The history of the InterContinental Group is marked by the changing times and expectations of the customers. Two entrepreneurs who were precursors at the time, one English and the other American, each marked their era, their industry and brought to the group a part of their identity.
Over the last 25 years Hospitality ON has borne witness to the evolution of hotel groups. In celebration of this quarter century, we offer a look at their history through the data we have collected.
It was in Burton-upon-Trent, a British town associated for several centuries with beer brewing, that William Bass founded the Bass Brewery in 1777.
At the end of the 1960s, Bass developed its hotel offering with the launch of the Crest Hotel in 1969 and the acquisition of Holiday Inn International in 1988.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Juan Trippe, founder of Pan American Airways, created the luxury brand Intercontinental and opened the first hotel in Belem, Brazil, in 1949. This is similar to what happened at Le Meridien, founded a few years later by Air France, where the airline’s passengers represent the core target.
In 1981, Pam Am sold InterContinental Hotels Corporation (IHC) to Grand Metropolitan (based in UK) for $500 million. Seven years later, the hotel was acquired by the Japanese financial services firm ‘Saison Group'.
What changes and choices have made these two actors the largest hotel group for more than a decade? A look at four key dates of one of the leaders of the hospitality:
1998: Bass acquires InterContinental
In March 1998, Saison Group sold Intercontinental to the British Brewer Bass. Bass Hotels & Resorts then decided to move its headquarters from Atlanta to London in 1999. With roots and the headquarters now based in the United-Kingdom, the beer company hotel offering remains mainly present in the United States. The opening of the first StayBridge in Atlanta is thus a striking illustration.
Another move for Bass Hotels & Resorts: on the eve of the opening of the Olympic Games in Sydney, te operator takes over The SPHC Group (59 Hotels), which has a strong presence in Oceania, giving it a new role in the Southern Hemisphere.
2003: Six Continents becomes Intercontinental Hotels Group
After changing the name for Six Continents, the company divides into two:
- Mitchells & Butlers takes the control of restaurant assets.
- InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) focuses on the hotel segment.
Thus, IHG proceeds to purchase Candlewood in the USA and develops its various brands.
Dee Cayhill, Head of Corporate Affairs, says: “We are particularly pleased to be, not only the hotel company with the largest number of countries, but also the largest number of rooms. This is great news for consumers who now have an unparalleled choice of hotels and destinations to visit.”
2004: Beginning of lifestyle with Indigo
In 2004, the British group became the largest hotel group in the world with nearly 540,000 rooms. To maintain growth of the group in the coming year, a new at moderately priced ‘lifestyle’ brand is launched. It is again in Atlanta that the first hotel is inaugurated, like the first StayBridge in 1998.
At the same time, IHG continues its process of real estate divestment and focuses on its goal to become a pure operator and franchiser. In its domestic market, the group put more than 70 properties up for sale. This assets disposal strategy, which it adopted worldwide, brings in nearly £1.75 billion, which is partly distributed to shareholders.
2008: Holiday Inn benefits from a renovation plan
The British group remains firmly anchored in its position as global leader acquired in 2004. It is now fully focused on management contracts and franchising. The revival of Holiday Inn brings a breath of fresh air to the group with 300 properties that have already benefited from the renovation plan announced the previous year. The upgrading of the brand is accompanied by a rationalization of the supply in the United States. Holiday Inn Express is in full growth enjoying its positioning on a segment that was growing worldwide at the time.
Finally, other events marked the year 2008, such as the arrival of the long-stay brand StayBridge Suites and Indigo in Europe, as well as the entry into the timeshare market in September with Holiday Inn Club Vacations.
2016: The group loses 1st place in the ranking and remains at the forefront of IT
The group lost its 1st place worldwide in terms of hotel supply, but Richard Solomons, the CEO of IHG, announced that the group’s growth is again marked by a record year.
Distribution is a key focus with mobile digital sales exceeding the $1 billion mark this year. In 1965, for example, Holiday Inn launched ‘Holidex’, the world’s first computerized hotel reservation system, which became the first hotel reservation system directly linked to airlines in 1977. Twenty years later, in 1995, Holiday Inn connected to travel agencies by creating the world’s first hotel reservation system on the Internet.
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