Holiday Inn owner tries to go upscale with more high-end brands
Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express continue to be the 800-pound gorilla in terms of brand recognition at IHG Hotels & Resorts.
But don’t discount the company’s other brands. They illustrate where IHG sees growth and offer new ways for travelers to experience the company and its loyalty program.
IHG’s budget-friendly Voco brand of boutique-style hotels just hit an important milestone by signing its 100th hotel deal. Now, 46 Voco hotels are open worldwide, and an additional 55 are in the works. This makes it the fastest-growing brand in IHG’s “Premium Collection,” which also includes Crowne Plaza and Even.
The Holiday Inn brand family still accounted for a third of IHG’s new hotel deals last year and half the new hotels that opened their doors. But the company is increasingly expanding with higher-end brands like Voco, InterContinental, Regent and Six Senses.
Today, luxury and lifestyle hotels — including brands such as Kimpton, Hotel Indigo and the Vignette Collection — only make up 13% of IHG’s overall size, the company reported last month. Luxury and lifestyle hotels now account for 20% of future development at IHG.
The growth comes as IHG acquired and launched several new brands in recent years, including Voco, the Vignette Collection, Six Senses and Regent. There’s also the company’s new partnership with Iberostar Beachfront Resorts, an all-inclusive resort offering that is now IHG’s 18th brand.
IHG CEO Keith Barr, over several interviews in recent years, likened the additions to filling in rungs of a ladder — it gives a more comprehensive offering to travelers and IHG One Rewards members.
“We do see our guests continuing to move across the rungs of the ladder with choices,” Ginger Taggart, vice president of brand management at Voco, told TPG this week. “It does give us an opportunity for different guests in different stay occasions.”
IHG’s next steps
Part of Voco’s success stems from the fact that it taps into the broader lifestyle trend gripping the hotel industry. While standardization was initially the name of the game with hotels (as in, your Crowne Plaza experience in Shanghai would be similar to what you’d get in St. Louis), the lifestyle push of today is more about localization.
While Voco isn’t officially part of IHG’s Luxury and Lifestyle Collection, it still has many elements you’d find in a lifestyle hotel. Guests get a locally inspired welcome treat at check-in (a Times Square location features sweets from a New York City-based chocolatier). Each hotel's food and beverage offerings reflect the surrounding area.
The team at Voco Kirkton Park Hunter Valley in Australia uses vegetables grown on the estate for meals served at the hotel’s restaurants. Voco The Hague has a program where a tree is planted each night a guest chooses not to have their room cleaned.
“There are lifestyle elements that are coming through many different categories of hotels today, including different premium hotels at IHG,” Taggart said. “They're all brought together by bringing that kind of local flavor and that relaxed, connected approach to service, which is what guests are looking for and where Voco comes to life.”
Where should you look if you want to experience Voco? IHG leaders clearly see this as a global brand, with openings this year slated for Surrey, England; Osaka, Japan; Da Nang, Vietnam; Queens in New York City; and Paris.
“We are definitely on a growth trajectory across all our brands and across the estate,” Taggart said. “We've gone from 11 brands to 18 brands in a five-year period, but all of them are very carefully focused to meet a specific guest and owner need, which enables them to not only scale quickly but scale globally.”
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