InterContinental, the biggest hotel group in the world, is to concentrate on defining its different hotel brands, according to chief executive Andrew Cosslett.
Speaking at his first InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) Americas Leadership and Investment Conference in Las Vegas since taking over the reins of the company, Cosslett reaffirmed his faith in brand management and awareness.
When Cosslett was appointed to head IHG in February, his background at retailers Unilever and Cadbury Schweppes was pinpointed by industry observers to indicate the group's focus on developing brands and marketing.
Cosslett told Caterer at the conference: "This is a very exciting time and a great opportunity to join up our organisations more directly under the IHG banner. We did it for Cadbury's and it's an opportunity to use what I learnt for the benefit of IHG."
Defining different brands, he stressed, was the key to satisfying all parts of the business, including owners, operators and customers, and would lead to growth.
"We have a huge range in our portfolio and I don't think the brand differentiation has, as yet, been pushed as far as it can go. The sea of sameness is everywhere in the industry and we want people to feel they get a real choice with IHG."
IHG operates seven brands throughout the world, including InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites, Hotel Indigo and Crowne Plaza.
Cosslett said the Holiday Inn brand image in the UK was a good of example of where image didn't reflect reality. "Normally people are pleasantly surprised with the quality. The UK performance is going from strength to strength, which reflects the work that's been done on the estate over the last few years."
Cosslett said the group would be targeting growth across all brands in Asia Pacific. He plans to grow the group by 50,000 to 60,000 rooms over the next three years, increasing properties in China from 47 to 125 in that period.
He told 5,000 IHG staff, owners and franchisees at the conference that he wanted to consolidate the company's leading position, particularly in markets like China. "We will achieve growth by making our brand offers sharper and more innovative," he added.
By Emily Manson