It is probably fair to assume that when 60 year old William Bass first conceptualised the establishment of the Bass Brewery company in 1776 he probably gave no thought whatsoever as to the possibility of the business branching out into the market of hotels one day. Yet just over two centuries after his death this is exactly what transpired when, in response to the expectation that the British Government would soon approve legislation to reduce the number of public houses any brewer could directly own, the company bought the Holiday Inn chain of hotels from its owner Kemmons Wilson.
Nearly thirty five years after that transaction the venture is now the biggest hotel company in the world. Well certainly in terms of the numbers of rooms it has anyway.
It has been quite a journey for the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) to say the least. With its head office in Denham, Buckinghamshire, the company now runs a collection of over 4500 hotels in 100 countries across the globe. Offering well over 645,000 rooms the company oversees a number of extremely popular brands including the Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Staybridge Suites, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza and Candlewood Suites and also boasts some of the most notable and famous hotels in the world including the Crowne Plaza Liverpool John Lennon Airport, which is located in the former terminal building of Liverpool Speke Airport, and the InterContinental New York Times Square.
Leaving its alcoholic roots behind shortly after the turn of the new millennium when it sold its brewing interests to the Belgian company Interbrew for some £2.3 billion, the business was briefly known as ‘Six Continents’ for a short period after the sale, before changing its name and business focus to IHG in 2003 after a split which gave Mitchell & Butlers control of the restaurant side of things. Today the IHG is predominantly concerned in owning and operating hotel accommodation owned by other parties as well as franchising its own hotel brands. Whilst they directly owned and managed just 10 establishments themselves, some 3,900 properties function under franchise agreements, whilst another 652 are directly managed by the company themselves but independently owned by other businessmen.
Whilst not primarily investing in physical properties, the IHG has developed an extremely successful business through the provision of resources, experience and excellence in hotel management, best practice systems and procedures and marketing. In addition a major facilitator for its success has been its Priority Club Rewards loyalty program which operates in most countries and all continents around the world and currently boasts more than 60 million active members. Making it hands down the most popular programme of its type in the industry.