Global hotel operator IHG drops one brand for another for big Auckland hotel under construction

Global hotel operator IHG drops one brand for another for big Auckland hotel under construction

Date: 22. January 2020

As first published in Stuff by Marta Steeman 22 January 2020

Global hotel operator IHG is switching to its new “voco” brand – unstuffy but professional service – and dropping its “wellness experience” EVEN brand for an under construction 200-room central Auckland hotel.

It announced in mid-2017 the hotel to be built at the corner of Albert and Wyndham streets would be branded EVEN, offering “a holistic wellness experience”.

Now a franchise agreement between IHG and the hotel’s Australian developer Pro-invest will brand the hotel IHG’s new “voco” brand – where they combine “character and quality to create unstuffy hotels with welcoming hosts”.

Pro-invest will manage the hotel under the franchise agreement with IHG.

IHG said the new brand was a better fit and would resonate with “the colourful, unstuffy and laid-back Kiwi spirit.”

The voco hotel would have 200 rooms designed around the “Me Time” concept with premium beds for a quality sleep, superior showers, innovative lighting and user-friendly technology, as well as an all-day restaurant and bar and guest gym.

It would also fit well with Pro-invest’s environment focus and commitment to targeting high energy efficiency in its hotels.

The voco hotel will be located in one of Auckland’s tallest buildings, a 37-storey building in which the Holiday Inn Express with 290 rooms, another IHG brand, will occupy the lower floors and voco the upper half.

The hotel is currently under construction with IHG saying it and Pro-invest would be bringing the voco brand to New Zealand in mid-2021.

Tourism and leisure consultant Stephen Hamilton says international hotel management companies like IHG evolve their brands all the time.

IHG’s managing director, Australasia and Japan, Leanne Harwood, said the voco brand had created momentum since its launch in June 2018. The Auckland voco would be the first in New Zealand. There were five in Australia, on the Gold Coast, Yarra Valley, Hunter Valley, Melbourne and Sydney.

The sustainability achievements at voco hotels in Australia included half a million plastic bottles recycled to make voco bedding, locally-sourced food, more than 300,000 bees producing honey and honeycomb for the restaurants.

Tourism and leisure consultant Stephen Hamilton of Horwath HTL said the international hotel management groups like IHG were always evolving their brands.

The guests they were targeting with voco were a new generation of consumers looking for a different type of hotel experience. It was important for hotel brands to try and meet the expectations of the generation coming through and what they were prepared to pay for that.

The hotels market was highly-competitive, and a hotel’s brand was one of the things that told consumers what the hotel stood for.

Pro-invest in the hotel sector was a little unusual in that it was not only a developer and owner of hotels but also a manager. Pro-invest had different branches which carried out these roles. IHG and Pro-invest had been partners for some time, Hamilton said.

Pro-invest recently opened the Holiday Inn Express Melbourne Southbank adding to its existing Holiday Inn Express properties in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Newcastle. This year it expects to open the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Queenstown.

Contact: Stephen Hamilton