InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), one of the world’s leading hotel companies, has now unveiled a 'next generation' guest experience for its Holiday Inn Express brand in Europe.

Based wholly on guest insight, Holiday Inn Express’s new guest experience is being developed with industry-leading experts to meet the changing needs of today’s ‘Smart Traveller’.

“A hotel room is no longer just a place to sleep and our approach to technology and service starts with understanding our guests and their needs across the entire guest journey"

In order to stay ahead of guests’ expectations, the hotel lobby, dining area and guest rooms are being redesigned, the brand’s service delivery completely revamped, and a new food and beverage concept tested. Focusing on offering the most innovative and efficient technological solutions at every stage, the latest smart technology is also being piloted.

Some of the key features of the next generation guest experience will be:
The Guest room:

  • Rooms are fitted with Smart TVs that enable guests to stream their own media from a personal device or log in to apps such as Netflix using the hotel’s Wi-Fi that’s included in the room price. 
  • The room also features a flexible work/rest corner where the traditional desk has been removed and replaced with a comfortable chair and table which can be moved around the room which has multiple usb ports to charge devices. 
  • A larger, cosier, bed with a padded noise-reducing headboard taking inspiration from a business class aeroplane seat takes centre stage. The bed is dressed with four pillows providing guests with two choices of pillows (two soft and two firm). 

Mobile check in: IHG Rewards Club members are able to check in through the IHG App or online prior to arrival. When they arrive at the hotel, guests are always shown their room location and its proximity to the stairs, elevators and emergency exits via tablet screens. Where possible, the guest is offered a choice of room.

The Express Café & Bar: an integrated lobby and food and beverage experience in Holiday Inn Express. The modern continental style café/ bar is an inviting ‘pit-stop’ for guests offering simple, honest food done brilliantly. Guests can choose to eat the localised Express Start breakfast in the Express Café & Bar or have it ‘to go’ by grabbing a take away bag. The Express Café & Bar offers all day food options which better fit guests’ need for fast and tasty food, on the go.

According to IHG's research, the ‘Smart Traveller’ is looking for a short stay hotel experience that is efficient and uncomplicated. They appreciate functional and thoughtful design but also see friendly and welcoming service as an important part of their stay. Working with IDEO (a global design and innovation consultancy), and Forpeople (an environments design agency), the Holiday Inn Express ‘next generation’ guest experience balances home comforts with smart design features to provide guests with an even better place to sleep, work and relax when they are on the move. 

“A hotel room is no longer just a place to sleep and our approach to technology and service starts with understanding our guests and their needs across the entire guest journey," says Mike Greenup, vice president, Brand Management, Holiday Inn Brand Family, Europe, IHG. "This investment in guest insight and innovation is enabling us to stay ahead of the game.”

Chris Grantham, brand experience portfolio director for IDEO London said: “From the outset we were excited by IHG’s ambition to create a hotel experience that was entirely based on guest insight. We put the Smart Traveller at the centre of the innovation process to learn about their digital, space service and food preferences - ultimately developing a signature ‘smart’ travel experience that is distinctive and valuable to travellers.”

"According to IHG's research, the ‘Smart Traveller’ is looking for a short stay hotel experience that is efficient and uncomplicated"

Holiday Inn Express is a brand grounded in global insight and each element of the ‘next generation’ experience is a direct response to guest feedback. As well as front line hotel staff, owners, and hotel experts, IDEO interviewed different 'Smart Travellers', both business and leisure, people who travelled on their own, or as couples and families.

They spoke to guests staying in IHG’s hotels and competitor hotels and spent time with guests in their homes, observing how they packed and what they packed for a short stay. The team walked guests through a full-sized mock up of the new Holiday Inn Express guest experience, which included acted-out service roles, digital touch screens, and food and beverage offerings. During each walkthrough, guests were invited to give feedback that was incorporated to refine the experience.

The ‘next generation’ for Holiday Inn Express will be launched in Europe and adapted for new build hotels and properties undergoing renovation. “We are aiming for at least one in every four of our European hotels to feature the latest Holiday Inn Express ‘next generation’ guest experience within the next three years, with the first hotel opening towards the end of this year,” says Mike Greenup.  

Intended to be the right choice for value-conscious business and leisure travellers, Holiday Inn Express’ proposition to guests is to be the smart choice when they are looking for a short stay, offering guests everything they need and nothing they don’t. Wi-Fi and an Express Start breakfast are included in the room price at every Holiday Inn Express hotel globally. Last year IHG signed 21 Holiday Inn Express hotels in Europe and opened 13.