The Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) is one of the largest hotel companies in the world, with over 4,900 hotels in close to 100 countries, offering over 700,000 rooms! With 168 Million guests per year, chances are you have been to one or at least heard of one of their hotels! Their brand Holiday Inn is one of the best known around the world!
This is an outdated post – find the most current IHG Facts & figures here!
If you are looking to pick a hotel group for your preferred reward program, it’s important to know if they fit your typical travel needs as well as your aspirations for reward redemptions. Do they have the kind of hotels you like? Do they have hotels in the countries you travel for work – or want to travel on awards? So, here is an overview of the IHG group of hotels to help you choose:
Regions: Focus on America
Three quarter of the IHG hotels are located in the Americas, 15% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and only 8% in Asia and the Pacific. If you are traveling a lot in the US, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a hotel anywhere you go. While there are a lot fewer hotels in Europe or Asia, keep in mind that with 4,900 hotels globally, they still have about 1,200 hotels in those regions – that’s more than Hyatt or Carlson have worldwide! The number and distribution of hotels worldwide gives IHG a distinct advantage over other chains as your go-to rewards program – that’s why I ended up moving a lot of my business spend to them when I started to travel internationally.
Brands: Holiday Inn / Express is the core
IHG has a staggering 10 different hotel brands – it’s hard to keep up with all of them as a casual traveler (click on the brand names for more details on each brand). But, don’t despair, the Holiday Inn Express (49%) and Holiday Inn (26%) brands are the backbone of IHG hotels, making up three quarters of all hotels. The slightly more upscale Crowne Plaza brand is next followed by the extended stay hotels Candlewood and Staybridge Suites. The flagship InterContinental hotels make up only 4% of the group and all the remaining brands, Indigo (boutique), even (holistic wellness), Hualuxe (China) and ANA (Japan) make up less than 1.5%.
Price: Mostly mid-level hotels
Holiday Inn Express and the extended stay hotels are mid-level hotels with limited service offerings: You get a nice room and breakfast, maybe even a pool or gym, but don’t look for a concierge or bell boys. They make up 60% of the hotels. The Holiday Inn and Crown Plaza hotels are still mid-level, but offer full services and have restaurants and usually conference rooms, pools and gyms, as well as more staff on hand. That puts 96% of the IHG properties into the mid-level – that’s great if that’s the level you are looking to pay for or what your company allows on business travel. It’s not such a good fit, if your company allows more upscale properties for your business travel – which is why Hyatt and the Starwood group are so popular with many business travelers.
Rewards: Affordable awards!
Another reason why I liked the IHG group from a rewards perspective is that so many hotels in the IHG Rewards Program are available at low rewards levels: Few programs have more than 10% in the lowest category. In some programs (looking at you, Hilton), the lowest award category is only a marketing tool with a handful of hotels in it! On the other hand, less than 2% of the hotels fall into the top three categories, making the vast majority of hotels quite affordable. I would consider the category 6-9 hotels “aspirational”, including great hotels that I happily will save points or certificates for, including the InterContinental Ko Samui, InterContinental Bora Bora or InterContinental Hong Kong!
Conclusion: If you need hotels all over the world, are looking to stay mostly at reliable mid-level hotels and splurge every once-in-a-while at an upscale luxury hotel, the IHG group will be a good fit: 4,900 hotels in close to 100 countries, the vast majority at affordable rates, combined with about 350 gems for aspirational stays is worth checking out for you!