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definition - Holiday_Inn

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Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn Hotels
Type Subsidiary of the InterContinental Hotels Group
Industry Hotels
Founded Memphis, Tennessee
(August 1, 1952 (1952-08-01))
Founder(s) Kemmons Wilson
Headquarters Denham, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom
Number of locations 1,874 (United States)
Area served Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific
Services Food services, lodging, conventions, meetings, timeshares
Parent InterContinental Hotels Group
Website holidayinn.com
References: [1]

Holiday Inn is a brand of hotels, formerly an economy motel chain, forming part of the British InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). It is one of the world's largest hotel chains with 238,440 bedrooms and 1,301 hotels globally. There are 100 million guest nights each year, globally.



Kemmons Wilson initially came up with the idea after a family road trip to Washington, D.C., during which he was disappointed by the quality and consistency provided by the roadside motels of the time. The name Holiday Inn was given to the original hotel by his architect Eddie Bluestein as a joke, in reference to the musical film Holiday Inn (1942), starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. The first Holiday Inn opened at 4941 Summer Avenue in Memphis, the main highway to Nashville, in August 1952 as Holiday Inn Hotel Courts. The motel was demolished in the early 1990s, but there is a plaque commemorating the site.

Wilson partnered with Wallace E. Johnson (1901-1988)[2] to build additional motels on the roads entering Memphis. Holiday Inn's corporate headquarters was in a converted plumbing shed owned by Johnson in 1953, when the company built its first four hotels, one covering each approach to Memphis. On the occasion of Johnson's death, Wilson was quoted as saying, "The greatest man I ever knew died today. He was the greatest partner a man could ever have." Together they started what Wilson would shepherd into Holiday Corp., one of the world's largest hotel groups.

In 1957, Wilson franchised the chain as Holiday Inn of America and it grew dramatically, following Wilson's original tenet that the properties should be standardized, clean, predictable, family-friendly and readily accessible to road travellers. By 1958, there were 50 locations across the country, 100 by 1959, 500 by 1964, and the 1,000th Holiday Inn opened in San Antonio, Texas, in 1968. The chain then became known as "The Nation's Innkeeper". The chain dominated the motel market, leveraged its innovative Holidex reservation system, put considerable financial pressure on traditional hotels and set the standard for its competitors, like Ramada Inns, Quality Inn, Howard Johnson's, and Best Western. By June 1972, when Wilson was featured on the cover of Time magazine, there were over 1,400 Holiday Inn hotels worldwide. The motto then changing to "The World's Innkeeper". Innovations like the company's Holidome indoor pools turned many hotels into roadside resorts.

  Holiday Inn, Nicosia, Cyprus
  Holiday Inn, Southampton, England
  Holiday Inn in Everett, Washington
  Holiday Inn in São Paulo

In the 1960s, Holiday Inn began franchising and opening campgrounds under the Holiday Inn Travel-L-Park brand. These recreational campgrounds were listed in the Holiday Inn directories.[3][4]

The company later branched into other enterprises, including Medi-Center nursing homes, Continental Trailways, Delta Queen, and Show-Biz, Inc., a television production company that specialized in syndicated country music shows. Wilson also developed the Orange Lake Resort and Country Club near Orlando and a chain called Wilson World Hotels. The acquisition of Trailways in 1968 lasted until 1979 when Holiday sold Trailways to private investor Henry Lea Hillman Sr., of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; in the years during which Trailways was a subsidiary of Holiday Inn, television commercials for Holiday Inn frequently showed a Trailways bus stopping at a Holiday Inn hotel. Wilson retired from Holiday Inn in 1979. As of 2012 the family of founder Kemmons Wilson still operates hotels as part of the Kemmons Wilson Companies of Memphis.

  New style Holiday Inn near the Chicago Midway International Airport

Although still a healthy company, changing business conditions and demographics saw Holiday Inn lose its market dominance in the 1980s. Holiday Inns, Inc. was renamed "Holiday Corporation" in 1985 to reflect the growth of the company’s brands, including Harrah's Entertainment, Embassy Suites Hotels, Crowne Plaza, Homewood Suites by Hilton and Hampton Inn. In 1988, Holiday Corporation was purchased by UK-based Bass PLC (the owners of the Bass beer brand), followed by the remaining domestic Holiday Inn hotels in 1990, when founder Wilson sold his interest, after which the hotel group was known as Holiday Inn Worldwide. The remainder of Holiday Corporation (including the Embassy Suites Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton and Hampton Inn brands) was spun off to shareholders as Promus Companies Incorporated. In 1990, Bass launched Holiday Inn Express, a complementary brand in the limited service segment.[5] [6] [7]

