InterContinental Hotels Group reached a milestone of 5,000 hotels globally this month with the opening of Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York two weeks ago. For comparison, the combined Marriott-Starwood hotel chain will be around 5,500 hotels globally.
IHG has an interesting history, developing out of the British government’s 1989 move to limit pub ownership by major breweries. When my wife and I honeymooned in London in March 1989, one of our main interests were pub crawls. What we were surprised to learn at the time is most pubs were owned by breweries and only served the brewer’s beer brands. Tasting different brands of British beers meant walking to different pubs (we never got so hammered we had to actually crawl). These days most London pubs offer a variety of five or more different brands of beer on tap.
1989 – The Beer Orders legislation is passed. This limits the number of tied pubs that major brewers can own and signals a major industry restructuring.
Bass reduces the number of pubs that it owns dramatically and focuses on larger outlets. At the same time, it directs cashflow into developing an international hotel business.
In 1990 Bass purchased Holiday Inn hotels in a business move to diversify its holdings. In 1991 the Holiday Inn Express launched and in 1993 Crowne Plaza to fill the upscale hotel market segment.
After a major expansion of Bass through acquisition of Carlsberg-Tetley Brewing UK was blocked by the government, Bass put more resources into its hotel business. In 1997, Bass sold its hotel properties, while maintaining control of franchise branding of Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Crowne Plaza.
Hotel brand franchises are now the standard operating procedure for hotel brands. Most chain brand hotels are independently owned and franchised through lodging companies like Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International, Starwood Hotels and InterContinental Hotels Group. These companies control the franchise marketing and reservations systems through long-term hotel brand agreements without owning the actual hotel buildings.
1997 saw the launch of Staybridge Suites, an upscale extended stay brand. The apartment style lodging brand had rapid growth in the US.
In 1998 Bass acquired InterContinental Hotels, a brand launched by Pan American Airways in 1946 with U.S. government support to provide luxury hotels in places the airline served.
In 2000 Bass Brewers was sold to a Belgium brewer and the hotel segment of the company renamed to Six Continents, PLC. The hotel business expanded with the acquisition of UK and European hotels to be converted into the existing brands of Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza.
In 2002 Six Continents further separated its business holdings and announced the creation of InterContinental Hotels Group, which becomes a distinct hotel industry company on April 15, 2003.
2003 also saw the launch of Candlewood Suites, a midscale extended stay market brand. Hotel Indigo launched in 2004 as an affordable boutique brand.
2006 sees IHG move into the Japan hotel market with an All Nippon Airways joint venture IHG ANA Hotels Group Japan.
I wondered for years why hotels in Japan were called ANA. I never studied IHG history in detail before writing this post.
In 2007 IHG announced a major Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express brands refresh. I remember the Holiday Inn Henderson NV was where I photographed the new hotel brand signs for the first time for Loyalty Traveler blog.
Loyalty Traveler – Holiday Inn may shed 300 hotels in 2010 (Nov 14, 2009).
2010 saw IHG partner with Las Vegas Sands Corporation to brand The Venetian and The Palazzo as InterContinental Alliance Resorts.
2011 introduced IHG’s Best Price Guarantee benefit of one free night for comparable lower rates found through an online travel agency. I have received that free night benefit on several IHG stays since 2011, but personally I find it kind of difficult to locate rate discrepancies for IHG brand hotels.
2012 was the launch of IHG’s EVEN Hotels, focused on wellness and healthy travel. The brand has been slow growing. IHG as a hotel chain opens a new hotel somewhere in the world about every other day, yet I still have not seen an EVEN Hotel. There are only five hotels open to date with the recent opening of EVEN New York Times Square. You can read a review of the hotel’s opening party and see room photos on Will Run for Miles – EVEN Hotel Times Square, NYC: Opening Party, Room and Fitness Review (Jan 22, 2016).
2012 also saw the launch of HuaLuxe Hotels and Resorts for the China market.
In 2013 IHG introduced free internet for all members worldwide, a trend that has been picked up by most global hotel chains since then.
In December 2014 IHG acquired Kimpton Hotels, the small size U.S. boutique hotel chain.
December 2015 IHG surpasses 5,000 hotels worldwide.
This is the first time I noticed Kimpton Hotels listed as an IHG brand in a graphic. Kimpton is not shown as an IHG brand on the hotel chain’s homepage.
The current IHG Rewards Club Accelerate promotion is one of the best offers out there for hotels stays through April 30, 2016.
Loyalty Traveler – IHG Rewards Club Accelerate 2016 Jan 1-April 30 promotion open for registration.
Loyalty Traveler – IHG PointBreaks Jan 25-April 30 Hotel List hotels for 5,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night.