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Perhaps inspired by the tremendous efforts of the Hyatt PR team last week (“purposeful furniture” and “reimagined breakfast” etc), IHG has gone a step further and decided to launch a whole new brand based on more ‘locally-curated’ ‘me time’ than you can shake a stick at. Welcome to the “Voco Life“.
“We call our hotels voco. It means ‘to invite’ and ‘call together’ originating from Latin – representing our thoughtful, unstuffy and charming nature.
Guests tell us that voco sounds fun without being vanilla, trendy without being alienating, and premium without being stuffy.
This unique and playful attitude, combined with a consistent level of quality, sits at the heart of our brand.”
Yeah, I know.
I could make a series of (mildly) amusing sarcastic comments, but to be honest I don’t think I could come up with anything more entertaining than what IHG has already done. They’ve genuinely published something called, ‘The Book of Voco’.
Aptly, it starts with “Why”:
What is this actually all about?
The big hotel companies love developing new hotel brands – it’s basically their bread and butter. The vast majority of ‘chain’ hotels these days are’t owned by IHG, or Hilton, or Marriott (or whatever), they are operated under franchise or management agreements instead. IHG (and the rest) seek to persuade hotel owners/investors to adopt one of their brands – for which the owner then, of course, pays a fee.
The reason hotel companies love new brands is that it gives them something new to sell – a hotel owner might not be terribly interested in opening the 7th Crowne Plaza or Holiday Inn in a city, but being the first Voco might seem much more appealing.
Over the last few years, the trend in the industry has been to create new brands which are deliberately less ‘cookie cutter’, allowing existing hotels to convert quickly, easily and relatively cheaper. Brands like Holiday Inn Express might work well for new build hotels, but they insist on a strict brand standard – and many existing hotel owners don’t want to lose their individual style. Brands like Marriott’s Autograph Collection and Hilton’s Curio Collection allow individually styled/ boutique hotels to benefit from being part of a global booking/loyalty behemoth without losing their identity and Voco appears to be IHG’s attempt at something similar.
As much as I despise the inevitable marketing gibberish that goes hand in hand with these sort of brand launches (and I dislike the name ‘Voco’ with unusual passion), I actually think the general idea is a good one. Mixing the individuality of genuine boutique hotels with the reassurance and loyalty benefits of booking through a global hotel company, is a much more compelling offer (to both hotel owners and hotel guests) than the attempts of the big companies to create their own notionally ’boutique’ brands.
What do you think of Voco? 😉