InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG , whose brands include Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, saw an increase of 1.5% in revenue per available room in the first quarter, missing analysts' target of 2%.

Its shares were down marginally, about 1%, in morning trading in London.

CEO Richard Solomons said weak oil prices and an early Easter holiday affected many of the group's major markets.

Oil prices especially impacted revenue growth in the Americas, where revenue was down 10.3% in oil producing markets, compared with non-oil markets that saw growth of 3.2%. Sales in the Middle East were down by 10.4%.

In Europe, Germany and Russia were the bright spots, delivering mid-single digit growth. France was down 2.3% due to strong declines in Paris.

InterContinental reiterated that it would return $1.5 billion to shareholders at the end of the month by way of a special dividend.

Perhaps in response to furore over the impact of the merger between Starwood Hotels & Resorts  (HOT and Marriott International (MAR - Get Report) on rewards programs, InterContinental announced an expansion of its loyalty program. Loyalty members will be offered preferential rates if they book through direct channels.

InterContinental had been under the thumb of activist investor Marcato for much of last year. Reports said that the investor was pushing for a merger with Starwood. However, Marcato is said to have sold its stake in Intercontinental last year.