Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Hotel Indigo is IHG’s boutique hotel brand. In creating it, IHG wanted to combine the design and service of a boutique hotel with the conveniences and consistencies a major hotel company could provide. As of the end of the first quarter, there were 57 Hotel Indigo properties open worldwide, with another 52 in the pipeline. Mary Winslow, director of Americas brand management for Hotel Indigo, describes the brand’s positioning further.
How does Hotel Indigo stand out compared to other franchise brands? The hotels are meant to provide a refreshing local experience for guests who want to experience something unique and different when they travel. Unlike other franchise brands, no two Hotel Indigo properties are the same. We work hard to ensure that each is designed to reflect its particular neighborhood.
How successful has the brand been in targeting a specific demographic guest? For the Hotel Indigo brand, we feel it’s more about psychographics than targeting a specific demographic group. Our guests tend to want an authentic connection to a neighborhood and have a naturally curious mind-set. Furthermore, they’re often well traveled globally and are socially conscious. They’re interested in the arts and science. Because this guest profile doesn’t apply to one demographic specifically, we find that the Hotel Indigo brand attractive across generations.
Are there markets that would warrant multiple Hotel Indigos without cannibalizing the concept? Yes. In fact, we’re focused on growing in specific neighborhoods that we feel have a unique story to tell. Consequently, it’s not unusual to find multiple Hotel Indigo properties within the same market. In New York City, for example, we have Hotel Indigo hotels open in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan and in Brooklyn. Two more are in the pipeline for two other Manhattan neighborhoods: the Lower East Side and the Financial District. We also have multiple hotels open, with more in the pipeline in Miami, Chicago, and Atlanta.
Would IHG suggest Hotel Indigo for a first-time franchisee? Absolutely. We see a lot of first-time hotel owners choose Hotel Indigo for their first hotel project. Because we aren’t a prototypical brand and don’t have a standard design, many owners look at the Hotel Indigo brand as a creative option for their real estate assets. They don’t have to be experts in running a hotel. We feel that’s what the brand and IHG as a company are there for. We provide people tools, a large hotel loyalty program, and the booking systems and sales teams to drive business to their hotels.
Do you feel the concept works equally well for new builds and conversions? Because there’s no prototypical design, we believe the concept works well for conversions, adaptive reuse projects, mixed-use developments, and new builds. Several Hotel Indigo properties formerly had non-hotel uses. Through our construction and design process, they emerged as true to the brand yet still organic to their neighborhood. The Nashville Hotel Indigo is a good example. It’s located in a historic building that once housed two different banks. The hotel in Ottawa, Canada, was once a YWCA. Meanwhile, the Hotel Indigo in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is an example of a new build we think breaks new ground. It features an exterior art installation that mimics the waves of the nearby Pacific Ocean.