Developed in conjunction with design professionals, the new ‘Next Generation’ guest experience for the Holiday Inn brand in Europe has been based entirely on guest input.
To meet the needs of the ‘Smart Traveller’, the design reflects the technological demands of the modern guest with changes to how guests check-in, plug in and connect to the cyber and physical world. Smart TVs in rooms enables guests to stream their content from tablets, laptops or mobile phones, and USB charging points feature in the bed side units as well as regular plug sockets. IHG Rewards Club members will be able to check in through the IHG App or online prior to arrival and shown their room location via tablet screens. Wi-Fi will also be included as part of the room cost.
It’s not a disconnection from hospitality though, as guest feedback indicated a strong need for a more personal checking-in experience, breaking down the physical barrier of a desk and opting for individual “pods” instead.
The Guest room
The room features a larger, more comfortable bed dressed with four pillows; two soft and two firm. Drawing inspiration from the airline industry, the new headboards are padded and noise-reducing, upholstered in a light grey fabric which complements the peaceful blue tones chosen for the new room colour scheme. There’s a dark orange zest of colour that lifts the room from being too ‘business class’ and injects a little more fun into the design. The traditional work desk has been replaced with a movable laptop desk which can be used from the comfort of the flexible work/rest area, close to multiple USB ports and charge points.
Mike Greenup, Vice President, Brand Management, Holiday Inn Brand Family, Europe, IHG said: “A hotel room is no longer just a place to sleep and our approach to technology and service starts with understanding our guests and their needs across the entire guest journey. This investment in guest insight and innovation is enabling us to stay ahead of the game.”
The Express Café & Bar
This is the integrated food and beverage experience in Holiday Inn Express. There is the option to stay in the café/bar for the Express Start™ breakfast or to have it ‘to go’ by grabbing a take away bag. This better fits guests’ needs for fast and tasty food on the go.
IHG worked with IDEO, a global design and innovation consultancy, and Forpeople, an environments design agency, to develop the ‘next generation’ guest experience.
Chris Grantham, Brand Experience Portfolio Director from IDEO London said: “From the outset we were excited by IHG’s ambition to create a hotel experience that was entirely based on guest insight. We put the Smart Traveller at the centre of the innovation process to learn about their digital, space service and food preferences – ultimately developing a signature ‘smart’ travel experience that is distinctive and valuable to travellers.”
Guest feedback put into action
This new guest experience is a direct reflection of guest feedback. As well as hotel staff, owners and hotel experts, IDEO interviewed a variety of business and leisure travellers who travelled solo, in pairs or in groups, not just within the IHG branded hotels, but in its competitors too. They spent time in guests’ homes observing what they packed for a long and short stay. The team walked guests through a full-sized mock-up of the new guest experience which included acted-out service roles, digital touch screens, and food and beverage offerings. As guests imagined themselves in the hotel – checking in, or eating at the café, for example – IDEO quickly zeroed in on the areas that felt both signature to the brand and of greatest value to the guest. During each walkthrough, guests were invited to give feedback that IDEO incorporated to refine the experience.
“We are aiming for at least one in every four of our European hotels to feature the latest Holiday Inn Express ‘next generation’ guest experience within the next three years, with the first hotel opening towards the end of this year,” said Mike Greenup. Launched in Europe, the ‘next generation’ for Holiday Inn Express will be adapted for forthcoming new builds and those properties earmarked for renovation.