by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | June 13, 2018
Atlanta-based InterContinental Hotels Group has launched its newest brand, Voco, a collection of upscale hotels that will focus on conversion opportunities to strengthen IHG's portfolio in the $40 billion upscale segment, which is expected to grow by another $20 billion by 2025, according to the company. The name is inspired by a Latin word for "invite" or "come together."
Voco's rollout will commence in IHG's Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa, and later extend to the Americas and Greater China. The company expects to open more than 200 Voco hotels in urban and leisure locations over the next 10 years. According to a statement, the brand's guest-room standards will include a welcome with a local treat, quality bedding and bathroom amenities, and aerated showers and smart TVs. The properties will feature bars and lounges with offerings for both morning and evening. The conversion process will target properties that are "reliably different, brought to life through a bold, distinctive identity, informal service style and thoughtful touches along the guest journey."
 
IHG signed a conditional agreement last month with Covivio (formerly Foncière des Régions) to rebrand and operate 12 current U.K. hotels and one in the pipeline, a deal that will establish Voco's presence as the properties are converted. The first Voco signed outside of Europe is the 388-room Watermark Hotel & Spa Gold Coast in Surfers Paradise in Australia. The property, which will be reflagged later this year, features more than 8,000 square feet of meeting space, five dining options, two swimming pools and a full-service spa. The hotel is a stop on the city's newly opened G:Link [http://ridetheg.com.au/] light-rail system equipped with surfboard racks, which takes riders directly to several area beaches.
 
"We've talked about the significant growth opportunity we see for IHG in upscale, and Voco will help us deliver against this," said Keith Barr, CEO of IHG in a statement announcing the new brand. "We'll work with owners of attractive properties, who appreciate the power and expertise that a global business can bring to the table. Guests will be able to enjoy the appeal of a more individual hotel, alongside the reassurance of a name above the door that they trust. The versatility of the brand means a Voco hotel can retain and celebrate all of the elements that make that existing hotel successful."
 
Voco will give IHG some serious cachet in the upscale segment, which the company has said is part of its overall expansion strategy. "With Voco, the recent addition of Regent Hotels & Resorts in the luxury space, the launch of Avid Hotels in the Americas and the work we're doing to enhance our existing brand portfolio, we're making great progress with our ambitious plans to accelerate growth," said Barr, who took the helm of IHG in July 2017.