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With over 1,200 properties around the world, Holiday Inn is one of the most ubiquitous hotel brands. But is it part of the Hilton empire?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Holiday Inn and Hilton operate as completely separate, competing chains today. While both are popular hotel chains, they belong to different parent companies. However, their histories were intertwined for over four decades.

In this in-depth article, we’ll unravel the relationship between Holiday Inn and Hilton over the years. We’ll look at the founding of Holiday Inn and its rapid expansion in the early days. We’ll cover Hilton’s acquisition of Holiday Inn in the 1960s and operation as a joint company for over a few years.

Then we’ll explain the breakup in 1988 that made the brands independent again. We’ll compare today’s Holiday Inn and Hilton in terms of offerings, locations, and rewards programs. And we’ll look at how they stack up against each other as leading global hotel chains.

The Early Days and Expansion of Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn, although not a part of the Hilton hotel chain, has its own rich history and unique features that have made it a popular choice for travelers around the world. Founded in Memphis in 1952, Holiday Inn has grown from a small motel to a global brand with thousands of locations.

Founded in Memphis in 1952

The story of Holiday Inn begins in Memphis, Tennessee, where it was founded by Kemmons Wilson. Wilson, a successful businessman, was inspired to create a new kind of hotel experience after a disappointing family vacation.

He believed that travelers deserved a comfortable and affordable place to stay, and he set out to make that vision a reality.

Wilson opened the first Holiday Inn in Memphis, and it quickly became a hit with travelers. The motel offered amenities that were unique for the time, such as air conditioning, free parking, and a swimming pool. These features set Holiday Inn apart from other lodging options and contributed to its early success.

Holiday Inn

Innovative Features for the Era

One of the reasons why Holiday Inn stood out in its early days was its innovative features. The motel offered guests air conditioning, a luxury that was not commonly found in other accommodations at the time. Additionally, Holiday Inn provided free parking, which was a convenience that many travelers greatly appreciated.

Another feature that set Holiday Inn apart was its swimming pool. In the 1950s, having a pool at a motel was a novelty, and it quickly became a selling point for Holiday Inn. The pool provided a fun and relaxing activity for guests, especially during the hot summer months.

Rapid Growth Across the USA

After the success of the first Holiday Inn in Memphis, the brand quickly expanded across the United States. By the end of the 1950s, there were over 50 Holiday Inn locations, and by the 1960s, there were over 1,000.

This rapid growth was fueled by the increasing popularity of the brand and the demand for affordable and comfortable accommodations.

As Holiday Inn continued to expand, it introduced new features and amenities to cater to the needs of its guests. The brand became known for its consistent quality and friendly service, which further contributed to its growth and success.

Today, Holiday Inn is a global brand with thousands of locations worldwide. While it may not be a part of the Hilton hotel chain, it has made a name for itself in the hospitality industry with its commitment to providing comfortable and affordable accommodations for travelers.

Hilton Acquires Holiday Inn in the 1960s

During the 1960s, Hilton Hotels made a groundbreaking move by acquiring the Holiday Inn brand. This strategic acquisition allowed Hilton to expand its reach and diversify its offerings in the hospitality industry.

The decision to acquire Holiday Inn proved to be a game-changer for Hilton, leading to significant growth and success in the coming years.

Hilton Buys Company in 1963

In 1963, Hilton Hotels purchased the Holiday Inn chain from its founder, Kemmons Wilson. At the time, Holiday Inn was already a well-established and popular hotel brand, known for its comfortable accommodations and affordable prices.

By acquiring Holiday Inn, Hilton not only gained access to a larger customer base but also secured a prominent position in the mid-range hotel market.

The acquisition of Holiday Inn by Hilton was a strategic move that allowed the company to tap into a new demographic of travelers who sought quality accommodations at reasonable prices. This acquisition marked a significant milestone for both Hilton and Holiday Inn, setting the stage for their future success and growth.