In 1994, Bass launched Crowne Plaza, a move into the upscale hotel market. In 1997 Bass created and launched a new hotel brand, Staybridge Suites by Holiday Inn, entering the North American upscale extended stay market. In March 1998 Bass acquired the InterContinental brand, expanding into the luxury hotel market. In 2000 Bass sold its brewing assets (and the rights to the Bass name) and changed its name to Six Continents PLC. InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) was created in 2003 after Six Continents split into two daughter companies: Mitchells & Butlers PLC to handle restaurant assets, and IHG to focus on soft drinks and hotels, including the Holiday Inn brand.[8]

The brand name Holiday Inn is now owned by IHG, which in turn licenses the name to franchisees and third parties who operate hotels under management agreements.[9]

In January 2002, The Wall Street Journal reported that the company, led by Ravi Saligram, was producing a new 130-room "Next Generation" prototype hotel to rebuild the brand. It would include a bistro-like restaurant and an indoor pool. The first of these prototype hotels, the Holiday Inn Gwinnett Center, was built in Duluth, Georgia, in 2003.

On October 24, 2007, IHG announced a worldwide relaunch of the Holiday Inn brand, which spelled trouble for the remaining HI motels. The relaunch is "focused on delivering consistently best in class service and physical quality levels, including a redesigned welcome experience [and] signature bedding and bathroom products..." The first relaunched Holiday Inn opened in the USA in the spring of 2008. Currently there are more than 2,500 relaunched Holiday Inn brand hotels around the world, and the Holiday Inn global brand relaunch process was completed by the end of 2010.[10] By then, the majority of the HI motels were removed from the chain, with a few exceptions (In the 1980s and 1990s HI hotels were built alongside the motel properties (i.e. Baton Rouge, Louisiana) in order to provide more amenities and newer rooms. When the relaunch occurred these motels were relived as a hotel was already on site. To this day, only a few Holiday Inn motels still fly under the flag.

In September 2008, IHG announced the creation of a new timeshare brand, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, a strategic alliance with The Family of Orange Lake Resorts.[11] The Holiday Inn at Chessington World of Adventures is safari-themed, with a Zafari Bar and Grill.

  Great Sign

  The Great Sign from a 1960s Holiday Inn postcard

The "Great Sign" is the roadside sign used by Holiday Inn during their original era of expansion in the 1950s-1970s. It consisted of a marquee box; a tower with either red, orange, or blue neon lighting, a large chasing arrow that always pointed towards the motel/hotel, and a 4-stage flashing animated neon star at the top. It had 1500 feet of neon tubing and over 500 incandescent light bulbs. It was introduced by Kemmons Wilson when he opened his first motel on August 1, 1952. The signs were extremely large and eye-catching, but were expensive to construct and operate. The sign, including the famous script logo, was originally designed by Memphis, TN artist, James A. Anderson, Sr., a commercial artist who later became known for his oil paintings of Mexico and the American southwest. The manufacturers of the sign were members of the Balton family, whose ancestor D.F. Balton founded Balton & Sons in Memphis in 1875. The story goes that the sign’s colors were selected because they were favorites of Wilson’s mother. The popularity of the sign led to many clones being produced, some of which remain to this day. In 1982, following Wilson's departure, the Holiday Inn board of directors made the decision to phase out the "Great Sign" in favor of a cheaper and less catchy backlit sign that still maintained the original backscript logo (this changed after the second remodel). The decision was not without controversy as it essentially signaled the end of the Wilson era and removed a widely recognized company icon. Wilson was angered about this, saying, "It was the worst mistake they ever made". Sadly, the majority of the signs were sold as scrap metal and recycled.

In 2003, in a program of hotel redesign, the company brought back a revamped version of the Great Sign that showed up the company's advertising under the slogan "Relax, it's Holiday Inn." The makeover came with a new prototype hotel that included photography of the sign and a retro-style diner named after founder Kemmons Wilson. The idea was later scrapped.

