The company has recruited former Camelot and Wickes marketer Emma Williams as its first marketing director for two years. The marketing function has been guided by e-commerce director Charlie Herbert during the intervening period.
Williams will focus on conveying key brand messages and developing the ’Sleep Tight’ campaign, first introduced last year to help increase engagement and the “warmth” of the brand.
Herbert says that the appointment is needed as the company has just set bigger growth targets and wants to capitalise on the emergence from the recession. Travelodge has just extended its long-term expansion target by five years and aims to have 1,100 hotels by 2025. It is building 35 properties this year to take its total to 495 hotels.
Herbert says that the company’s own research shows that 36% of its customers in the past couple of years had traded down to the low cost sector and 85% of this number will not trade back up.
“There are a whole new bunch of people who want to stay in the budget sector. Consumers now ’get’ the budget hotel sector and what is in a room. We now have to get them to understand the development we have put into the product and brand in the past five years.”
He points out that Travelodge is no longer a roadside hotel brand and more than 75% of the estate is in cities, with some properties in listed buildings and desirable seaside resorts.
The latest ad in the campaign, developed by Mother, takes the fluffy toy brand ambassadors Mr Sleep and Big Ted out of a hotel setting on to a road trip and will contain “positive” messages. The toys will also interact with a real Travelodge receptionist.
Travelodge, owned by Dubai International Corporation, operates in an extremely competitive market with rival low cost chains including market leader Whitbread’s Premier Inn brand and Intercontinental Hotel Group’s Express by Holiday Inn.