The budget hotel chain recently emerged from a company voluntary arrangement and is now rolling out a £57 million refurbishment programme across its sites. It’s estimated this will be half way completed by the end of the year.
Sales and marketing director Catriona Kempston told Marketing Week that there was no need to work up a cross media campaign until a sizeable proportion of the hotel sites have been overhauled with the new room design and high quality bed.
Kempston says: “We are building a brand from the bottom up – focusing on the website, the hotels, our positioning and building up to TV next year.”
She says that the Mr Sleep teddy bear character, who has featured in campaigns since Spring 2010, has been retired and that there was enough “emotional warmth” for the brand to dispense with the mascot. The strapline “Sleep Tight” has also gone.
However, Kempston says that as the first touchpoint for many guests, the website is in need of an overhaul and there are plans to introduce rich media content including video of rooms. Travelodge is also in talks with Tripadvisor to carry reviews content on its website.
It will also look to widen its sales channels, including pushing mobile transactions via PayPal, and will seek to improve its email programmnes and strategy for abandoned sales baskets.
Kempston adds that new business is now coming more from people trading down rather than the pool of people trying out hotels for the first time. Expectations of the product offering have also changed.
She says: “Research is showing that customers are more demanding. The goalposts are changing. Customers are trading down rather getting into hotels for the first time. They do not want to compromise on what they previously enjoyed – they just want something for less money. That’s why it’s important to us to have a good quality bed.”
She adds that the chain is looking to build up its custom from the business sector and is reviewing its offerings for this market, including if free room Wi-Fi is a possibility. It sees opportunities in locking down more contracts with SMEs and bookings from in-bound tourism.
Kempston is a former Premier Inn and Europcar marketer who took over marketing responsibility following a restructure that saw Travelodge CEO Guy Parsons depart in April last year.