  The Great Sign as once seen on US Highways in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s

Several intact fragments of the famous sign have been restored and relit, mostly the Holiday Inn top section of the sign, and the marquee box. However, in 2006 a complete sign was finally found. The disassembled sign, complete with star, marquee box, and the sign base, was discovered in a backlot in Minnesota. On June 3, 2007 it was purchased by a neon sign restoration expert, in order to restore it to its 1950s glory. It is currently being restored and reassembled, and after completion, it will be displayed at the National Save the Neon Signs Museum in Minot, North Dakota. Another sign has been preserved at Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

  Business relationship with Gulf Oil

In 1963, Holiday Inns signed a long-term deal with Gulf Oil Corporation in which the lodging chain would accept Gulf credit cards to charge food and lodging at all of its hotels (in the United States and Canada). In return, Gulf would build service stations on the premises of many Holiday Inn properties, particularly those along or near major U.S. and Interstate highways. Many older Holiday Inns locations (including some no longer part of the chain) still have the service station properties intact today, either still in operation or closed down. With the exception of a few locations in the eastern U.S., hardly any of the still-open stations are now Gulf outlets. The portion of the agreement which permitted Gulf credit cards to be used for payment of food and lodging at Holiday Inns was copied by competing lodging chains and major oil companies during the mid-to-late 1960s. Most of those agreements fizzled out with the 1973 oil crisis. The Gulf/Holiday Inn arrangement ended around 1982.

  Historical trademark conflicts

  • For two decades a hotel called Holiday Inn located in Niagara Falls, Ontario prevented the Holiday Inn Corporation from operating one of its own hotels in that city since the name was already in use. The hotel used a logo similar to the old Holiday Inn logo from the 1970s. The Holiday Inn Corporation directory referred to the hotel as "not part of this Holiday Inn system". The hotel also owned the holidayinn.com domain,[12] which forced the much larger corporation to use holiday-inn.com. In 2006, an agreement between IHG and the Niagara Falls, Ontario hotel owners was reached that allowed both the Hotel and Holidayinn.com to be incorporated into the IHG system.[13]
  • During the 1960s and early 1970s, Holiday Inn hotels located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina were simply called "Holiday" because a local motel already had the "Holiday Inn" name. The name was contested by Holiday Inns, Inc. v Holiday Inn before the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina (Florence division) in 1973. The South Carolina Holiday Inn had franchised their name to Strand Development Corporation, which filed a counterclaim against Holiday Inns, Inc.[14] The dispute resulted in a concurrent use registration for the Myrtle Beach hotel, which still operates as "Holiday Inn", although it is required to use a distinctly different font.



  Holiday Inn in Cardiff
  Express by Holiday Inn, Park Royal, London.
  • Holiday Inn – This is the most recognizable tier of service. There are two distinct types: high-rise, full-service plaza hotels and low-rise, full-service hotels. The former also included many high-rises with round, central-core construction, instantly recognizable from the 1970s. Both offer a restaurant, pools at most locations, room service, an exercise room, and functional but comfortable rooms.
    • Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites – The properties offer all the amenities and services of a regular Holiday Inn but consist of rooms mixed with suites.
    • Holiday Inn Resort – The properties also offer all the amenities and services of a full-service Holiday Inn; resorts are considered a more of an advertising branding than a completely different brand. Most Holiday Inn Resorts are located in high-leisure-tourism markets.
  • Holiday Inn Select – These upper-range full-service hotels cater to business travelers. In 2006 it was announced that Holiday Inn Select hotels would be discontinued. Existing hotels may continue to operate under the Holiday Inn Select flag until their existing license expires, however many are converting to Crowne Plaza or regular Holiday Inn hotels, with no further marketing or advertising based around the "Select" moniker. Several Select hotels still remain as of June 2012.
  • Holiday Inn Sunspree Resorts (officially named SunSpree) – The properties are in resort areas with full-service amenities and deluxe service. These are typically very large properties.
  • Holiday Inn Garden Court – The properties exist only in Europe and South Africa and are designed to reflect the national culture.
  • Holiday Inn Express – The properties are smaller versions of Holiday Inn hotels with fewer amenities and services.


Although originally called "Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza", the Crowne Plaza moniker was split from Holiday Inn in 1994 to form a distinctive brand.

During the 1960s and 1970s there were several Holiday Inn Jr. motels with just 44 to 48 guest rooms located in portables. Locations included Camden, Arkansas, Rantoul, Illinois. Cleveland, Mississippi, Sardis, Mississippi, Farmington, Missouri, Springfield, Tennessee and Columbus, Texas. A traditionally constructed lobby building featured a Holiday Grill restaurant. The Camden location had just 32 rooms while the Rantoul location had 64 rooms.

Holiday Inn Magazine was a monthly publication for guests during the 1970s. It featured travel destination and attraction stories in addition to a featured hotel property.

In 1996, Holiday Inn hired advertising firm Fallon McElligott, dropping Young & Rubicam after a six-year relationship.[15]

Some hotels in the UK are equipped with a Chargebox, a machine for charging devices such as mobile phones, PDAs, iPods, PSPs, and other small, mobile electronics.

