I’ve kind of noticed how Holiday Inn is now making a concerted effort to reshape its brand image. You may have seen it too. The 50+ year old global hotel chain has refreshed a very tired brand logo (hadn’t been touched in 50 years,) has a new advertising campaign and is supposedly going through a complete makeover to recast itself from being a lower end, shabby, inexpensive lodging to one that will be considered friendlier, higher scale and a much more vibrant hotel choice for the next decade.
Analogies typically work well in these cases. I think Holiday Inn’s management is doing its best to crawl out of the basement of lower end hotels (I.e., Days Inn, Comfort Inn, etc.) by attempting to nicely situate itself in the company of the mid to higher end Marriotts.
Frankly, I wasn’t buying it. Over the last 35 years, I’ve watched this chain fall from grace. To me, it takes a hell of a lot more than new marketing and service guarantees to make good on an entirely new brand promise.
Then, I actually stayed at a Holiday Inn in Boca Raton, Florida (sorry to show that I am a snob, but I never do this.) I was more than pleasantly surprised with the experience and have to say that I’m on my way to becoming a converted man.
For starters, let’s talk about how I was greeted in the lobby. The man behind the desk actually came out to grab my bag and meet me with a handshake and a very warm smile. The lobby (by the way) had clearly been remodeled. No more old 70ish décor. Now, it felt vibrant with bright colors, new furniture and the overall décor screamed, we are different! Next, to my room. I walked in expecting the typical double beds, old warn out comforters, small, ugly bathrooms, etc. That just wasn’t the case. Instead, I actually did feel like I was in a higher end Wyndham or Marriott. The room was larger, had signature new bedding, a stylish bathroom with real granite, central air (believe it or not, that’s a perk typically in these hotels), nice furniture and even a mini bar (which really shocked the socks off of me.) I was very impressed and would have been just fine at that stage, but they gave me even more. A fairly high end fitness center was located on the floor below (previously unheard of) and the restaurant food was very good (seafood of course.)
I left this hotel feeling pretty damn good. But, as I started to write about it in this post, I realized that this one Holiday Inn could be an anomaly. Before putting pen to paper, I thought it would be a smart idea to find out if others have had similar experiences (or not). Quite simply, is the new brand promise really living up to expectations? According to the minimal qualitative research (uh…those would be phone call conversations with friends), the answer is yes. Two friends have stayed at the Holiday Inn in Lake George, NY. They loved it. Said it felt like a resort (you just don’t hear that about Holiday Inn). Two other friends had very good experiences at the Holiday Inn in SoHo, NYC and in Philadelphia.
There you have it. While my research is far from being scientific or verifiable, one thing is clear. Holiday Inn is changing for the better. This just isn’t your grandfather’s Holiday Inn any more.