IHG Hotels & Resorts has been working on its rapid expansion plans for voco. The upscale brand places a keen focus on environmental sustainability, which will strengthen IHG’s eco-credentials and meet a traveller demand which is constantly growing in importance.

Expansion has been swift

IHG’s premium voco brand reached the milestone of 50 signed and open hotels in more than 20 countries across the globe in March 2021 – indicating IHG’s fastest ever global expansion. Since March, expansion has not slowed down. In July 2021 alone, IHG has announced plans to open a voco hotel in Chicago, Gyeonggi-do province (South Korea), Durrës (Albania) and Dubai.

According to GlobalData, the upscale hotel market is expected to regain some of the ground it lost in 2020, with room occupancy rates trending upwards noticeably in the US, South Korea and the UAE, which are countries that voco will soon be expanding to – or strengthening its presence in. In the UAE for example, GlobalData forecasts that the occupancy rate for upscale hotels will increase from 63% in 2020 to 75.3% in 2021. This is promising for IHG and voco as its expansion strategy seems to be on a global scale.

Focus on environmental sustainability will boost appeal

IHG’s Internal Green Engage Sustainability System, which holds a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) pre-certification, underpins the initiatives created by the group’s brands. The system acts as an online environmental sustainability tool with four levels of certification that allows converted hotels to measure and manage their impact on the environment. From hotel to hotel, environmental initiatives can vary which gives each voco property its own distinct personality and appeal.

At the voco Gold Coast, and in many other voco properties, each duvet is made from 150 plastic bottles. Its bed linen has also been approved by the ‘100% Better Cotton’ initiative, contributing to the sustainable harvesting of cotton. At the voco The Hague, the hotel’s garden terrace was designed by an expert ecologist who created a welcoming space for nature to thrive. This consistent theme of sustainability in voco properties will meet the growing need for responsible options from travellers, which should help voco to increase its market share as travel recovers. According to GlobalData*, in the current situation, 42% of global respondents are either ‘often’ or ‘always’ influenced by how environmentally friendly/responsible a product/service is.

Making voco a potential leader in the theme of sustainability will also boost IHG’s eco-credentials. According to GlobalData’s lodging thematic scorecard, IHG scores a four in the theme of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). Competitors such as Hilton and Accor score a five (maximum score), illustrating that these two companies have a competitive edge over IHG in terms of sustainability. The rapid expansion of voco could soon create a level playing field for IHG, allowing for an even stronger recovery in the immediate years after the pandemic.

* GlobalData’s Q1 2021 Consumer Survey