Yesterday, IHG celebrated the groundbreaking of the first property for their new brand, avid hotels, in Oklahoma City. The 87-room avid hotel Oklahoma City–Quail Springs will be a new-build property owned by Champion Hotels, an Oklahoma-based developer and operator.
A midscale brand that officially launched only two months ago, avid hotels is attracting a lot of attention around the industry. According to Elie Maalouf, CEO, The Americas, at IHG, there are already 34 signed deals for avid hotels and more than 100 hoteliers have already submitted franchise applications. LODGING caught up with Maalouf yesterday, before the groundbreaking ceremony, to discuss the new brand and its anticipated place in the hotel industry.
How did it come to be that Champion Hotels is developing the first avid hotel?
We’ve been thoughtful about all of the elements of this brand from the beginning, and one of the elements was a close collaboration with our owners. We accomplished this by establishing an owner advisory board comprised of key owners who have been working with us from the beginning. These owners have given us the benefit of their experience, working with us to properly position, design, and establish the brand. It’s been a very close collaboration. Champion hotels, and their leader, Champ Patel, have been one of the key members of this owner advisory board, and their reputation in the industry, their passion, their trust, their intrinsic knowledge of this industry and of our brands made them a natural fit for the first avid.
What is launching a new brand from scratch like?
We have a lot of experience with designing and launching new, successful brands. So we were sure to bring that experience, as well as the talented individuals who work with us on those successful brands, to avid to ensure that we’re opening properly. Also, we consider this an opportunity to continue to learn and improve. That continuous learning and development isn’t limited to avid hotels—it’s ongoing in all of our brands.
What about avid is most exciting to you?
We actually had a conversation about this last night at dinner. In any career, a person may get, if they’re lucky, one, two, three opportunities at most to work on a truly new idea, whether that be a new brand, a new product, a new anything. We firmly believe that avid hotels is one of those truly new ideas. It’s going after a very large, $20 billion, underserved midscale market. There are millions of guests that are underserved in this market, and they told us they want this type of brand, this type of experience. They want the basics done exceptionally well but at a great value. And so we’re bringing this brand, with an ADR $10 to $15 below Holiday Inn Express, with a production cost 10 percent to 15 percent lower than Holiday Inn Express, to guests and owners. That’s going to have an impact on the industry, and that’s very exciting.