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IHG launches new upscale ‘conversion brand’ voco – but what is a ‘conversion brand’?

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IHG has announced a new upscale brand which will join its hotel portfolio later this year: voco.

The word voco is latin and means to invite, to call together. The hotels are intended to ‘combine familiar comforts, with the indulgences of a hotel’.

Standard-wise voco hotels will be comparable to IHG’s Crowne Plaza brand and there are plans to have voco city centre hotels as well as resorts.  It is likely that some of the UK Principal Hotel sites that IHG recently bought will be converted into voco.

Here is the voco website.

voco is a conversion brand

Let me explain what that means ….

Voco hotels

Most hotel brands come with a very long checklist of standards.  Whether it is to do with minimum room sizes, 24 hour room service, the size of the beds, the provision of desks, the provision of a coffee maker, the requirement for showers to be ‘power showers’ etc, there is a long list of boxes which must be ticked.

‘Conversion brands’ do not need to tick any boxes.  As long as they meet a general quality standard, they are ‘in’.  There is also often no requirement to sign up to timetabled refurbishments.  This makes them attractive to hotel owners who want to switch from their current brand.

IHG's new upscale hotel brand, voco

Karin Sheppard, managing director of IHG Europe said about voco that the “Upscale segment of the hotel industry is a $40 billion opportunity and is set to grow by another $20 billion by 2025. It is one which we see the chance to extend through a conversion brand.”

As a conversion brand no two voco hotels will be the same. There is a list of requirements (including a bar), but no fixed brand standards.  In the US, conversion brands are popular with hotels with external air conditioning units – you couldn’t become a Hilton if you had those, but you could become a DoubleTree.  Stucco ceilings in rooms are also generally a ‘no no’.

IHG's new upscale hotel brand, voco

Voco is comparable with Hilton’s DoubleTree brand where every guest knows that they can expect to receive a chocolate chip cookie at check in, but that’s about it.

Hotels that join the voco brand will only receive a small makeover including adding the recognisable voco colour and fabric scheme.  Guests will receive a local welcome treat which will often be a yellow macaroon.

The voco website advertises its hotels as ‘reliable enough to depend on, but different enough to be fun’.

All hotels will have to comply with the three hallmarks (come on in, me time and voco life) and its mascots (finch, owl and flamingo) – click to enlarge:

Voco hotel principals

The first voco hotel will be the Watermark Hotel and Spa Gold Coast in Australia later this year. IHG is striving to open around 200 hotels in the next 10 years, with the UK ex-Principal Hotel sites making up some of the early ones.

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Comments (41)

  • the real harry1 says:

    O/T – wife & 2 kids (so 3 of them) travelling to Rome for a few days in August – any tips on decent budget-ish hotel that is central-ish plus will let 3 of them stay in the same room, wife won’t care about sharing double bed with daughter? TIA

    Currently Plat so could easily enrol on any of the Plat hotel status schemes if that helps her get free breakfast etc

  • Mingus says:

    As childish as it is, I can’t help but point out that it is easy to misread “Come on in me time.” Having made this mistake the first time I read it, that is now the image that sticks.

  • the real harry1 says:

    sorted, historic centre hotel, not a chain, reviews well
    In Rome City Centre
    Spanish Steps (1-minute walk)
    Trevi Fountain (14-minute walk)
    Colosseum (25-minute walk)
    St. Peter’s Basilica (30-minute walk)
    Piazza del Popolo (2-minute walk)
    Villa Borghese (5-minute walk)
    Piazza Navona (16-minute walk)
    National Gallery of Modern Art (17-minute walk)
    Pantheon (18-minute walk)
    Castel Sant’Angelo (19-minute walk)

  • Alex Sm says:

    What’s the difference between voco and indigo brands – both seem to have the same concept and roughly the CP equivalent in service?