Holiday Inn is a brand name applied to hotels within the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG).
The original Holiday Inn chain of hotels was founded in 1952 in Memphis, Tennessee, by homebuilder Kemmons Wilson to provide inexpensive family accommodation for travelers within the USA. Wilson opened the first Holiday Inn in September 1952 at 4941 Summer Avenue in the Berclair district of Memphis on the main road to and from Nashville. Though the actual hotel does not exist anymore, a historical sign marks where it once stood. In 1954, Wilson incorporated the chain with Wallace E. Johnson.
Wilson initially came up with the idea after a family road trip to Washington, DC, during which he was disappointed by the quality and consistency provided by the roadside motels of that era. The name Holiday Inn was given to the original hotel by his architect Eddie Bluestein as a joke, in reference to the Bing Crosby movie.
In 1957, Wilson franchised the chain as Holiday Inn of America, and it grew dramatically, following Wilson's original tenet that the properties should be standardized, clean, predictable, family-friendly, and readily accessible to road travellers. By 1958 there were 50 Inns across the country, 100 by 1959, 500 by 1964, and the 1000th Holiday Inn opened in San Antonio, Texas, in 1968. The chain dominated the motel market, leveraged its innovative Holidex reservation system, put considerable financial pressure on traditional hotels, and set the standard for its competitors like Ramada Inns, Quality Inn, Howard Johnson's, and Best Western. By June 1972, when Wilson was featured on the cover of Time magazine, there were over 1,400 Holiday Inn hotels worldwide. Innovations like the company's Holidome indoor pools turned many hotels into roadside resorts.
The company later branched into other related enterprises, including Medi-Center nursing homes, Continental Trailways, Delta Queen, and various related enterprises. Wilson also later developed the Orange Lake Resort and Country Club near Orlando and a chain called Wilson World Hotels. The family of founder Kemmons Wilson still operates hotels as part of the Kemmons Wilson Companies of Memphis.
Wilson retired from Holiday Inn in 1979.
Although still a healthy company, changing business conditions and demographics saw Holiday Inn lose its market dominance in the 1980s. Holiday Inns, Inc. was renamed Holiday Corporation in 1985 to reflect the growth of the company’s brands, including Harrah’s, Embassy Suites, Crowne Plaza, Homewood Suites and Hampton Inns. In 1988, Holiday Inns International was purchased by UK-based Bass PLC (the owners of the Bass beer brand), followed by the remaining domestic Holiday Inn hotels in 1990, when founder Wilson sold his interest, after which the hotel group was known as Holiday Inn Worldwide. The remainder of Holiday Corporation was spun off to shareholders as Promus Companies Incorporated. In March 1998, Bass acquired the InterContinental brand, expanding into the luxury hotel market. In 2000, Bass sold its brewing assets (and the rights to the Bass name) and changed its name to Six Continents PLC. InterContinental Hotels Group was created in 2003 after Six Continents split into two daughter companies: Mitchells and Butlers PLC to handle restaurant assets, and IHG to focus on soft drinks and hotels, including the Holiday Inn brand.
The brand name Holiday Inn is now owned by IHG who in turn license it out to franchisees and third parties who operate hotels under management agreements.
In January 2002, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company, led by Ravi Saligram, was producing a new 130-room "Next Generation" prototype hotel to rebuild the brand. It would include a bistro-like restaurant and an indoor pool. The first of these prototype hotels, the Holiday Inn Gwinnett Center, was built in Duluth, Georgia, in 2003.
On 24 October 2007, IHG announced a worldwide relaunch of the Holiday Inn brand family. The relaunch will be "focused on delivering consistently best in class service and physical quality levels, including a redesigned welcome experience [and] signature bedding and bathroom products..." The first relaunched Holiday Inn is expected to open in the USA in the spring of 2008.
The "Great Sign" is the traditional, historic roadside sign used by Holiday Inn during their original era of expansion in the 1950s-1970s. It was the brainchild of Kemmons Wilson who introduced it to the world when he opened his first motel on August 1
. The signs were extremely large and eye-catching, but were expensive to construct and operate. In 1982, following Kemmons Wilson's departure, the Holiday Inn board of directors made the decision to phase out the "Great Sign" in favor of a cheaper and less catchy backlit sign that still maintained the classic script logo. The decision was not without controversy as it essentially signalled the end of the Kemmons Wilson era and removed a ubiquitous and internationally recognizable company icon.
In 2003, in a program of hotel redesign, the company brought back a revamped version of the Great Sign that showed up the company's advertising under the slogan "Relax, it's Holiday Inn." The makeover came with a new prototype hotel that included photography of the sign and a retro-style diner named after founder Kemmons Wilson.
