Holiday Inn

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Holiday Inn Hotels
TypeSubsidiary of the InterContinental Hotels Group
FoundedMemphis, Tennessee
(August 1, 1952 (1952-08-01))
Founder(s)Kemmons Wilson
Headquartershead office Denham, England, United Kingdom, world office Atlanta, Georgia, United States.
Number of locations3,414
Area servedAmericas, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific
ServicesFood services, lodging, conventions, meetings, timeshares
Owner(s)InterContinental Hotels Group
ParentInterContinental Hotels Group
DivisionsHoliday Inn Express
References: [1]
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Holiday Inn Hotels
TypeSubsidiary of the InterContinental Hotels Group
FoundedMemphis, Tennessee
(August 1, 1952 (1952-08-01))
Founder(s)Kemmons Wilson
Headquartershead office Denham, England, United Kingdom, world office Atlanta, Georgia, United States.
Number of locations3,414
Area servedAmericas, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific
ServicesFood services, lodging, conventions, meetings, timeshares
Owner(s)InterContinental Hotels Group
ParentInterContinental Hotels Group
DivisionsHoliday Inn Express
References: [1]

Holiday Inn is a multinational brand of hotels, part of the British-based InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). Originally a U.S. motel chain, today it is one of the world's largest hotel chains, with 434,357 bedrooms in 3,414 hotels globally hosting over 100 million guest nights each year.[2][3]

A Holiday Inn in Belfast City Centre, Northern Ireland



Kemmons Wilson, a resident of Memphis, Tennessee, was inspired to build his own motel after being disappointed by poor quality and inconsistent roadside accommodations during a family road trip to Washington, D.C. The name Holiday Inn was given to the original hotel by his architect Eddie Bluestein as a joke, in reference to the 1942 musical film Holiday Inn, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. The first Holiday Inn opened at 1941 Summer Avenue in Memphis, the main highway to Nashville, in August 1952 as Holiday Inn Hotel Courts. In the early 1990s, it was demolished, but there is a plaque commemorating the site.

Wilson partnered with Wallace E. Johnson (1901–1988)[4] 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, the company built its next three hotels which, along with their first hotel built in 1952, covered each approach to Memphis. The second motel was built on Highway 51 South. It was followed by two more in 1953, one on Highway 51 North and another on U.S. 61. 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 Corporation, one of the world's largest hotel groups.

The Holiday Inn sign was a familiar sight on US highways in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s

By the beginning of 1956, there were 23 Holiday Inns operating with seven more due to open by year's end. In 1957 Wilson began franchising the chain as Holiday Inn of America, mandating its properties be standardized, clean, predictable, family-friendly and readily accessible to road travellers. The chain grew dramatically as a result, with 50 locations across the country by 1958, 100 by 1959, 500 by 1964, and the 1,000th Holiday Inn, in San Antonio, Texas, in 1968.

In 1965 the chain launched Holidex, a centralised reservation system where a visitor to any Holiday Inn could obtain reservations by teleprinter for any other Holiday Inn location. The only comparable systems at the time were operated by airlines (Sabre made its début in 1963). Promoting itself as "your host from coast to coast", Holiday Inn added a call centre after AT&T's introduction of +1-800 toll-free telephone number service in 1967 and updated its systems as desktop microcomputers, an invention of the 1970s, found their way into travel agencies.[5]

Branded as "The Nation's Innkeeper", the chain put considerable financial pressure on traditional motels and hotels, setting the standard for competitors like Ramada Inn, Quality Inn, Howard Johnson's, and Best Western. By June 1972, with over 1,400 Holiday Inns worldwide, Wilson was featured on the cover of Time magazine and the motto became "The World's Innkeeper".

Holiday Inn, Nicosia, Cyprus
Holiday Inn, Southampton, England
Holiday Inn in Everett, Washington
Fachada Hotel Holiday Inn Parque Anhembi

In the 1960s, Holiday Inn began franchising and opening campgrounds under the Holiday Inn Trav-L-Park brand. These recreational campgrounds were listed in the Holiday Inn directories.[6][7]

In 1963, Holiday Inn signed a long-term deal with Gulf Oil Corporation where it agreed to accept Gulf credit cards to charge food and lodging at all of its US and Canadian hotels in return for Gulf building service stations on many Holiday Inn properties, particularly near major U.S. and Interstate highways. The arrangement was copied by competing lodging chains and major oil companies during the mid-to-late 1960s, but fell out of favor following the 1973 oil crisis. The Gulf/Holiday Inn arrangement ended around 1982.

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 Inn 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 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 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.[8][9][10]

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.[11]

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.[12]

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2002 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 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 US in spring 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.[13] 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 either demolished or closed off, even if a full-service hotel was already on site. Today, less than 10 Holiday Inn motels still fly under the flag, others having been replaced by newer Holiday Inn Express locations or have switched to other chains.

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.[14]



Holiday Inn in Cardiff
Express by Holiday Inn, Park Royal, London


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]

Holiday Inn Club Vacations[edit]

Orange Lake Legends golf course in Orlando, Florida

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 Resorts has acquired other resorts and plans to continue expanding its resort portfolio. Because there are now many resorts in the company, the Holiday Inn Club Vacations was launched in September 2008. There are currently[when?] ten Holiday Inn Club Vacations resort properties:[16]

  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort, Orlando, Florida
  • 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 South Beach Resort, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Smoky Mountain Resort, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Sunset Cove Resort, Marco Island, Florida
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Desert Club Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Tropical Cove, Panama City Beach, Florida
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Galveston on the Gulf, Galveston, Texas


  1. ^ "Supplementary Information". International Hotels Group. March 31, 2009. Retrieved June 6, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Holiday Inn Express information page". 
  3. ^ "Holiday Inn information page". 
  4. ^ "Wallace E. Johnson: Co-founder of Holiday Inn chain". Los Angeles Times. 1988-04-29. Retrieved 2012-06-25.  Fowler, Glenn (1988-04-29). "Wallace E. Johnson, Co-founder of Holiday Inns chain in 1950's". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Removed From Timesharing, Jon DeHaan Stays Busy In Other Ways". Retrieved 2011-12-11. 
  7. ^ Article for campground opening in Daytona
  8. ^ "On the Road, Sleeping for Less". The New York Times. December 16, 1990. 
  9. ^ "You get what you pay for in economy motels". The News and Courier/Evening Post, Charleston, SC. November 11, 1990. 
  10. ^ "Holiday Inn Enters New Market Area". Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky. October 8, 1990. 
  11. ^ "Our History". InterContinental Hotels Group. January 9, 2008. Retrieved June 6, 2009. 
  12. ^ Barbara De Lollis (July 23, 2007). "Holiday Inn chain gives itself a face-lift". USA Today. Retrieved August 3, 2007. 
  13. ^ IHG announces worldwide brand relaunch of Holiday Inn
  14. ^ "Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts". InterContinental Hotels Group. May 12, 2009. Retrieved June 6, 2009. 
  15. ^ Elliot, Stuart (August 22, 1996) The New York Times.
  16. ^ "About Us". 2008. Retrieved June 6, 2009. 

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