IHG Hotels & Resorts has seen a return of business and group travel, supporting RevPAR (revenue per available room) improvements in many key urban markets, according to Keith Barr, CEO, in a first quarter earnings statement. As occupancy levels rise and due to the strength of the company’s brands, he said, hotels are seeing increased pricing power. In March, hotels in the US achieved leisure rates up by more than 10% over 2019 levels, and rate across the whole of the US was 4% ahead. According to Barr, a focus on strengthening and expanding the brand portfolio continues to drive growth. The company signed 17,000 rooms into its development pipeline in the first quarter, 15% more than in 2021. The pipeline of 278,000 rooms increased 2.4% in the same period. Of the 120 hotels signed, there was a particularly strong performance in the Americas, with a near-doubling of signings from 39 to 73. Luxury and lifestyle brands now account for around 20% of all signings. And following the completion of a quality review in 2021, there were 52 signings across the Holiday Inn brand family and 14 for Crowne Plaza, together up 22% over last year.