IHG execs talk meeting needs and kinship economy

IHG president, Americas, Kirk Kinsell (centre) applauds the 68 Torchbearer Award winners, recognized for customer satisfaction.

IHG president, Americas, Kirk Kinsell (centre) applauds the 68 Torchbearer Award winners, recognized for customer satisfaction.

style=”float: none; margin: 0px;” src=”https://canadianlodgingnews.com/media/uploads/2013/11/05/956fbda6e6973cb35a2253551a7e8eba.jpg”>By Kristen Smith,
Assistant Editor, Digital Content

LAS VEGAS—In line with the “winning together” theme of this year’s IHG Investors and Leadership Conference held at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas last month, organizers invited Erik Weihenmayer to address the more than 7,000 attendees.
IHG president of the Americas Kirk Kinsell told the audience Weihenmayer “exemplifies out-of-the-box living.”
He went blind in his early teens and in 2001, climbed Mount Everest.
“I hate it when people tell me everything is possible,” said Weihenmayer, who said the sentiment detracts from what it takes to overcome barriers.
“I don’t see myself as that crazy blind guy. I see myself as a problem-solver,” he told the crowd. “There is always a solution, you just have to find it.”

Kinship economy
In the opening session, CEO Richard Solomons (pictured at right) also addressed the theme, as he spoke of kinship economy. “It crosses cultures, generations and religions,” he said. With family, work and travel models changing, “relationships are becoming even more important than ever.”  He said the success of the company’s nine brands will come from the kinship economy and keeping promises.
“In the kinship economy, brands are how we have relationships with guests,” said Kinsell.

A partner in good will
IHG recently announced its corporate responsibility targets for 2013-2017. With about half of IHG’s properties signed up for IHG Green Engage, the company hopes to reduce its carbon footprint per occupied room by 12 per cent. In connection to its IHG Shelter in a Storm Program, the company plans to contribute $10 million to disaster relief in monetary and in-kind donations.  
IHG announced a partnership with Goodwill Industries International on Oct. 29, which will see an expansion of IHG Academy (born in China in 2006 and expanded globally four years later) in the U.S. and Canada, starting with Toronto and Edmonton. The partnership will help IHG reach its target of providing skills and improving employability of 20,000 people by 2017.  
Goodwill IHG Academy will offer skills development, on-site experience and employment opportunities to those seeking employment in the hotel industry.
Kate Gibson, vice-president, corporate responsibility—sustainable communities, said with more than 1,000 hotels in the pipeline, IHG expects to recruit approximately 90,000 new employees over the next few years, including 30,000 in the Americas.

Thirty-five hotels in Canadian pipe
As of June 30, there are 35 hotels and 4,042 rooms in the Canadian pipeline, including a Hotel Indigo in Niagara Falls, ON slated for a 2015 opening, three Crowne Plazas, and a total of six extended stay locations (under the Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites banners). Also opening are 20 Holiday Inn Expresses and five Holiday Inns.
“Our three-year pipeline is not far off from what you would see from other similar brands,” said Angela Xavier, regional vice-president, sales, Canada. “It’s probably very consistent with other years.”
Solomons referred to legendary rock bands The Who and The Rolling Stones as examples of “serious sustained success,” noting, “Anyone can be a great host for one night. The challenge is to keep that going.” He said the success of these bands and the IHG’s brands (which date back to the 40s and 50s) is because both have made a habit of changing and remaining relevant.
As an indication of that success, comparable RevPAR for the Americas grew 4.4 per cent in the nine months prior to Sept. 30, with a 3.7 per cent increase in the third quarter of this year.
Update: According to IHG's third quarter interim management statement released Nov. 5, RevPAR growth softened in September to 2.1 per cent, as group business was slow to pick up following the earlier timing of certain holidays in the month, a trend experienced by the whole industry. The pace of U.S. growth was strongest in IHG's upscale and luxury brands, with third quarter RevPAR in the U.S. up 6.2 per cent for the InterContinental brand and 7.6 per cent for Hotel Indigo.

The Holiday Inn brands
Xavier said Canada has always been a strong market for the Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express brands.    
After the 2007 Holiday Inn relaunch, and with new campaigns for both brands, differentiation was on topic at during the IHG conference.
“The Holiday Inn brand is targeting the contemporary traveller, 25 to 44. Usually, they have kids and often they’re travelling for work or family time, but family comes first,” said Jo Allan, director of brand marketing Canada. “The Holiday Inn Express traveller skews slightly male, a little bit younger and typically it’s a productive short, rest stay.”

Crowne Plaza testing
Anywhere check in, breakfast-to-go, ready-to-eat menu items, in-room, single sign-on WiFi, healthy snacks and exercise services such as “run stations” are being tested in select Crowne Plaza hotels around the world, beginning in the U.S. and Europe. Successful initiatives will be rolled out into other hotels and markets next year.

Newest brand

IHG has announced four Even Hotel properties: two in Manhattan expected to launch mid-2015 and one each in Rockville, Md. and Norwalk, Conn., expected to open early next year.
According to IHG, 40 per cent (17 million people) of the mainstream travelling public are considered wellness-minded travelers.
Head of Even Hotels Adam Glickman told CLN, there are not yet firm plans for locations in Canada. Once developed in the U.S., the brand is being considered a global brand and IHG will be “placing the hotels in the feeder markets for wellness travel.”

IHG trade show 

Dan McCloskey, senior national accounts manager for illy, makes a sample for David Weiler, Turf Hotels.

Dan McCloskey, senior national accounts manager for illy, makes a sample for David Weiler, Turf Hotels.

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Stacey Uraniak (left) and Laura Romanowski, Kellogg's.

Stacey Uraniak (left) and Laura Romanowski, Kellogg's.

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Alyssa Weiss, Valley Forge Fabrics Toronto rep.

Alyssa Weiss, Valley Forge Fabrics Toronto rep.

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Chris Rhyne and Christen Mertes, Spectrum Aquatics.

Chris Rhyne and Christen Mertes, Spectrum Aquatics.

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