A Word with GHN Advisory Board Member Keith Barr
2019 Priorities and Growth Aspirations
In February 2018, we defined a clear set of new strategic initiatives for our business, designed to help IHG achieve industry-leading net rooms growth over the medium term. This includes evolving our family of great brands, and further strengthening our portfolio where we see the biggest opportunities.
Together, these initiatives will help to accelerate our growth. We’re focused on investing behind them and we’re already seeing a big impact. We reported our best performance for both openings and signings in a decade in 2018, which shows that our owners like what we’re doing, and there is real energy about the business.
Evolving our portfolio of brands for guests and owners
The ongoing investment we’re making in our established brands is paying off, with the Holiday Inn® Brand Family driving almost half of our total signings last year. InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts is the world’s leading luxury hotel brand with more than 200 open hotels, and our boutique brand, Hotel Indigo® has reached 100 open properties. We’ve also driven the international expansion of our luxury boutique brand, Kimpton® Hotels & Restaurants, which has now secured a presence in 14 countries around the world, with key destinations including London, Bangkok, Tokyo and Mexico City.
We are continuing to innovate, with two new brands launched in the last 18 months that will meet owner and consumer demand in high-growth, high-value segments. In mainstream, we launched avid™ hotels, which has seen phenomenal demand from our owners in the Americas, alongside an MDA and recent signing in Germany, which is a key market for us. Our new upscale brand, voco™ offers a different avenue of growth for IHG and owners, principally focused on conversion opportunities. The brand is attracting strong interest with hotels open in the UK and Australia, and signings ahead of expectations.
To further support our growth, we’ve been clear that we will look at opportunities to enhance our portfolio. Our acquisition of Regent® Hotels & Resorts last year, and Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas in February, were key moments in rounding out the top-tier of our luxury portfolio. We’re now preparing for the launch of an all-suites upper midscale brand targeted at an $18bn industry segment in the Americas where guest and owner demand has driven a substantial increase in room supply over the last four years.
As our industry evolves, so must we, and investing intelligently in technology to transform the way we do business and provide the right platforms to deliver revenue to our hotels is essential. In 2018, we completed the roll-out of the industry’s most sophisticated cloud-based platform, IHG Concerto™. This gives IHG a strong foundation to build out our technology architecture over the coming years. The ongoing development of our Guest Reservation system, a core part of IHG Concerto, will give guests the opportunity to customise their stay, and owners the ability to unlock value, by optimising prices for different room attributes. We’re developing this functionality now and we’ll be piloting throughout 2019 with a view to rolling out to a select number of hotels towards the year-end.
Our diverse team is delivering for guests and owners
As a growth company, the dedication of our 400,000 colleagues is vital, and it is important that we have the right talent in place to support our growth as our business and the wider industry continuously evolves. This includes being an organisation that is committed to welcoming and including people of all backgrounds. We were proud to have recently been listed as a 2019 Best Place to Work for LGBTQ equality by the Human Right’s Campaign Corporate Equality Index, and several initiatives led by our newly formed Global Diversity & Inclusion Board will ensure further progress for a fair and balanced workplace.