Whitbread, the ‘Eat, Sleep and Drink' hotel, coffee-shop and restaurant chain, is successfully bucking the downturn with its Premier Inn hotel chain increasing its number of business users and its Costa Coffee chain increasing sales.

IS and change director Andrew Brothers recently stepped up to take overall responsibility as former CIO Ben Wishart moved upstairs to become COO International for the group's Hotels & Restaurants unit. As well as running Premier Inn and Costa, Whitbread also operates the Beefeater chain as well as other brands.

In an interview with CIO in early 2010, Brothers said extending business intelligence capabilities, getting tight with marketing (for example for the firm's website) and delving into social media to attract the next generation of hotel users are key challenges, as is supporting the company's ventures in India and other offshore locations.

Most of Whitbread's IT is currently outsourced with finance and accounting handled by Steria, Ceridian managing payroll and HR, and Cognizant looking after helpdesk. UK IT headcount is under 50.

Technology investments in recent years have included online check-in akin to budget airlines for its hotel chains.