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Holiday Inn Express Franchisees Endorse $20+ million Bathroom Makeover; Proprietary Showerheads,
Curved Shower Rods, Upgraded Towels and
New Line of Bath Amenities

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Shower Initiative Reflects Guests’ Preferences

ATLANTA (October, 2004) – Starting today, Holiday Inn Express will give all of its U.S. hotel rooms a $20+ million bathroom makeover. The leading hotel brand is enhancing its guest bath experience with the addition of a proprietary showerhead, curved shower rods, upgraded towels and a new line of proprietary bath amenities. Holiday Inn Express will roll out approximately 120,000 new showerheads and replace more than one million towels across its system by February 1, 2005.

The aptly named SimplySmart™ shower program, will center on an exclusive multi-function showerhead by Kohler®; upgraded towels; white, hookless shower curtains with curved rods; cotton loop bath rugs; and a sleek new line of bath amenities with a proprietary scent.

“Providing an enhanced shower experience was a key area of opportunity for the Holiday Inn Express brand in light of the fact that it was shown to be a top priority for our guests,” said Jenifer Zeigler, senior vice president brand management, Holiday Inn Express. “We are responding to our guests needs by significantly upgrading bath features they identified as important, while keeping simplicity and value at the forefront.”

Holiday Inn Express dedicated more than 30,000 hours to identifying and testing the program elements. The showerhead alone was tested with more than 7,000 guests, at 28 hotels across the U.S. At the completion of testing all of the upgraded amenities were perceived by guests as significantly better than competitive offerings. The program was also met with a full endorsement from the IAHI, the most established independent franchisee association in the hotel industry.

Mike Hoffman, Chairman of the IAHI Holiday Inn Express brand committee and owner of the Holiday Inn Express Albany-Turf, has already installed the new showerheads in his hotel. As a matter of fact, he also installed the showerhead in his home.

“I can tell you that the new multi-function showerhead by Kohler is the best showerhead I have ever tried. The showerhead coupled with other bath enhancements will delight every one of our guests,” said Hoffman. “As a hotel owner, I am pleased with the methodology of the Holiday Inn Express brand team. They identify an area of importance to our guests, research and test it until they have it right and execute a rapid implementation to ensure consistency across the brand. The SimplySmart shower experience, like the Express Start breakfast bar is right on,” he added.

SimplySmart focuses on one of the hotel industry’s current challenges – mirroring the comforts of home within the lodging experience, no matter the hotel service category. As guests continue to become more discerning and sophisticated about interior design, they want accommodations that respond to their new, elevated tastes. Currently, that includes bathrooms that deliver a clean, simple and more functional experience. Upgrades include:

  • New multifunction Stay Smart showerhead by Kohler--Guests rated it as their top choice based on superior water pressure and spray coverage, flexible spray settings, an appealing design and durability. The signature item also rated significantly better than the showerheads of a key competitor and 26 percent of guests tested said their stay was more pleasant because of the new showerhead.
  • New terry towels and bath rug -- The towels are a significant upgrade in terms of size, softness and absorbency. The 100 percent cotton towels are 20 percent larger than the current towels as well as thicker and more absorbent, evoking a home-like feeling. The bath rugs will be 100 percent white cotton loop.
  • New line of amenities --The program combines custom packaging, a proprietary fragrance, and a display unit that houses everything including washcloths, and helps organize the counter space. The packaging includes squeezable bottles featuring a flip-top cap that is easy to use.
  • Curved shower rod -- The new curved shower rod increases showering space by 25 percent and, combined with weighted magnets, solves the problem of the clinging shower curtain. The white, waffle-weave curtain also reflects the current design trends toward a neutral color palette.
SimplySmart is the second in a series of major brand innovations and follows the successful Express Start™ breakfast launch of 2003. SimplySmart will duplicate the rapid implementation schedule of Express Start with an accelerated two stage rollout– showerheads and shower curtains will be installed in hotels by October 1, 2004 with the remainder of the shower elements — towels, bath rug and bath products — completed by first quarter 2005.

“Quick implementation guarantees that our guests will find consistency across the brand,” said Zeigler. “We know that consistency paid off big with the Express Start breakfast bar, which resulted in some of our highest monthly occupancy levels in the history of the brand and importantly increased guest satisfaction.”

SimplySmart will be supported with a national marketing campaign that includes television advertising. In a strategic effort to replicate the success of the brand’s ongoing ‘Stay Smart’ campaign the brand is debuting a new generation of the popular equity ads that incorporate the SimplySmart shower initiative.

InterContinental Hotels Group PLC of the United Kingdom [LON:IHG, NYSE:IHG (ADRs)] is the world’s most global hotel company and the largest by number of rooms. InterContinental Hotels Group owns, manages, leases or franchises, through various subsidiaries, more than 3,500 hotels and 538,000 guest rooms in nearly 100 countries and territories around the world. 


 
Contact:
Natasha Gullett
Holiday Inn Express
(770) 604- 5597
natasha.gullett@ichotelsgroup.com
www.ihgplc.com

 
Also See: After Testing More than 150 Showerheads, Westin Selects a Speakman Shower with Two Heads to Launch the Heavenly Bath Program / May 2001
Holiday Inn Express Overhauls Breakfast Bar at 1,200 Properties; Features Proprietary Cinnamon Roll and Arabica Coffee / March 2003


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