InterContinental Hotels Group and managing customer expectations

One of the most interesting things about InterContinental Hotels Group is the wide spectrum of hotels they manage, from $800/night InterContinental hotels to $50 roadside Holiday Inn Express properties. It’s tough to manage customer expectations in such an environment, especially since the number of InterContinental properties worldwide is limited, meaning many otherwise loyal InterContinental customers looking for luxury hotels will take their business elsewhere when not staying in a city with an InterContinental hotel.

When I tell people I’m traveling abroad and staying at a Holiday Inn or Crowne Plaza, I sometimes get a response somewhere along the lines of “ew, really?” Well, internationally I actually find most Crowne Plaza hotels to be excellent, far superior to the average property here in the US.

On the contrary, check out the Crowne Plaza South Beach Z Ocean Hotel. This is a boutique hotel in South Beach that commands substantially higher rates than the InterContinental Miami, and actually looks really nice. This raises a simple question: why the hell affiliate yourself with Crowne Plaza, at least in the US? That hotel looks to me like it should be an InterContinental. I just don’t know if the hotel is doing itself justice, since it’ll have a hard time capturing travelers looking for luxury under the “Crowne Plaza” name.

At the same time you can’t do a good job of managing the expectations of typical Crowne Plaza customers, who are used to paying a third of what this hotel charges, and likely expect more free amenities than most luxury hotels offer.

Will this hotel eventually be rebranded as an InterContinental? I don’t know, but I just can’t rationalize why they’d stay branded as a Crowne Plaza. Nonetheless it looks like a great hotel which I’ll try to check out the next time I’m in Miami.

Filed Under: Hotels, Priority Club
  1. The new owner is quoted here explaining his choice:

    “The 79-room hotel he bought in September — nearly to the day of the first stock market crash — once promised to redefine luxury on Ocean Drive.
    But with room revenues down 18 percent in Miami-Dade County this year, Taic now has more modest ambitions. In January he quietly turned over management of the hotel to Crowne Plaza, a brand one notch below luxury on the lodging scale.
    ”I would have never contemplated Crowne Plaza if the economy were not what it is,” Taic said. “Now I need to be a very strong four-star price with a five-star product.””

    Crowne Plaza franchise fees are probably lower than other possible brand choices such as InterContinental.

  2. The first InterContinental I’ve been at in recent memory, in Singapore, leaves me with the expectation that the chain is a bunch of stuffy old luxury hotels designed in the 90s.

    ~ from the InterContinental Singapore, after UA895 departed HKG at 0300 Local (APU issues, including battery replacement)

  3. @ soitgoes — Nice find! An interesting read, and it seems to answer my questions, although I’m not sure I agree. Turning the hotel into a CP due to the weak economy seems like a short sighted move to me. In the US CP’s are typically three stars at best, so offering a five star product at a “strong” four star price seems out of place for the brand. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the economy recovers.

    @ Mark — InterContinental hotels vary substantially, from 100 year old landmarks to uber-modern hotels. I’m more for modern hotels, but I have to say I do like the IC Singapore.

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