IHG looks at Express, Upmarketing Crowne Plaza

InterContinental Hotels is in advanced discussions with property developers as it plans to bring its mid market Holiday Inn Express brand to Australia and New Zealand.

Bruce McKenzie, IHG Australasia COO, says there were definite opportunities to develop properties locally in the mid market sector and predicted a launch date in the local market of 2013.

“We are in active discussion with a number of developers in locations around Australia and although there is nothing concrete, those discussions are looking quite favourable. They will be new build properties. The definite product presentation of Holiday Inn Express made it difficult to convert existing buildings to the brand.

Already entrenched in rolling out a renewed focus that includes an emphasis on staff training and an improved bedding program for the Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts brand, InterContinental Hotels Group has announced a goal to reposition the brand to the upper-upscale segment.

In doing so, the franchisor will take a hard look at each of the nearly 400 hotels in the portfolio and expects about 40 hotels, or 10% of the brand, won’t fit the standards for an upper-upscale product and will be removed from the system.

“We’re following what we call our ‘rest to best’ strategy where we want to get all of the hotels to move up to where the top-performing hotels are,” said Janis Cannon, VP of global brand management for Crowne Plaza and Hotel Indigo. “There are plans to remove hotels from the system. It’s either move up or move out.

“Crowne Plaza needs to step up from the lower position to fully upper upscale so it can compete effectively with Marriott, Hyatt and Sheraton full service. In certain locations the product is not up to that. Now IHG is executing a multi-year project to make sure that’s right. They’re going to be bringing the brand into that competitive position.”

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