Birth of Mid-Segment Hotels
“A successful person realizes his personal responsibility for self-motivation. He starts with himself because he possesses the key to his own ignition switch” – Kemmons Wilson
The middle is where the money is – this is the general mantra in today’s Hospitality industry where every major player is investing and growing their mid-segment portfolio frantically. Along with the rapid growth of these portfolios, the hotels in this category themselves have rapidly evolved over the years to offer genuine luxury to their patrons. But this wasn’t the case with Kemmons Wilson when his wife Dorothy had convinced him to take a break and drive down to Washington D.C. from Memphis. The motels by the highways were uncomfortable, distasteful, over-priced and generally in terrible shape. The trip, which was supposed to be a break for Wilson, turned out to become the birth of the largest hotel brand in the world!
Wilson, keeping family travel in mind, devised features, that are industry standards today, like a standardized room size (12ft x 26ft with bathroom), swimming pool, free in-room television, telephones, ice machines, restaurant, no charge for children under age 12 who stayed with their parents. This was revolutionary for the time, and when the first Holiday Inn (Holiday Inn Hotel Courts) opened up in Memphis Tennessee in 1952, it was an instant hit! After adopting the Franchisee business model, the growth rate of the hotels was astronomical with two Holiday Inns opening up every week by 1962.
Today, Holiday Inn is one of the most recognizable hotel brands in the world with over 5,000 operational hotels (including the Holiday Inn Express hotels), it truly has shaped the mid-segment hotels into what we know them as today.