Huge hotel mash-up in the works?

The new (ish) InterContinental New York Times Square is one of my favorites (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

The new (ish) InterContinental New York Times Square is one of my favorites (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

News broke today (Monday May 26) that the UK-based InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is the target of a takeover by a US hotel company, which many believe to be Starwood Hotels & Resorts. IHG has reportedly rejected the $10 billion offer. (Memorial Day in the US and a bank holiday in the UK mean news is scant on this one.)

IHG brands include Holiday Inn, Indigo, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental and Staybridge Suites, among others.

Despite the rejection, Starwood could come back with a sweeter offer. Britain’s newspaper The Guardian speculated “InterContinental’s attraction to an American business would be to help it save billions by moving its tax domicile to Britain.”

This would be an interesting combination for frequent travelers. IHG’s Rewards Club is the largest hotel loyalty program in the world. Starwood’s Preferred Guest program is undeniably one of the most popular. A mash up of the two programs would expand earning and burning opportunities like crazy.

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My first reaction is to try and figure out which IHG brands or hotel would align best with current Starwood brands. Here are a few thoughts. I’d love to hear yours!

First off, Starwood is likely after IHG for its prize: The Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express brands. Starwood has always lacked a strong midscale product (4 Points just doesn’t cut it) and this would round out its brand portfolio nicely.

If Starwood gets IHG, I bet it would keep the well-known Holiday Inn Brand, but likely fold IHG’s other brands into existing Starwood brands.

Starwood's new (and very popular) Aloft brand now at SFO (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

I’m a big fan of IHG’s hip Indigo Brand, and could see most of those new hotels easily folded into Starwood’s trendy W or Aloft brands.

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IHG’s InterContinental brand would probably split up, with its nice grand dames mixing nicely with Starwood’s Luxury Collection, Le Meridien or maybe even St Regis (although many would need significant upgrades.) For example, I could see the InterContinental Mark Hopkins in SF or the Barclay in NYC in that category. The larger, more modern convention-style InterContinentals (like the InterContinental Times Square, or the one by Moscone Center in SF) would likely become Westins or Sheratons.

Speaking of Sheratons, I could seen nearly all of InterConti’s Crowne Plaza hotels (primarily focused on meetings and, at least in my experience, hosting flight crews) fitting into the Starwood portfolio best as Sheratons.

IHG’s Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites would likely become Element hotels, Starwood’s new extended stay product.

How do you think Starwood and IHG would mash up? Does the combination of these two giant brands excite or scare you? Please leave your comments below!

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–Chris McGinnis

Link to Guardian story here

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