Travelodge admits price alone cannot boost loyalty as it launches premium rooms

Travelodge is pushing its offer to businesses with premium economy rooms, something it says is a first for the UK budget hotel market.

Travelodge’s new premium room.

Travelodge is launching premium economy rooms or ‘SuperRooms’ throughout the UK as it looks to push its services to professionals.

The rooms include more modern ‘residential’ décor in shades of taupe and beige. More seating is available, along with more USB charging points, more choice of lighting, a full length mirror, ironing board and hairdryer. The rooms also include a Lavazza ‘A Modo Mio’ fresh capsule coffee machine for workers on the go.

“Our new ‘SuperRoom’ adds an extra choice for customers who are spending more time working in the room, are staying longer or who just value that little bit more comfort,” says Peter Gowers, Travelodge’s chief executive.

The SuperRooms will be available in five locations from today (15 May) and by autumn there will be 1,000 of the premium rooms, predominantly in central London, followed by Heathrow, Gatwick and then other regional areas.

People are becoming much more savvy with their money now and they want more choice with what they do with it.

Karen Broughton, Travelodge

Travelodge’s sales and marketing director, Karen Broughton ,says the move has come from customer demand, as she likens it to EasyJet’s move into the premium market a few years back.

“Our story is very similar to EasyJet’s story. At the start people were almost embarrassed about travelling with EasyJet or it was frowned upon. But on the back of the credit crunch it became quite cool to see who gets the best deal and it is the same for Travelodge,” Broughton tells Marketing Week.

“People are becoming much more savvy with their money now and they want more choice with what they do with it.”

Broughton believes the new offer means Travelodge will get a trickle down from those staying in five-star hotels as their business customers’ priorities change.

The premium rooms will be advertised through digital, including programmatic and social, as well as being communicated to current customers through direct marketing.

Although the more premium rooms do not have enough scale for a TV ad of their own yet, Broughton says the company’s focus on business through its current Travelogical campaign will coincide with the changes.

READ MORE: Travelodge wants to tap into the ‘Lidl effect’ as it launches its biggest ever campaign

Radio also plays a large part in the company’s marketing strategy, as Broughton says the style of the Travelogical campaign, with its tune, works well on radio. She also highlights how Travelodge’s business audience are traveling a lot, are sat in receptions or are tuning into the radio before work, making it a crucial marketing method.

Success of the premium rooms will be determined through the sales of rooms and customer satisfaction, making sure Travelodge is delivering against what customers expect.

To tie in with the premium rooms, Travelodge is also redesigning its bars and social areas to keep up with customer demands for more workspace and areas. These include comfier chairs, higher tables and more USB ports.

Price alone is not enough to maintain loyalty

Although sales and price are key to Travelodge’s success, Broughton admits that price alone is not enough to maintain customer loyalty.

“You can’t win on price alone, that’s why we’ve invested over £100m in products. Its about logic and the right product for the right price,” she explains.

Broughton believes it is important to adapt the product to what it is the customer wants and for the business to understand its limitations. Travelodge has invested over £1million in training its staff to ensure personalised visits when existing visitors return, or to welcome newcomers. However, it understands its limits when it comes to kitting out its rooms and the services it offers.

“I’d love us to be serving pancakes, but it is about what what works operationally. We work hard with the operation guys to make sure they can cook and deliver the food or service consistently,” she says.

Travelodge’s new bar design includes high tables to work at and more USB ports.

However, one thing that has not been as logical is the company’s choice to put hot chocolate and a KitKat in the rooms. Broughton says no one asked for it but she believes it offers an element of delight, which customers like, and is cheaper than kitting the rooms out with further equipment, which would only mean Travelodge would have to put up its prices.

“It is about being very thoughtful about where you spend your money as a business,” Broughton says.

Taking advantage of Brexit

Travelodge says its audience of value seekers means it is “perfectly positioned” to take advantage of Brexit and that the political changes haven’t changed the company’s strategy.

“If anything all the uncertainty has impacted consumer confidence and made Travelodge more appealing to people that want to be savvy with how they spend their money. We are perfectly positioned to take advantage of that,” Broughton explains.

She says the UK will continue to be the company’s heartland and that expansion is still on the cards, with 250 new hotels set to be introduced in the next eight to 10 years.

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