The Holiday Inn Express brand is in the Army now.
InterContinental Hotels Group, the British owner of the chain, has been given the go-ahead to complete the final phase of reflagging the last of the U.S. Army’s base lodging, the company is expected to announce Wednesday.
IHG began managing hotels exclusively under its flags for the Army in 2009 after the military arm decided to privatize its accommodations. But the switch-over has come in phases, with a handful of bases coming on board that year and another group changing management in 2011.
“Their primary objective was to create an environment with world-class service,” said Kirk Kinsell, president of IHG’s Americas operation, which is based in Atlanta. “They wanted to bring on post the comforts of home.”
Mark Woodworth, president of PKF Hospitality Research, which studies the industry, said there are a number of benefits to this arrangement.
“In one sense, this is an example of government working at its best,” he said, explaining that the Army looked for ways to run the operations more efficiently. “As a taxpayer, I like seeing this type of behavior.”
He said the deal will also help foster consistency in the lodging. Woodworth said when his father was in the Navy, hotel accommodations were often different based on which post the family visited.
IHG has partnered with Lend Lease, an Australian franchiser, in the 50-year contract. Lend Lease is also building Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites on the bases for visitors needing more long-term lodging. Lend Lease will own the buildings.
When completed, IHG will manage 76 Army hotels representing almost 12,000 hotel rooms.
For Kinsell , the arrangement not only pumps up revenue figures for the hotel company, but increases brand awareness and allows IHG priority reward customers to use loyalty points.
IHG also hopes to connect with military personnel who could use their skills in the hospitality field. Kinsell said IHG projects it will need 30,000 new workers in the Americas alone over the next few years.