Continues Operating as Distinct Brand

Following the acquisition, Hilton made the decision to operate Holiday Inn as a distinct brand within its portfolio. This approach allowed Hilton to leverage the existing reputation and recognition of Holiday Inn while maintaining its own distinct identity.

By keeping the brands separate, Hilton was able to cater to a wider range of customers and capture a larger share of the market.

Under Hilton’s ownership, Holiday Inn continued to thrive as a standalone brand. It retained its unique features and offerings that had made it popular among travelers. This strategic decision to maintain the brand’s individuality while benefiting from Hilton’s resources and expertise proved to be a winning formula for both Hilton and Holiday Inn.

Both Brands Expand Worldwide

With the support of Hilton’s resources and global reach, both Hilton and Holiday Inn experienced significant expansion on an international scale. The acquisition allowed Hilton to enter new markets and establish a strong presence in regions where Holiday Inn had already established a foothold.

Today, both Hilton and Holiday Inn have become renowned global hotel chains, with a widespread presence across the world. Their expansion has been fueled by a commitment to providing exceptional hospitality experiences and delivering unparalleled customer service.

For more information about Hilton and Holiday Inn, you can visit their respective official websites.

The Breakup: Brands Split in 1988

In 1988, a major shake-up occurred in the hotel industry when two prominent hotel chains, Hilton and Holiday Inn, underwent a split. This breakup had significant implications for both brands and their customers.

Hilton Sells Holiday Inn Division

Prior to the split, Holiday Inn was a division of Hilton Hotels Corporation. However, in 1988, Hilton made the decision to sell the Holiday Inn division to Bass PLC, a British brewing company, which also owned the Bass beer brand at the time. 

Bass PLC later became InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) in 2003, making IHG the current owner of the Holiday Inn brand. This move marked the end of an era for Hilton and the beginning of a new chapter for Holiday Inn.

By selling the Holiday Inn division, Hilton aimed to focus on its core brand and expand its presence in the luxury hotel market. This decision allowed Hilton to channel its resources and efforts into developing and promoting its flagship Hilton brand.

Holiday Inn Becomes Part of InterContinental

Following the sale, Holiday Inn became part of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), a multinational hotel company known for its portfolio of well-known hotel brands.

This acquisition positioned Holiday Inn as a significant player in the global hotel industry and opened up new growth opportunities for the brand.

Under IHG’s management, Holiday Inn underwent a series of renovations and rebranding efforts to enhance its image and improve the guest experience. The brand introduced new design concepts, upgraded amenities, and implemented innovative technology solutions to stay competitive in the ever-evolving hospitality industry.

InterContinental Hotels Group

Two Competing Chains Again

With the split, Hilton and Holiday Inn became two separate and independent hotel chains once again. This meant that they would now compete against each other in the marketplace, vying for customers and striving to differentiate themselves from one another.

While Hilton focused on catering to the luxury segment of the market, Holiday Inn positioned itself as a mid-range hotel brand targeting both business and leisure travelers. Each brand implemented its own marketing strategies, brand positioning, and customer service initiatives to attract their respective target audiences.

Today, both Hilton and Holiday Inn continue to thrive and expand their presence worldwide. With their distinct offerings and unique brand identities, they have successfully carved out their own niches in the competitive hotel industry.

For more information on Hilton and Holiday Inn, you can visit their official websites.

Holiday Inn vs. Hilton Today

Differences in Hotel Tiers and Amenities

Holiday Inn and Hilton are both popular hotel chains, but they belong to different parent companies. Holiday Inn is owned by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), while Hilton is owned by Hilton Worldwide Holdings.

One of the main differences between the two is their hotel tiers and amenities.

Holiday Inn offers a range of hotel tiers to cater to different budgets and preferences. They have Holiday Inn Express, which provides affordable and convenient accommodation for travelers on the go. On the other hand, Hilton offers a more upscale experience with brands like Hilton Garden Inn, DoubleTree by Hilton, and Waldorf Astoria.

