When Atlanta-based InterContinental Hotel Group announced last June it would invest $200 million in its Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts brand in the Americas region over the next three years, including a new marketing campaign, as part of its Crowne Plaza Accelerate Program, The Hotel Insider’s immediate reaction was: About time!
This is, after all, a solid business traveler brand. Since the first Crowne Plaza touched down in Rockville, Md., in 1983, its ranks have grown to 408 properties worldwide and counting, with another 90 in the development pipeline. However, with IHG's more glamorous InterContinental and Hotel Indigo brands stealing media attention, Crowne Plaza has suffered from middle-child syndrome, flying largely unnoticed under the consumer radar.
Not anymore. Last month, the brand launched “We're All Business, Mostly,” its largest consumer marketing campaign in the last decade. It is, says IHG, part of the company's strategy to reaffirm its commitment to making hospitality more fulfilling for the modern business traveler. So what exactly does that mean? The Hotel Insider spoke with Tam'ra Powell, director of brand marketing for Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, who has been spearheading the program on what travelers can expect in the months ahead, beyond the tweaking of the brand’s logo.
"We know that in the business sector, we have strong awareness, but we want to ensure we are more top of mind that we are today," said Powell. "Our plan is to increase that awareness through a multiyear investment in marketing." Some of the key areas being addressed are innovation, food-and-beverage offerings, employee service training and brand awareness. For example, a new F&B pilot program currently is underway at the Crowne Plaza Atlanta, where bar and restaurant menus have been curated to reflect local influences to make them more appealing to business travelers beyond the nine-to-five workday.
Also in the works is a new employee-designed uniform that is now being brand-tested at the Crowne Plaza Seattle. "We know from research that we have only seconds to make a good impression, so having the right uniform is a huge plus for our associates,” said Powell. “It will give them confidence in their ability to deliver on our excellence standards." Powell noted that the brand had asked its associates from different operational departments for their input on design, material and wearability. "Once we have given it the final tweek, it will be rolled out across the portfolio this summer," she said.
Likewise, expect to see some fresh new touches to the brand's overall aesthetics. On the design table are lobby spaces, guest rooms and meeting spaces. For example, new lobbies will feature “huddle” spaces that will function as mini work areas with built-in support technology that allows guests to select and order food from their workspace to be delivered or picked up to go, if they prefer.
"The line between work and life is blurred, and our guests need a hotel that can give them that blend to toggle between those two worlds," said Powell. "Our new campaign captures the duality of our place in the industry as an upscale business hotel, but we also want to give a nod and wink to the downtime they will have in our hotels."