The new strategy has been created to help differentiate Travelodge from competitors in the sector and to move its marketing focus beyond pure price.
At the core of the “Sleep Tight” campaign will be a collection of cuddly toy animals going under the name “Mr Sleep and the Z Squad”. The team is shown doing whatever is necessary to ensure a good night’s sleep and the first advertisement airs on 1 May.
It introduces the five characters and establishes their individual personalities. These personalities will be explored with further advertising and exclusive online content, for instance Mr Sleep is to have his own Facebook page. Other characters are to be introduced.
Travelodge is also looking at developing the intellectual property potential of the animals. They have all been given regional accents so the company can leverage the characters in different areas.
E-commerce director Charlie Herbert, who oversees all marketing for Travelodge, says that the key challenge for marketers is how their brand needs to react to customer changes in behaviour as the economy comes out of recession.
Herbert says that customers are now demanding not only good value but the feeling they have had a “great experience.”
The TV campaign, created by Mother, is designed to change the perception of a Travelodge for people who have never used the value hotel sector from the impression of a “hard, functional brand.” Rapier and Carat also worked on the campaign.
The budget sector was worth an estimated £1.11 b in 2009, according to Mintel, and benefitted from customers trading down in the recession. Rival chain Premier Inn, owned by Whitbread, uses Lenny Henry as its brand ambassador.
Travelodge has launched a refurbishment programme that will see 1,000 rooms overhauled this year. Herbert describes the company as “a retailer of sleep” and part of the plan sees the chain putting in 81,000 new pillows in response to customer comment and tackling the issue noise from other guests.
All of Travelodge’s 5,500 employees have undergone a ‘Sleep Tight’ customer training programme and to complement the new focus on sleep, Travelodge has also revamped its breakfast and evening meal menus.
A new take-away breakfast is available in over 280 of its hotels and the ‘all you can eat’ buffet style English breakfast is being served in its 107 hotels that feature a bar café.