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Holiday Inn is a brand of hotels within the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG).


The original Holiday Inn chain of hotels was created in 1952 in Memphis, Tennesseemarker, by homebuilder Kemmons Wilson to provide inexpensive family accommodation for travelers within the United Statesmarker. Wilson opened the first Holiday Inn on August 1, 1952 at 4941 Summer Avenue in the Berclairmarker district of Memphismarker on the main road to and from Nashville. Though the actual hotel does not exist anymore, a historical sign marks where it once stood. In 1954, Wilson incorporated the chain with Wallace E. Johnson.

Wilson initially came up with the idea after a family road trip to Washington, D.C.marker, during which he was disappointed by the quality and consistency provided by the roadside motels of that era. The name Holiday Inn was given to the original hotel by his architect Eddie Bluestein as a joke, in reference to the Bing Crosby movie.

In 1957, Wilson franchised the chain as Holiday Inn of America and it grew dramatically, following Wilson's original tenet that the properties should be standardized, clean, predictable, family-friendly and readily accessible to road travellers. By 1958, there were 50 locations across the country, 100 by 1959, 500 by 1964, and the 1000th Holiday Inn opened in San Antonio, Texasmarker, in 1968. The chain dominated the motel market, leveraged its innovative Holidex reservation system, put considerable financial pressure on traditional hotels and set the standard for its competitors, like Ramada Inns, Quality Inn, Howard Johnson's, and Best Western. By June 1972, when Wilson was featured on the cover of Time magazine, there were over 1,400 Holiday Inn hotels worldwide. Innovations like the company's Holidome indoor pools turned many hotels into roadside resorts.

The company later branched into other related enterprises, including Medi-Center nursing homes, Continental Trailways, Delta Queenmarker and various related enterprises. Wilson also later developed the Orange Lake Resort and Country Club near Orlando and a chain called Wilson World Hotels. The family of founder Kemmons Wilson still operates hotels as part of the Kemmons Wilson Companies of Memphis. Wilson retired from Holiday Inn in 1979.

Although still a healthy company, changing business conditions and demographics saw Holiday Inn lose its market dominance in the 1980s. Holiday Inns, Inc. was renamed "Holiday Corporation" in 1985 to reflect the growth of the company’s brands, including Harrah's Entertainment, Embassy Suites Hotels, Crowne Plaza, Homewood Suites by Hilton and Hampton Inn. In 1988, Holiday Corporation was purchased by UKmarker-based Bass PLC (the owners of the Bass beer brand), followed by the remaining domestic Holiday Inn hotels in 1990, when founder Wilson sold his interest, after which the hotel group was known as Holiday Inn Worldwide. The remainder of Holiday Corporation was spun off to shareholders as Promus Companies Incorporated. In 1991, Bass launched Holiday Inn Express, a complementary brand in the limited service segment. In 1994, Bass launched Crowne Plaza, a move into the upscale hotel market. In 1997, Bass created and launched a new hotel brand, Staybridge Suites by Holiday Inn, entering the North American upscale extended stay market. In March 1998, Bass acquired the InterContinental brand, expanding into the luxury hotel market. In 2000, Bass sold its brewing assets (and the rights to the Bass name) and changed its name to Six Continents PLC. InterContinental Hotels Group was created in 2003 after Six Continents split into two daughter companies: Mitchells & Butlers PLC to handle restaurant assets, and IHG to focus on soft drinks and hotels, including the Holiday Inn brand.

The brand name Holiday Inn is now owned by IHG, which in turn licenses the name to franchisees and third parties who operate hotels under management agreements.

In January 2002, The Wall Street Journal reported that the company, led by Ravi Saligram, was producing a new 130-room "Next Generation" prototype hotel to rebuild the brand. It would include a bistro-like restaurant and an indoor pool. The first of these prototype hotels, the Holiday Inn Gwinnett Center, was built in Duluth, Georgia, in 2003.

On 24 October 2007, IHG announced a worldwide relaunch of the Holiday Inn brand. The relaunch is "focused on delivering consistently best in class service and physical quality levels, including a redesigned welcome experience [and] signature bedding and bathroom products..." The first relaunched Holiday Inn is expected to open in the USA in the spring of 2008. The whole relaunch process is planned to be complete by the end of 2010.

In September 2008, IHG announced the creation of a new timeshare brand, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, a strategic alliance with The Family of Orange Lake Resorts.

Great Sign

Great Sign
The "Great Sign" is the traditional, historic roadside sign used by Holiday Inn during their original era of expansion in the 1950s-1970s. It was the brainchild of Kemmons Wilson, who introduced it to the world when he opened his first motel on August 1, 1952. The signs were extremely large and eye-catching, but were expensive to construct and operate. The designers and manufacturers of the sign were members of the Balton family, whose ancestor D.F. Balton founded Balton & Sons in Memphis, TN in 1875. Most of Memphis’ billboards, theater marquees, and street signs during the early 1900’s were the work of Balton & Sons. Members of the Balton family still run Memphis sign companies (Precision Signs [75614] and Frank Balton & Company [75615]. The story goes that the sign’s colors were selected because they were favorites of Kemmons Wilson’s mother. In 1982, following Kemmons Wilson's departure, the Holiday Inn board of directors made the decision to phase out the "Great Sign" in favor of a cheaper and less catchy backlit sign that still maintained the classic script logo. The decision was not without controversy as it essentially signalled the end of the Kemmons Wilson era and removed a ubiquitous and internationally recognizable company icon.

