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Change is "Inn" at Holiday Inn

1 Dec 2007 by Ciprian Hirlea

Your feedback does count as it did to Holiday Inn, one of the world’s oldest hotel chains.

Taking seriously the opinions of 18,000 surveyed customers, the organisation is embarking on the largest brand rejuvenation exercise to take place in its 55-year history.

The US$2 million project will go beyond the look and feel of the brand to address today’s changing consumer preferences and demands. This marks the hotel group’s first product repositioning in 25 years, and first logo change since 1952.

“A comfortable stay” ranked high in the hierarchy of guest priorities, research findings showed. However, these also indicated that welcoming, friendly service and a fresh look were factors that travellers would consider in choosing a hotel or remaining loyal to one.

So what can business travellers – any traveller for that matter –?expect? Holiday Inn’s executive declare: a new service promise, an innovative guestroom, sleep and shower experience, a newly designed signature welcome exuding warmth and a new brand signage in blue and green communicating a refreshed upbeat feel for the Holiday Inn. All these will be progressively implemented over three years till 2010.

To date, there are over 3,100 Holiday Inns around the globe, so replacing signs will be a mammoth task with over 11,000 signs to be addressed. Owners and franchisees are also expected to invest US$1 billion over this period to carry through the brand relaunch and meet the newly-set service and quality levels. Their commitment will also be put to the test as hotels will be scored on brand and service standard compliance as Holiday Inns must score 80 and higher to qualify, while Holiday Inn Express must score 84 or higher.

Owners and franchisees however may take heart that the brand relaunch may result in a better rate premium as surveyed travellers have also clearly indicated that they would not mind paying more if they felt the offering was worth the money.

For a hotel brand (and chain) whose early expansion was tied to the growth of America’s motorways, the Holiday Inn’s global hotel portfolio now imprints the globe and its name resonates well with travellers the world over. For seven years from 2001 to 2007, Holiday Inn has won the business traveller’s vote as favoured best mid-range brand for hotel accommodation in BTAP’s annual Travel Awards. Its decision to embark on this massive change was indicative of the chain’s readiness to meet today’s demands of the traveller, the new travel landscape, changing times and technology as it continues unrelentlessly in its growth around the world.

In Asia-Pacific alone, there are presently 26,900 rooms within the 100 Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express properties. Another 60 is presently under construction and once completed will add another 17,500 rooms to their portfolio. In China, the current portfolio of 68 hotels will grow to 125 within the next year alone.

As this rebranding exercise shows, the customer is King.

Claire Lin

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