• Bed wars move into the budget segment

InterContinental is opening up a new front on the bed wars via a $53m investment across its portfolio of 1,400 Holiday Inn Express properties.

The move is the latest salvo in a battle to differentiate hotel brands from each other and a clear sign that mid-market and budget brands also have much to play for.

Last year, Holiday Inn Express launched Simply Smart bathrooms with the most notable feature being the showerhead. This was popular enough to sell 6,000 showerheads to guests seeking to replicate the experience at home.

The latest Simply Smart initiative will see the introduction of 200-thread count sheets and four new pillows, offered in a choice of two comfort levels.

Virtually all the major upscale hotel brands have launched their own bed efforts, a trend started by Starwood with its Heavenly Bed introduced in 1999 at its Westin properties.

Since then Marriott has rolled-out its Revive Collection, Radisson has introduced the Sleep Number Bed, Hilton has its Serenity Collection and Hyatt the Hyatt Grand Bed.

As with Express, the hotel brands have sold the new beds and other accessories via an online shop. This has seen $10m worth of business for Westin-branded bedding alone, including 30,000 beds.

A study by HVS International estimated that introducing new beds at a mid-scale 150-room property without f&b (such as Express) over a two-year period would cost around $186,000. This would require room rates to rise by 3.6% over those two years for the investment to be recouped.

Along with rising energy prices and challenging labour issues, amenity creep is yet another cost pressure to take the shine off much improved revpar numbers.

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