Business relationship with Gulf Oil
In 1963, Holiday Inns signed a long-term deal with Gulf Oil Corporation
in which the lodging chain would accept Gulf credit cards to charge food and lodging at all of its hotels (in the United States and Canada). In return, Gulf would build service stations
on the premises of many Holiday Inn properties, particularly those along or near major U.S. and Interstate highways. Many older Holiday Inns locations (including some no longer part of the chain) still have the service station properties intact today, either still in operation or closed down. With the exception of a few locations in the eastern U.S., hardly any of the still-open stations are now Gulf outlets. The portion of the agreement which permitted Gulf credit cards to be used for payment of food and lodging at Holiday Inns was copied by competing lodging chains and major oil companies during the mid-to-late 1960s. Most of those agreements fizzled out with the 1973 oil crisis
. The Gulf/Holiday Inn arrangement ended around 1982.
Historical trademark conflicts
- For two decades a hotel called Holiday Inn located in Niagara Falls, Ontario prevented the Holiday Inn Corporation from operating one of its own hotels in that city since the name was already in use. The hotel used a logo similar to the old Holiday Inn logo from the 1970s. The Holiday Inn Corporation directory referred to the hotel as "not part of this Holiday Inn system". The hotel also owned the holidayinn.com domain which forced the much larger corporation to use holiday-inn.com. In 2006, an agreement between IHG and the Niagara Falls, Ontario hotel owners was reached that allowed both the Hotel and Holidayinn.com to be incorporated into the IHG system.
- During the 1960s and early 1970s, Holiday Inn hotels located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina were simply called "Holiday" because a local motel already had the "Holiday Inn" name. The name was contested by Holiday Inns, Inc. v Holiday Inn before the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina (Florence division) in 1973. The South Carolina Holiday Inn had franchised their name to Strand Development Corporation who filed a counterclaim against Holiday Inns, Inc. The dispute resulted in a concurrent use registration for the Myrtle Beach hotel, which still operates as "Holiday Inn", although it is required to use a distinctly different font.
- The Village Inn and Restaurant was renamed "Holiday Inn" after the release of the 1942 film Holiday Inn starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. It had been operating as The Village Inn since 1908. This Irving Berlin musical was actually about a hotel that was open only on holidays. See . As of 2007 the hotel has been restored and is operating as the Village Inn and Restaurant.
- Holiday Inn - the most recognizable tier of service. There are two distinct types: high-rise, full-service plaza hotels and low-rise, full-service hotels. The former also included many high-rises with round, central-core construction, instantly recognizable from the 1970s. Both offer a restaurant, pools at most locations, room service, an exercise room, and functional but comfortable rooms.
- Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites - properties offering all the amenities and services of a regular Holiday Inn but consists of rooms mixed with suites.
- Holiday Inn Resort - Offering all the amenities and services of a full-service Holiday Inn, resorts are considered a more of an advertising branding then a completely different brand. Most Holiday Inn Resort's are located in high leisure tourism markets.
- Holiday Inn Select – upper range full-service hotels which cater to business travellers. In 2006, it was announced that Holiday Inn Select hotels will be discontinued. Existing hotels may continue to operate under the Holiday Inn Select flag until their existing license expires, however many are converting to Crowne Plaza or regular Holiday Inn hotels. The Select brand is effectively dead, with no further marketing or advertising based around the "Select" moniker.
- Holiday Inn Sunspree Resorts – properties in resort areas with full-service amenities and deluxe service. These are typically very large properties.
- Holiday Inn Garden Court – which exist only in Europe and South Africa and are designed to reflect the national culture
- Nickelodeon Family Suites – Nickelodeon-themed Holiday Inn hotel near Orlando, Florida
Holiday Inn Express
Holiday Inn Express
(currently known as Express by Holiday Inn
outside North America, however IHG plans to standardize as Holiday Inn Express
worldwide by 2010) is a mid-priced hotel chain within the IHG family of brands. As an "express" hotel, their focus is on offering solid value at a reasonable price. Standard amenities lean toward the convenient and practical which cater to business travellers and short-term stays.
On-site restaurants and lounges are not present in most U.S. properties, while many other inns worldwide offer small venue food & beverage offerings. Most hotels offer a fitness center, indoor swimming pools and a hot tub. Complimentary hot breakfasts are available for travellers on-the-go (including award-winning cinnamon rolls) and guests also receive complimentary toiletries, including staples such as shampoo, mouthwash, lotion and grooming items.
