Holiday Inn Express(R) Hits the Showers

New SimplySmart(TM) Shower Initiative Reflects Guests Preferences

ATLANTA, March 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Nearly three out of four (73%) U.S. adults are not satisfied with the current state of hotel bathrooms, according to a recent Harris Interactive poll released today. The survey, conducted for Holiday Inn Express, comes on the heels of the Holiday Inn Express brand’s rollout of a $20 million SimplySmart(TM) bathroom upgrade to its 1,300 North American properties and demonstrates that the new SimplySmart shower initiative is in line with consumer demands. The upgrade program has already seen approximately 120,000 showerheads replaced and more than one million new towels added across the Holiday Inn Express system. The rollout of the SimplySmart shower initiative, which is in its final stages, will be completed by the end of April 2005.

The Harris Interactive survey also found that guests’ top complaint is that the water pressure in hotel showers is too low or too high (26 percent). About one in seven (14%) weren’t happy with the quality of the bath linens and 13 percent are looking for more space in the shower.

The concerns expressed by consumers in the Harris Interactive survey about hotel showers are not uncommon and all of those challenges in addition to others were addressed by the Holiday Inn Express brand’s upgraded shower experience. The aptly named SimplySmart shower initiative is centered on a proprietary multi-function showerhead by Kohler(R) which automatically compensates for a variety of water pressure challenges. It also features upgraded 100 percent cotton towels; white, hookless shower curtains with curved rods which add 25 percent more space; cotton loop bath rugs; and a sleek new line of bath amenities, featuring a proprietary cinnamon roll- inspired scent.

“We have significantly upgraded the bathroom amenities that our guests have identified as important, while keeping simplicity and value at the forefront,” said Jenifer Zeigler, senior vice president, brand management, Holiday Inn Express. “Consumers are delighted to discover special bath features that are an upgrade from their traditional hotel experiences. They can count on experiencing the ‘Stay Smart’ proprietary showerhead, upgraded terry products and curved shower rod no matter which Holiday Inn Express property they choose,” Zeigler added.

SimplySmart focuses on one of the hotel industry’s current challenges – mirroring the comforts of home within the lodging experience, no matter the hotel service category. As guests continue to become more discerning and sophisticated about interior design, they want accommodations that respond to their new, elevated tastes. Currently, that includes bathrooms that deliver a clean, simple and more functional experience.

Holiday Inn Express dedicated more than 30,000 hours to identifying and testing SimplySmart elements and making the guest bath experience a more positive one. At the completion of testing all of the upgraded amenities were perceived by guests as significantly better than competitive offerings. The showerhead alone was tested by more than 7,000 guests at 28 hotels across the United States. SimplySmart upgrades include:

* Stay Smart Showerhead by Kohler — Guests rated it as their top choice
based on superior water pressure and spray coverage, flexible spray
settings, an appealing design and durability. The signature item also
rated significantly better than the showerheads of a key competitor,
and a significant percentage of guests in the shower test said their
entire stay was more pleasant because of the new showerhead.
* New terry towels and bath rug — The towels are a significant upgrade
in terms of size, softness and absorbency. The 100 percent cotton
towels are 20 percent larger than the current towels, as well as
thicker and more absorbent. The bath rugs will be 100 percent white
cotton loop.
* New line of amenities — The program combines custom packaging and a
display unit that houses everything, including washcloths, to organize
the counter space. The packaging includes squeezable bottles that
feature flip-top caps that are easy to use. All the products also have
a proprietary scent – fresh baked cinnamon, reminiscent of the brand’s
popular cinnamon roll. The brand team tested more than 100 scents to
get the perfect formula for the bath products.
* Curved shower rod — The new curved shower rod increases showering
space by 25 percent and, combined with weighted magnets, solves the
problem of the clinging shower curtain. The white, waffle-weave curtain
also reflects the current design trends toward a neutral color palette.

Guests’ reactions to the upgrades have been so positive that Holiday Inn Express has responded by making the showerhead and other bathroom elements available for purchase online. In fact, over 500 guests have purchased the Stay Smart showerhead by Kohler just in the 3 months that it’s been available via the brand’s consumer site, www.hiexpress.com . Here, guests can order the new Stay Smart showerhead as well as explore a new interactive SimplySmart website experience where guests can get up to speed on their shower trivia or take a “shower” personality test to determine which of the multiple showerhead settings fits them best.

In conjunction with the national rollout of the SimplySmart shower program, Holiday Inn Express has launched a new generation of its popular Stay Smart(R) television ads that incorporate the shower initiative. A fourth iteration will begin airing in May 2005. The brand will also advertise its new shower program via billboards and truck-side advertising in major markets starting this month.

About Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express is the modern hotel for value-oriented travelers. Fresh, clean and uncomplicated, Holiday Inn Express hotels offer competitive rates for both business and leisure travelers. Guests Stay Smart at Holiday Inn Express hotels where they enjoy a free Express Start(TM) breakfast bar, free high-speed internet access, free local phone calls (US only) and the ability to earn Priority Club Rewards points that can be redeemed for great merchandise, airline miles or free stays in more than 3,300 hotels. There are currently nearly 1,500 Holiday Inn Express locations around the globe. For more information about Holiday Inn Express or to book reservations, call 1-800-HOLIDAY or visit www.hiexpress.com .

Holiday Inn Express is a member of Priority Club Rewards, the largest and most global loyalty program in the hotel industry, boasting more than 23 million members worldwide. Program benefits include Points Transfer, Points Purchase, no blackout dates on Reward Nights, no point expiration and it is the only hotel loyalty program to offer a Personal Shopper service. Enrollment in Priority Club Rewards is free and guests enroll by logging on at www.priorityclub.com , by calling 1-888-211-9874 or inquiring at any InterContinental Hotels Group location worldwide.

About the Survey

Harris Interactive(R) conducted the survey for Holiday Inn Express by telephone between March 3 and 5, 2005 among a nationwide cross section of 1,013 U.S. adults ages 18 and over comprising 508 men and 505 women. Figures for age, sex, race, education, number of adults, number of voice/telephone lines in the household, region and size of place were weighted where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. In theory, with a probability sample of this size, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results for the overall sample have a sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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