Holiday Inn unveils relaunch

9 Apr 2008 by Mark Caswell

Holiday InnThe Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) unveiled the long overdue rebranding of its Holiday Inn hotels this week, including a new logo, revamped lobby areas and bedroom offerings.

Covering both the Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express brands, IHG says that US$1 billion will be invested globally to rebrand the hotels over the next three years. The majority of this will come from owners and franchisees, although IHG itself says it will invest US$60 million to support the rebrand.

Speaking at the relaunch, chief marketing officer Tom Seddon admitted that the Holiday Inn brand had been in need of updating, and said that £10 million of research had been carried out prior to the rebranding, with 18,000 customer surveys completed.

He said: “The feedback was that the presentation of Holiday Inn was dated. It effectively hasn’t changed since 1982, and while guests liked some bits, it didn’t give them confidence in the brand and they felt we weren’t delivering on all of the basics.”

The result is a contemporary new logo, with the letter “H” on a green background and the Holiday Inn wording underneath. Hotel exteriors will get a facelift; with potted plants and benches by the entrances, and lighting on the outside walls to represent the two brands (green for Holiday Inn and blue for Express by Holiday Inn).

Inside, the lobby areas will be “decluttered”, with bright white reception desks flanked with lampshades and signature back walls behind. Holiday Inn has also jumped on the “sensory” bandwagon, with signature scents for each of the two brands, and global and region-specific music piped into public areas, including Sting, Carlos Santana, Kylie Minogue and Bruce Springsteen.

Rooms are to be refreshed rather than revamped, with white duvets and signature bed throws, while wraps around the pillows will detail choices from the brand’s well-known pillow menu. Bathrooms will be spruced up with enhanced amenities on a display tray, and a new curved shower rail and curtain will be added, which Holiday Inn says will let in more light.

As well as modernising the chains, IHG hopes the rebrand will bring greater consistency to the products – the group has stepped up its policy of removing properties that “no longer effectively represent the Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express brand names”, at a rate of 160 hotels (20,000 rooms) per year. It says the majority of this portfolio will be replaced by new hotels in the pipeline, with just over 1,000 properties under development over the two brands, over 90 per cent of which are new builds.

Franchisees have until the end of 2010 to make the changes to their properties, so guests can expect to see the new-look Holiday Inn gradually coming online over the next couple of years. At present there are no set plans for a wholesale revamping of the food and drink or leisure offerings, although Tom Seddon said that the rebranding was part of a “continuing journey” for Holiday Inn. Interestingly, the Holiday Inn Express brand has now overtaken its parent offering in terms of the number of hotels worldwide (1,808 against 1,382), with almost twice as many properties in the pipeline (712 versus 364).

Only time will tell whether the rebranding has gone far enough – rival Hilton is itself in the process of launching three new brands into an increasingly crowded UK market, with the four-star Doubletree by Hilton opening in April, the mid-market Hilton Garden Inn Luton North due this summer, and the economy offering Hampton by Hilton Corby North slated for 2009.

In other news, IHG is gearing up to launch two new brands to the UK market this summer. Its boutique, design-led Hotel Indigo offering will debut with a 68-room property in London’s Paddington area in July, while the extended-stay brand Staybridge Suites will open its first hotel outside the US in Liverpool this July.

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Report by Mark Caswell

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