New Holiday Inn for Brussels confirms sector optimism

Tim Harrup

IHG Hotels & Resorts has just announced that it is making continued progress against its 2021 growth strategy for Holiday Inn Express in Europe. The brand attracts guests across both the corporate travel and leisure markets and, IHG goes on to say, continues to grow globally. There are 277 Holiday Inn Express hotels operating in Europe and over 60 more are set to open their doors in the next 3-5 years.

Despite the recent challenges the industry has faced, IHG Hotels & Resorts points out that it signed 11 new Holiday Inn Express properties across Europe in 2020, which complements its 17 European openings for the same period. Leisure signings and openings are a key focus for the brand in 2021, with Holiday Inn Express Ajaccio France and Holiday Inn Express – Brussels Grand Place due to open later this summer.

The resilience of the Holiday Inn Express brand and operating model was further underlined, says IHG, through the Covid pandemic when – even at the height of government mandated hotel closures across Europe – over 80% of the brand’s hotels were permitted to remain open for essential travel.

Willemijn Geels, Vice President, Development, Europe, IHG Hotels & Resorts comments: “At IHG Hotels & Resorts, we take pride in the continued growth of our brands, and so I am delighted to see Holiday Inn Express entering new European leisure destinations which is a key focus for us this year. From airport and motorway locations to city centres, seaside locations and the opportunity to convert alongside new build opportunities, the brand delivers a consistent and reliable guest offer that has been resilient throughout Covid-19. These signings and openings show the continued trust our owners and partners place in IHG and our brands. We’re truly excited to watch these properties come to life, and welcome more in the future.”

It is perhaps relevant to look at the performance of the hotel industry in figures, with data collected not from Brussels or Belgium, but from a country with an even greater business and tourism activity – France. A report by Extenso TCH reveals that in light of travel restrictions, most hotel rooms which were occupied in 2020 were in the economy and super-economy categories, of which Holiday Inn Express is a part. Overall, in 2020 the hotel sector saw its occupancy drop by 63%. The economy and super-economy categories, however, limited this to 60% and 36% respectively.