Speech by Karin Sheppard Managing Director Europe, InterContinental Hotel Group at the Paris Asset Forum >hospitality
France continues to be the most visited country in the world and that can only continue, considering the objectives set by the government to reach 100 million tourists by 2020. This is excellent news for our sector as are the 2024 Olympics in Paris. The potential is enormous for the growth and the reinforcement of our existing brands and the launch of new brands.
Let’s discuss our existing brands on the luxury segment:
France has 6 InterContinental properties from the Carlton in Cannes that is undergoing complete to the Hôtel InterContinental in Bordeaux. In June this year, we inaugurated the InterContinental Lyon Hôtel Dieu. This was the private renovation project of a property that is listed among Historic Monuments. It is one of the oldest hospitals in France. The hotel has been well received by our guests this summer.
We also have projects in the center of Paris with the ongoing restauration of a similar property to for a banner under our Kimpton Boutique brand.
The midscale brands
We are consolidating our presence on the luxury segment in France and reinforcing our presence on the midscale.
For us, having brands that are perennial is primordial. We have certain brands that are among the best known in the world. We take great care to ensure that they continue to grow while adapting to the constantly changing expectations of consumers and investors.
We work in close collaboration with our owners to renovate all our Holiday Inn properties in order to integrate our new Open Lobby concept. We are improving our Holiday Inn Express properties with new generation rooms. This programme simultaneously takes into consideration the popularity and the renown of the Holiday Inn brand and the expectations of today’s travelers who fare looking for animated and contemporary spaces. This transformations have increased customer satisfaction scores and our owners’ revenues.
We are also making Crowne Plaza evolve with Plaza Work Space our new lobby concept, which is inspired by new trends in the business world, which is also in constant evolution. The first in Europe was recently launched here in Paris at the Crowne Plaza Paris République. This new concept meets consumer expectations since 70% of French employees want access to flexible workspaces. Plaza Work Space has been developed to meet this need by providing co-working facilities available for both customers and locals. This space also includes a new catering concept.
The evolution of our existing brands remains a major priority for us.
We have also identified opportunities to expand our portfolio. Last year we launched a new brand: voco (positioned on the upscale by IHG editor’s note). This brand marque corresponds to what clients want: unique charm with all the qualities and the coherence of a trusted brand.As there are many independent hotels in France, this represents a huge business opportunity. Owners can convert at their own pace to quickly enter the world of voco. They can thus benefit from IHG's assets and global power. Newly built properties have also been very popular with voco. Things are accelerating with the opening of 7 voco hotels worldwide and the signing of 16 others, including one in the Montparnasse district and very soon many others in France.
We recently acquired Two new brands in the luxury universe: Regent and Six Senses. Last year Regent Hotel & Resorts joined us with superb properties in Asia and two in Europe: Paris and Montenegro, with others to come. We are actively looking for opportunities In the leading European cities.
This year, we bought Six Senses Hotels Resorts & Spas, a brand that is built around wellness and sustainable development that is one of our upscale properties. It has exceptional properties worldwide and includes projects with very high potential including the recently announced opening of the Six Senses Vallée de la Loire.
Here in France and in our markets worldwide, what unites our 16 brands is our determination to obtain exceptional feedback and to remain our customers' preferred brands. Working in this direction is essential to strengthen ties with our owners. The foundation of these relationships is a global distribution system that places performance and return on investment at the heart of our actions.
First of all, there are mechanical elements that are essential to ensure proper functioning. For example, we all know that customers expect their travel experience to incorporate technology. We also know that our owners have the same expectations, as well as intelligent and efficient systems that evolve with the times. Last year we launched the latest IHG Concierto, a cloud-based technology platform that includes our customer reservation system. This platform provides owners with solutions for managing reservations, revenues and property data on a single platform.
We also seek to develop responsibly. We are waiting for governments to amend their laws to this effect. However, it is consumers who will push us to do so first. At IHG we work hand in hand with our owners to make our hotels as environmentally friendly as possible.
Let's consider plastic waste, for example. In addition to removing plastic straws from our properties, at the beginning of this year we became the first world-renowned hotel group to ask our brands to remove miniature toiletries. They will be replaced by rechargeable dispensers. Our owners' reaction has been very positive, so we know we need to take this a step further.
We also have a social responsibility, and investing in the markets where we work is also important to us. Our new partnership with Junior Achievement Worldwide is an example. It is one of the largest non-profit organizations focused on the integration of young people. We are collaborating with it in 9 major cities, including here in this property starting next month. We also ensure that we have the right people in the right place at the right time. That is why we have rethought our organisation and created a headquarters for Southern Europe here in Paris: to provide better support to our owners and hotels here in France. This is essential for opening new properties as quickly as possible and thus generating performance day after day.
A brand's success is closely linked to the experience you create and the way you operate as a company. Another crucial element is this: behind every IHG hotel opening is a trusted partnership. Some partners are new but many have a long history and each has shared values and quality commitments. This is the standard to which we adhere, it is what makes us proud. We seek and consolidate partnerships that grow and last for decades.
The growth potential of our sector is promising, customers are growing and disposable income is higher while travel is cheaper. All this allows us to envisage a future under the best auspices.
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