Clock Ticking on 300 Holiday Inn Owners

By the end of this month, 1,400 Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels around the world will have completed their relaunch, leaving 1,300 properties in the North American system that haven’t finished the process. Seven hundred of those have paid for and are in the process of the overhaul and another 300 have committed and paid for at least one of the six new components. That leaves 300 properties left dangling, yet to commit to the largest brand renaissance in the history of the lodging industry as the Jan. 31 deadline fast approaches.

Gina LaBarre, IHG's vice president of brand delivery for North America, speaks during the Holiday Inn session at IHG's conference.

The message was loud and clear to those owners, many of whom were surely in attendance at last week’s InterContinental Hotels Group’s annual leadership conference in Washington D.C. “Completing the relaunch is the most important thing we will do in 2010,” Jim Abrahamson, IHG’s president of the Americas, told more than 2,000 attendees at the opening general session. “And we WILL do it by the end of 2010 … So we thank those of you who have made the commitment and for those of you who have not yet done so, what are you waiting for?”

Kevin Kowalski, the new senior vice president of global brand management for the Holiday Inn brands, said during an interview the following day he was a little more blunt in the Holiday Inn brands session. “My message was why wait,” he said. “The results speak for themselves.”

Kowalski, the former head of the Crowne Plaza brand, said a RevPAR increase of three to seven percent was forecast for relaunched properties and that number has been consistent. Guest satisfaction has increased two percent, as has the intent to return and recommend sentiment. He said although the cost is significant—at least $100,000 for a smaller Holiday Inn Express already in good standing, to as much as a million dollars for a larger property with some quality issues—“it pays off fairly quickly.”

Of the remaining 300 left uncommitted, Kowalski said one half haven’t met quality standards, but the brand wants to retain all 300. “We have some we don’t want, but those were the roughly 900 we kicked out from 2005-10,” he said. There are 1,000 Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels in the pipeline globally, with the bulk (745) in North America.

“So by the end of 2010, we will have an entirely new Holiday Inn system, with low-quality hotels leaving the system, replaced with high-quality new hotels and refreshed hotels entering the system,” Abrahamson said during the opening general session.

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