After opening the new year with the promise of new mid-scale brand for the US, InterContinental Hotels Group this week announced the $150m launch of EVEN Hotels, a brand aimed at traveler’s attention on wellness.
‘EVEN Hotels is another industry first for IHG, as it uniquely provides solutions for all aspects of travelers’ wellness needs in the areas of exercise, food, work and rest,’ said the company in a statement. ‘No other brand can do this, under one roof, at this price point. Joining IHG’s existing seven hotel brands, EVEN Hotels will be a key pillar in IHG’s portfolio of preferred brands and in the long term, a key driver in market share growth in the US.’
Richard Solomons, chief executive officer, IHG, said the company is ‘so confident in the EVEN brand that we are committing a capital investment of up to $150m over the next three years in order to deliver growth and profitability for EVEN Hotels.’
Over a span of 18 months, IHG closely analyzed emerging trends, conducted quantitative and qualitative studies, and talked to more than 4,000 customers. The research showed a demand shift to a holistic wellness travel experience, and confirmed an unmet need among customers – staying healthy while they travel. ‘The EVEN brand concept is deeply rooted in what these guests need, and provides a solution for healthier-minded travelers,’ said the company.
‘The wellness sector continues to grow year over year and the launch of EVEN Hotels will allow IHG to take advantage of this long-term trend,’ said Kirk Kinsell, president, the Americas, IHG. ‘The US represents two-thirds of IHG’s rooms today, and this exciting new brand will help us to continue to grow our share in this important market. We expect to sign contracts for 100 EVEN Hotels within the next five years.’
Americans either want to be healthier or have to be healthier, and leading a healthy, balanced lifestyle is increasingly becoming more important to them. The brand specifically responds to extensive customer research that tells us that guests are frustrated from staying in hotels that do not meet their entire lifestyle and wellness needs. There are 17 million healthier-minded travelers who find it hard to stay active and eat right, and often ‘fall off the wagon’ when they travel. The EVEN brand solves this inherent problem and enables ‘travel life balance’ for these travelers. EVEN Hotels.
Overall, IHG research shows that travelers want healthier options around four priority areas: exercise, eat, work and rest. In response to that, features of EVEN Hotels will include:
- Exercise – Guest rooms designed for in-room workouts with multi-functional room amenities (e.g. coat rack that doubles as a pull up bar); best-in-class gym with equipment and group exercise activities; ‘Wellness Wall’ for fitness options in walking distance, tips and equipment rental; personalized guest service to offer advice on fitness options, ideas and/or instruction; all baked into the service experience, at no added cost to the guest.
- Eat – Nutritionally designed menus with a particular focus on natural, fresh, fit and energizing meals – available anytime; an open air café and bar; free flavored filtered water with glass bottles available to fill up and take back to the room; free coffee and mini-smoothies in the morning.
- Work – Rooms with high speed Wi-Fi, multimedia ports, easy access to outlets, ample desk space; and social spaces in the bar and lobby.
- Rest – Rooms offer revitalization and relaxation, including hypoallergenic linens, powerful showerheads, natural lighting, LED dimmers and antibacterial wipes.
IHG intends to own and manage the first several EVEN Hotels in key markets, then look to accelerate growth through the company’s franchise model. IHG plans to announce the first EVEN location in the second quarter 2012 and expects the first hotel to open in the first part of 2013.