Because the chain has been undergoing tremendous growth, the majority of Holiday Inn Express hotels are brand new or newly renovated. Though most Holiday Inn Express hotels are smaller than their sister Holiday Inn hotels they are equally ubiquitous, conveniently located in cities and small towns alike. Their no-nonsense value offerings allow them to serve smaller markets more efficiently.
In the mid-2000s, Holiday Inn Express began producing humorous television commercials featuring "average Joes" performing extraordinary activities that only experts would know. The concept attributes these exaggerated abilities to the fact that they "stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night". The campaign reflects the brand's slogan "Stay Smart" which is still in use today.
In the summer of 2007, IHG took the "Stay Smart" theme even further. The hotel chain has teamed up with AOL and HBO's new comedy site, "This Just In", to develop a two-month daily web series called "The Smart Show". The premise of the show is a virtual tour with the two hosts on a coast-to-coast road trip exploring what's so smart about America. The idea is to showcase the diverse and non-traditional culture of "smart", such as people, places, businesses and inventions that are clever, witty, and unexpected as opposed to simply "book smart". Beginning in Boston, Massachusetts, the travelling show will stop along major metropolitan cities as well as small, back road towns on the way to Los Angeles, California, where the program ends in December 2007. Website visitors will be able to interact with the hosts, submit their own video content about smart ideas in their home towns and respond to other smart postings. In effect, the site is a forum for an open-ended conversation about the meaning of "smart".
Holiday Inn Express has also reinforced their "Stay Smart" slogan online by opening an Internet "Smart Mart" on their website allowing customers to buy showerheads, towels, toiletries, and cinnamon rolls identical to those featured at the hotels.
There are over 1,500 Holiday Inn Express hotels worldwide.
Although originally called Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza
, Crowne Plaza
split to form a distinctive brand from Holiday Inn in 1994.
During the 1960s, there were two Holiday Inn Jr. motels; one in Rantoul, Illinois and the other in Missouri. Motel rooms were located in portables although the Rantoul location also had one small section in a traditionally-constructed building.
- Holiday Inn was the first hotel chain to co-produce (or sponsor) a syndicated game show, He Said, She Said, in 1969.
- Elton John's song "Holiday Inn" is about being at the hotel chain while touring.
- Holiday Inn was the first hotel chain to introduce a frequent stayer reward program. It debuted in 1977 as Holiday Inn Inner Circle, but was quickly reorganized into Priority Club Worldwide and later Priority Club Rewards.
- Holiday Inn is mentioned in a line in the 1979 Sugarhill Gang song "Rapper's Delight" ("I say hotel, motel, Holiday Inn...")
- Rapper Chingy has a song ironically entitled Holidae In Off his album Jackpot featuring Snoop Dogg
- Holiday Inn was a corporate funder and once, an advertising partner of the PBS 1990's kids' game show, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
- On April 27, 2006, Major League Baseball Properties (MLBP), Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM), and the InterContinental Hotels Group announced a three year sponsorship deal to make Holiday Inn "The Official Hotel Of Major League Baseball" As part of the deal Holiday Inn will run a certain amount of commercials during Major League Baseball games and other MLB produced programming, be the main sponsor of one of the activities of fanfest during the All Star Week, and offer baseball-related sweepstakes to its Priority Club Members.
- In Canada, Holiday Inn is a major sponsor of the Canadian Football League (CFL) and is "The Official Business Hotel of the CFL."
- On October 24, 2007, Holiday Inn Hotels, the InterContinental Hotels Group and Richard Childress Racing announced a muti-year agreement to sponsor the #29 RCR Chevy in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Drivers Jeff Burton and Scott Wimmer will share the ride with Scott driving 23 races and Jeff driving the rest of the 35 race schedule.
- At the beginning of the video for The Rolling Stones' song "Undercover of the Night", the Holiday Inn "Great Sign" is visible.
- On the back of the second KC and The Sunshine Band LP jacket , the lights from an old Holiday Inn Great Sign can be seen "streaking" across the back cover.
- In 1967 , due to vandalism which resulted in heavy damage to a Holiday Inn in Flint Michigan , The rock band The Who were banned from the entire Holiday Inn chain for life. (Newer managment lifted the old ban in the 1990s )
- In 1996, Holiday Inn hired internationally reputed advertising firm Fallon McElligott, dropping Young & Rubicam, Inc. after a 6 year relationship.
Holiday Inn has a history of standards, part of Wilson's original idea. Not meeting these standards may mean a lost franchise. Many of the older Holiday Inn hotels, especially the two-story ones with exterior corridors, have been removed from the Holiday Inn system as franchises expired and rebranded. Some old Holidomes have been rebranded as Best Westerns, Days Inns, and Quality Inns.