InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) introduced a new upscale hotel brand called "voco" on Tuesday.
The brand’s first signing will be the 388-room Watermark Hotel & Spa Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise, Australia. The property is shortly to be acquired by IHG's long-standing partner, SB&G, which currently owns five other IHG hotels in Australia. The hotel is due to open under the voco flag in late 2018.
Voco – meaning "to invite" or "to come together" in Latin – will then roll out across IHG's Europe, Middle East, Asia & Africa (EMEAA) region, with plans to expand the brand to the Americas and Greater China “over time.” In addition, several of the 13 high-end hotels IHG added in the U.K. – through an agreement with Covivio (formerly Foncière des Régions) – will be converted to the new brand in the coming months.
IHG entered an agreement with Covivio in May to rebrand and operate 13 luxury and upscale hotels in the UK.
IHG expects to open more than 200 voco hotels in urban and leisure locations over the next 10 years. Voco will focus primarily on conversion opportunities, working with “high-quality individual and locally branded” hotels.
“Guests will be able to enjoy the appeal of a more individual hotel, alongside the reassurance of a name above the door that they trust,” said CEO Keith Barr. “The versatility of the brand, means a voco hotel can retain and celebrate all of the elements that make that existing hotel successful.”
Though hotels will maintain their individuality, three critical moments “will differentiate the brand and can be consistently applied across a broad range of individual properties,” he said. They are:
- Come on in: A signature welcome experience, swift and simple check-in with an unexpected, locally influenced treat to kick off a guest's stay.
- Me time: Encouraging guests to take a moment for themselves with extra cozy beds and bedding, quality bathroom amenities, rejuvenating aerated showers, a variety of viewing content on smart TVs, and excellent connectivity in every room.
- Voco life: Vibrant and sociable bar and lounge spaces that work for different moments of the day, from offering a great coffee to start the day or shareable and classic dishes in the evening.
IHG has been looking to strengthen its foothold in the upscale and luxury markets. During the company’s fourth quarter earnings call, Barr said he saw an opportunity for an upscale brand that offers guests something “other than the traditional big-box hotel.”
"We've talked about the significant growth opportunity we see for IHG in upscale, and voco will help us deliver against this,” Barr said in a statement. The $40 billion upscale segment is expected to grow by $20 billion by 2025.
"With voco, the recent addition of Regent Hotels & Resorts in the luxury space, the launch of avid™ hotels in the Americas, and the work we're doing to enhance our existing brand portfolio, we're making great progress with our ambitious plans to accelerate growth," Barr added.