IHG’s Newest Product: The Strength of the Midscale

4 min read

After a long wait, Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) has finally revealed their new brand, Avid. This is an incredibly important move because it targets one of the most successful chain scales in the hospitality industry – the midscale transient travel brand. According to Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG), the worldwide hotel company wanted to provide an excellent option for midscale travelers:

With the extended-stay Candlewood Suites as the only midscale brand in the company’s portfolio, IHG was not addressing the needs of an estimated 14 million travelers who could spend about $20 billion in roomnight revenue. – Elie Maalouf, CEO of the Americas, IHG

Did you catch that? 14 million travelers who could spend about $20 billion in room night revenue. The midscale market is extremely critical to the success of hotel companies seeking to expand their portfolio, and understanding that midscale market is incredibly important to hotel investors looking to make a smart investment move.

The new Avid product by IHG. Source: IHG

Why is the midscale market so foundational?

As mentioned in one of our vlogs, there are different types of chain scales that target different demographics of travelers.

The type of amenities and price point of a luxury hotel like the Ritz-Carlton is vastly different from the available amenities and price point of an economy property like a Red Roof Inn. At your Ritz-Carlton, you’ll have a pool and a hot tub (maybe several of each). Expectations include 24/7 concierge service, a spa, and at least one in-house restaurant. In lower chain scales, you’ll find just the basics: free wi-fi, a clean room, and maybe free breakfast. The price of a room sometimes can also reflect the amenities that it offers.

RevPAR Change - Hotel Investments

Midscale scale hotels have been on the rise faster than most other chain scales, while establishing higher long-term value than economy scale products.  Source: HVS

Here’s where midscale products come into play. Midscale hotels offer a happy medium between both ends of the hotel chain scale range. Midscale hotel assets are more resistant to declines in the national economy and downturns in the hotel cycle. When people are short on money, often the first things to go are the luxury items, or the “wants”. A family faced with a tighter budget may opt out of the Ritz Carlton, and will look to more affordable products, including midscale hotel products. On the other end, midscale hotels also offer a solid standard of quality higher than their economy hotel counterparts, and travelers (especially small business travelers) will definitely pay for that nicer midscale room as opposed to an economy room if they can afford it. This ability for midscale hotel products to do well in both thriving markets and struggling ones makes them a sturdy investment that is more resistant to fluctuations in the economy.

In addition, midscale hotels are often popular with business and corporate travelers, who make up the majority of hospitality revenue annually. Midscale products like IHG’s Avid provide the quality that many small businesses are accustomed to during business operations: wi-fi access, free breakfast, and plenty of conference and meeting space where they can meet clients and business partners.

As we’ve mentioned before, hotel investment options should always be carefully analyzed to make sure that it is an ideal investment for the market. Depending on the location, economic setting, and other market characteristics, it might be a strong option to invest in an upscale or even luxury hotel. In other markets, investing in an economy brand could be the best option. In Schaumburg, EquityRoots decided on a dual-brand model, one that combines the midscale market strength of a Holiday Inn Express combined with an amenity packed full-service Holiday Inn product with an in-house restaurant and bar component. For Schaumburg’s market, this strategy offered a strong amenity for surrounding businesses that demanded additional midscale market options.

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IHG’s launch of Avid makes this a good brand option for developers looking to offer a more consistent lodging product in markets where economy or independent properties are prevalent or in markets where Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Staybridge products already exist and are running annual occupancy levels above 80%.  Prematurely investing in new brands before more established brands have recorded solid performance can be dangerous.  Another confusing part can be what to do if you build a new construction Avid in a market that already has older more established brands with lower cost basis.  It will be hard to sell rooms for a higher price, even if your property truly costs more to build than older properties, therefore I think it’s important to note that it is most advantageous to develop Avid only if you own the other IHG flags in the market.  Some brands like Hilton have already discovered this fact, and have created a priority method to develop newer flags like Home 2 and Tru, giving preference to the existing Hampton Inn franchisee in the market.

Sources:

Fox, Jena Tesse. “IHG launches new Avid brand to attract midscale travelers, developers.” Sep 18, 2017. Hotel Management.

“What’s driving customer loyalty for today’s hotel brands?” Consumer Intelligence Series. PwC.

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