  Holiday Inn Club Vacations

  Orange Lake Legends golf course in Orlando

In the early 1980s, Wilson bought a large plot of land bordering Walt Disney World. On this land he built the Orange Lake Resort. Recently, Orange Lake has bought out other resorts and still plans to acquire more. Because there are now many resorts in the company the Holiday Inn Vacation Club was launched in September 2008. There are currently[when?] six Holiday Inn Club Vacations resort properties: [16]

  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Ascutney Mountain Resort, Brownsville, Vermont
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Bay Point Resort, Panama City, Florida
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Lake Geneva Resort, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort, Orlando, Florida
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacation at South Beach Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Holiday Inn Vacation Club at Smoky Mountain Resort, Gatlinburg, Tennessee

  Remaining motel properties

As of 2011 only a few motels from the HI Wilson Era remain under the chain. These properties would typically have a full-service hotel and restaurant on the property.

  • The Baton Rouge Holiday Inn South on 9940 Airline Highway opened in April 1968. The two-story C-shaped structure centered around a pool and surrounding courtyard, a popular method for motels of the period. An on-site restaurant provided hungry guests with satisfiable meals. In 1984, the company, going on a capital spending spree, decided to construct a new six-story Holidome on the location of the motel's registration and restaurant sites. Both the 1960s motel and the modern hotel flourished well into the 1990s, which was the case for many other separate HI motel properties. In 2008, when Holiday Inn began the global relaunch, the company asked the hotel to demolish the original portion, or to remodel the structure. The hotel refused to do so, and after many arguments, a deal was made to allow the motel portion in the new chain. Today, it is one of the best preserved Holiday Inn motels that is still under Holiday Inn. The hotel's website mentions the motel as a "Exterior Courtyard". The motel's original swimming pool and courtyard still remain to this day.


  1. ^ "Supplementary Information". International Hotels Group. March 31, 2009. http://www.ihgplc.com/files/results/results09Q1/downloads/slides09Q1.pdf. Retrieved June 6, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Wallace E. Johnson: Co-founder of Holiday Inn chain". Los Angeles Times. 1988-04-29. http://articles.latimes.com/1988-04-29/news/mn-2277_1_holiday-inn. Retrieved 2012-06-25.  Fowler, Glenn (1988-04-29). "Wallace E. Johnson, Co-founder of Holiday Inns chain in 1950's". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1988/04/29/obituaries/wallace-e-johnson-co-founder-of-holiday-inns-chain-in-1950-s.html. Retrieved 2012-06-25.  {{
  3. ^ "Removed From Timesharing, Jon DeHaan Stays Busy In Other Ways". Ampersandcom.com. http://www.ampersandcom.com/ampersandcommunications/JonDeHaanremovedfromtimesharing.htm. Retrieved 2011-12-11. 
  4. ^ Article for campground opening in Daytona
  5. ^ "On the Road, Sleeping for Less". The New York Times. December 16, 1990. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F30615FA3D5F0C758DDDAB0994D8494D81. 
  6. ^ "You get what you pay for in economy motels". The News and Courier/Evening Post, Charleston, SC. November 11, 1990. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=yYZJAAAAIBAJ&sjid=6wsNAAAAIBAJ&pg=1371,3991818&dq=You+get+what+you+pay+for+in+economy+motels. 
  7. ^ "Holiday Inn Enters New Market Area". Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky. October 8, 1990. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=m_oaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=qUcEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2064,1692894&dq=holiday-inn-express&hl=en. 
  8. ^ "Our History". InterContinental Hotels Group. January 9, 2008. http://www.ihgplc.com/index.asp?pageid=326. Retrieved June 6, 2009. 
  9. ^ Barbara De Lollis (July 23, 2007). "Holiday Inn chain gives itself a face-lift". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/travel/hotels/2007-07-19-holiday-inn_N.htm. Retrieved August 3, 2007. 
  10. ^ IHG announces worldwide brand relaunch of Holiday Inn
  11. ^ "Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts". InterContinental Hotels Group. May 12, 2009. http://www.ihgplc.com/index.asp?pageid=409. Retrieved June 6, 2009. 
  12. ^ Holidayinn.com
  13. ^ Holiday Inn Niagara Falls
  14. ^ Holiday Inns, Inc. v. Holiday Inn, 364 F.Supp. 775 (S.C., 1973).
  15. ^ Elliot, Stuart (August 22, 1996) The New York Times.
  16. ^ "About Us". HIClubVacations.com. 2008. http://www.hiclubvacations.com/benefits.html. Retrieved June 6, 2009. 

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