There is, almost literally, no end to the number of hotels brands which the major global hotel groups think can be sustained.
Marriott Bonvoy is now at 31 following the acquisition of City Express, whilst Accor is over 40 – with more if you include all of the Ennismore ones.
It’s always fun to watch companies justify the ‘gap in the market’ they want to fill when they already have 30-40 brands. In truth, it is often about geographical rights – if you gave exclusivity to someone who opened a Marriott in a certain city, you’ve always got Delta, or Renaissance, or Courtyard or …..
Today’s new brand is from IHG and is called Garner. It will be the 19th brand in the IHG One Rewards stable.
What is IHG’s new ‘Garner’ brand all about?
Garner is a ‘conversion brand’.
Most hotel brands come with a very fat manual of brand standards. After all, the whole point of a brand is that you know what to expect when you arrive. I remember having a tour of Kimpton Fitzroy in London and having the water fridge in the gym pointed out to me – Kimpton insists not only that its gyms have fridges, but that they include flavoured as well as regular water. Multiply this by 500 and you have your typical ‘brand standards’ list.
A ‘conversion brand’ is different. It is aimed at owners of existing hotels who want to join a ‘system’, in this case IHG One Rewards, but don’t want to spend the money required to adjust the property to ‘brand standard’ levels.
The best known conversion brand is probably Hilton’s DoubleTree. It’s famous for giving you a chocolate chip cookie when you check in, but apart from that there is nothing else which you can be certain of getting.
As we covered in another article today, Marriott has Delta. Originally a Canadian four star chain, Marriott bought it and decided to use the brand for conversions.
IHG already has ‘voco’ which is a 4-star conversion brand. The hotels have little in common except a requirement to have a few splashes of yellow around the place.
As well as ‘conversion’ brands, you also have ‘soft’ brands such as Marriott’s Autograph Collection, IHG’s Vignette and Hilton’s Curio Collection. Aimed at the luxury market, ‘soft’ brands allow hotels to trade under their historic names whilst also having a similar lax approach to brand standards as you would find with a conversion brand.
‘Garner’ is aimed at midscale conversions, so the 3-star to lower 4-star range. To put this in context, Holday Inn Express is seen as ‘upper midscale’, so the hotels will be downmarket from that.
Amusingly the PR release says:
The brand will be the leading choice for guests wanting great value stays at high-quality properties, and for owners seeking higher returns in the midscale segment.
So it’s for guests who think they are booking a “high quality” hotel but in fact they are booking a “midscale” hotel which happens to look smart and so commands higher rates ….
The hotels will offer free hot breakfast and be focussed on value for money. Hotels will include a Garner Shop mini-market and be obliged to offer a free glass of flavoured water when checking in, which is the equivalent of the DoubleTree cookie.
We are told that “owners will value the brand’s flexible approach to conversions”, which seems to be a polite way of saying that IHG isn’t setting the bar very high when it comes to what it will require.
To put in context how quickly hotels can be turned around, IHG isn’t accepting applications from hotels until September 2023, but still intends to have the first US properties open by Christmas. The goal for the US alone is to have 500 Garner hotels within a decade. There is no date yet for the international launch.
IHG One Rewards update – December 2023:
Get bonus points: Our article on IHG’s current bonus promotion is here. You will receive 2,000 bonus points for every two cash nights you stay until 31st December. Nights do not need to be consecutive. Click here to register.
New to IHG One Rewards? Read our overview of IHG One Rewards here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our article on ‘What are IHG One Rewards points worth?’ is here.
Buy points: If you need additional IHG One Rewards points, you can buy them here.
IHG is offering a 100% bonus (some members may be offered less) when you buy points by 30th December 2023. Click here to buy.
Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from IHG and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.