IHG’s new brand is US-centric for now

First avid expected to open in 2019

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), which has unveiled avid as the name of its new brand, is not likely to transport the brand to Asia soon.

IHG CEO Keith Barr told TTG Asia the chain would want to “get it right in the US quickly”, besides there’s still a huge opportunity to grow the Holiday Inn Express brand in Asia, in an interview that primarily discussed IHG’s new operating region.

First avid expected to open in 2019

The new brand is positioned US$10-US$15 cheaper than Express in the US. Asked if that’s nearly hitting no-frills, Barr said: “Holiday Inn Express is in the upper mid-scale, while this one’s mid-scale.”

In Asia however Express is widely seen as mid-scale, while Holiday Inn is perceived as upper mid-scale.

The launch of avid is, anyhow, targeted at the US market, IHG’s largest operating region but one that has slowed after years of healthy numbers. IHG has a 21 per cent share of supply and 24 per cent share of the pipeline in the US, and a new brand of scale may help increase that.

The chain claims that more than 150 owners have expressed interest in the brand, and expects the first avid hotels to begin construction in early 2018 and the first avid to open in early 2019.

So what does a cheaper-than-Express look like? Asian outbound tour operators who book US holidays need not worry about avid being spartan. In fact, it will have a modern design, public work areas, inviting communal spaces – as is the rage today even in Asia. It even includes free breakfast and has fastest Wi-Fi in the industry (although it does not mention if that’s free).

For owners, the initial owner offer includes five per cent royalty fee and the first 100 signed licence agreements are eligible for a two per cent discount in year one, and one per cent in year two (2/1 royalty fee reduction).

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