges.” IHG piloted with 300 accounts from 17 countries beginning in December 2016 and now is launching the program formally. At the start of August, prior to formal announcements and marketing, IHG Business Edge had 1,300 SMEs signed on. Get the full story at Business Travel News