Whitbread, owner of UK hotel chain Premier Inn, has hailed its decision to dial up its investment in brand marketing as a major factor in bolstering the strength of the hotel brand, while investment in product and experience has helped maintain prices and driven repeat bookings.
In a statement unveiling results for the first half of its financial year, the company says its decision to shift towards a more regular frequency of brand marketing for Premier Inn in its last financial year has paid off, increasing the percentage of customers who would consider booking a Premier Inn – the hotel chain claims a brand awareness score of 93%.
According to YouGov’s BrandIndex, which measures overall brand health, Premier Inn consistently outranked all hotel and leisure brands in the UK across the last 12 months.
Elsewhere, although the business insists it remains committed to its position as a budget hotel, it has reduced the proportion of its rooms sold at £80 or less to 37% of overall bookings, down from more than half (51%) last year. Premier Inn credits this to its recent trading model innovation which allows it to manage pricing strategies across all hotels centrally, giving it greater control to respond to market dynamics.
Despite higher prices, Premier Inn is maintaining its brand loyalty. In the first half, around 86% of its more than five million bookings were repeat customers, it claims.
Whitbread added: “Thanks to many years of investment, the quality of our offer and customer service, Premier Inn is widely recognised as one of the UK’s favourite brands.”
Premier Inn’s UK sales increased by 15% in the first half compared with the same period last year. Compared with 2020, sales are up 55%, it said. The hotel chain is eyeing up expansion and profitability in Germany, where it has seen an 82% uplift in sales on last year, which reflects the increase in the brand’s German estate.
Whitbread’s total revenue grew 17% to £1.57bn, and its adjusted profit before tax grew 44% £391m.
It’s also eyeing up further investment in its network, which it hopes to grow to 125,000 rooms – up from around 84,000 currently.
“The strengths of our operating model and our continued focus on driving cost efficiencies across the business resulted in UK margins exceeding pre-pandemic levels,” said Dominic Paul, CEO. “The Group is in excellent shape, trading well and has significant growth potential, both in the UK and Germany.”