In 2003, in a program of hotel redesign, the company brought back a revamped version of the Great Sign that showed up the company's advertising under the slogan "Relax, it's Holiday Inn." The makeover came with a new prototype hotel that included photography of the sign and a retro-style diner named after founder Kemmons Wilson.

Business relationship with Gulf Oil

In 1963, Holiday Inns signed a long-term deal with Gulf Oil Corporation in which the lodging chain would accept Gulf credit cards to charge food and lodging at all of its hotels (in the United States and Canada). In return, Gulf would build service stations on the premises of many Holiday Inn properties, particularly those along or near major U.S. and Interstate highways. Many older Holiday Inns locations (including some no longer part of the chain) still have the service station properties intact today, either still in operation or closed down. With the exception of a few locations in the eastern U.S., hardly any of the still-open stations are now Gulf outlets. The portion of the agreement which permitted Gulf credit cards to be used for payment of food and lodging at Holiday Inns was copied by competing lodging chains and major oil companies during the mid-to-late 1960s. Most of those agreements fizzled out with the 1973 oil crisis. The Gulf/Holiday Inn arrangement ended around 1982.

Historical trademark conflicts

  • For two decades a hotel called Holiday Inn located in Niagara Falls, Ontariomarker prevented the Holiday Inn Corporation from operating one of its own hotels in that city since the name was already in use. The hotel used a logo similar to the old Holiday Inn logo from the 1970s. The Holiday Inn Corporation directory referred to the hotel as "not part of this Holiday Inn system". The hotel also owned the domain [75616], which forced the much larger corporation to use In 2006, an agreement between IHG and the Niagara Falls, Ontario hotel owners was reached that allowed both the Hotel and to be incorporated into the IHG system.

  • During the 1960s and early 1970s, Holiday Inn hotels located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolinamarker were simply called "Holiday" because a local motel already had the "Holiday Inn" name. The name was contested by Holiday Inns, Inc. v Holiday Inn before the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina (Florencemarker division) in 1973. The South Carolina Holiday Inn had franchised their name to Strand Development Corporation, which filed a counterclaim against Holiday Inns, Inc. The dispute resulted in a concurrent use registration for the Myrtle Beach hotel, which still operates as "Holiday Inn", although it is required to use a distinctly different font.


Image:Holiday Corporation Logo - 1985-1990.jpg|Holiday Corporation logo: 1985-1990File:Holiday Inn Logo.png|Previous Holiday Inn logo used from 1989-2009 (being phased out)File:Holiday Inn Logo.jpg| On 24 October 2007, when IHG unveiled a new logo and global rebranding, with all sites expected to be converted by the end of 2010.


  • Holiday Inn - the most recognizable tier of service. There are two distinct types: high-rise, full-service plaza hotels and low-rise, full-service hotels. The former also included many high-rises with round, central-core construction, instantly recognizable from the 1970s. Both offer a restaurant, pools at most locations, room service, an exercise room, and functional but comfortable rooms.
    • Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites - properties offering all the amenities and services of a regular Holiday Inn but consists of rooms mixed with suites.
    • Holiday Inn Resort - Offering all the amenities and services of a full-service Holiday Inn, resorts are considered a more of an advertising branding than a completely different brand. Most Holiday Inn Resorts are located in high leisure tourism markets.
  • Holiday Inn Select – upper range full-service hotels which cater to business travelers. In 2006, it was announced that Holiday Inn Select hotels will be discontinued. Existing hotels may continue to operate under the Holiday Inn Select flag until their existing license expires, however many are converting to Crowne Plaza or regular Holiday Inn hotels, with no further marketing or advertising based around the "Select" moniker.
  • Holiday Inn Sunspree Resorts – properties in resort areas with full-service amenities and deluxe service. These are typically very large properties.
  • Holiday Inn Garden Court – which exist only in Europe and South Africa and are designed to reflect the national culture.
  • Holiday Inn Express – Smaller versions of Holiday Inn hotels with limited services
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations timeshare brand launched in September 2008. There are currently five Holiday Inn Club Vacations resort properties: Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort, Orlando, FL; Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Lake Geneva Resort, Lake Geneva, WI; Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Ascutney Mountain Resort, Brownsville, VT; Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Bay Point Resort, Panama City, FL; and Holiday Inn Club Vacation at South Beach Resort in Myrtle Beach, SC.


Although originally called "Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza", the Crowne Plaza moniker was split from Holiday Inn in 1994 to form a distinctive brand.

During the 1960s, there were two Holiday Inn Jr. motels; one in Rantoul, Illinoismarker and the other in Missourimarker. Motel rooms were located in portables, although the Rantoul location also had one small section in a traditionally-constructed building.

In 1996, Holiday Inn hired advertising firm Fallon McElligott, dropping Young & Rubicam after a 6 year relationship.


Holiday Inn has a history of standards, part of Wilson's original idea. Not meeting these standards may mean a lost franchise. Many of the older Holiday Inn hotels, especially the two-storey ones with exterior corridors, have been removed from the Holiday Inn system as franchises expired and rebranded . Some old Holidomes have been rebranded as Best Westerns, Days Inns, and Quality Inn. Many Holiday Inn properties are converted to other brands such as Clarion Hotels or Ramada Inn

See also


  1. IHG announces worldwide brand relaunch of Holiday Inn
  2. Holiday Inn Niagara Falls
  3. Holiday Inns, Inc. v. Holiday Inn, 364 F.Supp. 775 (S.C., 1973).
  4. Elliot, Stuart (August 22, 1996) New York Times

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