When it comes to amenities, both Holiday Inn and Hilton offer comfortable rooms, quality service, and various facilities such as fitness centers, swimming pools, and on-site dining options.

However, Hilton’s higher-end brands often provide more luxurious amenities such as spa services and executive lounges.

Hilton Garden Inn

Key Locations and Markets

Holiday Inn and Hilton have a global presence, but they have different key locations and markets.

Holiday Inn has a strong presence in the United States, with numerous hotels located in popular tourist destinations and major cities. They also have a significant presence in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

On the other hand, Hilton is known for its extensive international presence. They have hotels in various countries around the world, including popular tourist destinations like Paris, London, and Tokyo. Hilton has also expanded into emerging markets such as China and India, catering to the growing demand for luxury accommodations.

It’s worth noting that both hotel chains have properties in a wide range of locations, so travelers can usually find a Holiday Inn or Hilton hotel wherever they go.

Rewards Programs Comparison

Both Holiday Inn and Hilton offer rewards programs that allow guests to earn points and enjoy various benefits during their stays. Holiday Inn has the IHG Rewards Club, while Hilton has the Hilton Honors program. 

The IHG Rewards Club offers a tiered system where members can earn points for their stays and redeem them for free nights, airline miles, or other rewards. Hilton Honors also offers a similar program, allowing members to earn points and enjoy perks like room upgrades and late check-outs.

When comparing the rewards programs, it’s important to consider the hotel tiers and locations. The higher-tier hotels in both chains often offer more generous rewards and benefits, so frequent travelers may find more value in the program that aligns with their preferred hotel brand.

Leading Global Hotel Companies

When it comes to global hotel chains, two names that often come to mind are Hilton and Holiday Inn. Both of these companies have a significant presence in the hospitality industry, but they are not part of the same hotel chain.

Hilton’s Empire of Brands

Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. is a multinational hospitality company that owns and operates a vast portfolio of hotel brands.

Some of the well-known brands under the Hilton umbrella include Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, and DoubleTree by Hilton. With over 6,000 properties across the globe, Hilton is one of the largest and most recognizable hotel companies in the world.

Hilton has built its empire through a combination of acquisitions and organic growth.

The company has a strong presence in both the luxury and mid-scale segments of the market, offering a wide range of options to cater to different travelers’ needs and preferences.

Holiday Inn’s Parent Company Portfolio

Holiday Inn is a brand under the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), a British multinational hospitality company.

IHG has an extensive portfolio of hotel brands, including InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, and Holiday Inn Express, among others.

Holiday Inn, with its numerous locations worldwide, is known for providing comfortable and affordable accommodation options for both leisure and business travelers.

The brand has a reputation for its consistency in delivering quality service and amenities across its properties.

Market Position Worldwide

While both Hilton and Holiday Inn are prominent players in the global hospitality industry, they have distinct market positions.

Hilton, with its luxury and upscale brands, targets high-end travelers and offers premium amenities and services. The company’s reputation for excellence has earned it a loyal customer base and a strong foothold in the luxury hotel segment.

On the other hand, Holiday Inn, with its focus on mid-scale and affordable accommodation, appeals to a broader range of travelers, including families, budget-conscious individuals, and business travelers looking for value for their money.

According to industry reports, Hilton consistently ranks among the top hotel companies globally in terms of revenue, market share, and brand recognition. Holiday Inn, while not part of the Hilton chain, also holds a significant market position and is recognized as one of the leading mid-scale hotel brands.

For more information about Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., you can visit their official website. To learn more about InterContinental Hotels Group and its brands, you can visit its website.


While Holiday Inn and Hilton operated under the same umbrella for over a few years, they have been independent competitors again since 1988.

Today, they continue pushing each other for leadership in the global hotel industry with their own properties, locations, and rewards programs.

Both chains maintain a powerful presence, but their loyal guests know that Holiday Inn and Hilton are distinctly different hospitality experiences.

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