Heinz Stroble, chief operating officer
A year after the Atlanta-based InterContinental Hotels
Group was spun off from Six Continents, the company finds
itself invested heavily in its European portfolio. M&C
recently spoke with Heinz Strobl, chief operating officer, Western
and Southern Europe, InterContinental Hotels Group, on several new
M&C: How is IHG performing in Europe?
Strobl: I have been in this business for
40 years, and the last three years have been the toughest. And not
just because of Sept. 11. Forty percent of our business in key
European cities comes from America and 20 percent from the Far
East, so events like SARS and the war in Iraq make it difficult.
But in the last six to seven months we have seen business coming
M&C: What are you doing to attract North
American meetings and incentives business?
Strobl: We have been very proactive in
repositioning our properties. When meeting planners told us they
wanted to bring groups to Europe but couldn’t afford it, we decided
to do something no other chain has done. Now through Feb. 28, 2005,
we will match the euro to the U.S. dollar for every group of 10
rooms or more. Whatever the final bill is when you check out, it
will be quoted in U.S. dollars, no matter what the exchange rate is
at the time. It’s really that simple.
M&C: Any expansion plans?
Strobl: We see a great opportunity to
launch the Crowne Plaza Resorts brand in Europe, where many of the
older resorts are not regularly upgraded. Crowne Plazas will be
luxurious, with a full spa facility and two or three restaurants at
least one of them a name brand. In the next five years, we hope to
have 15-20 properties with 250-300 rooms each. The first ones will
be in Spain, along the southern coast.