How Premier Inn proved the value of service

The hotel chain understood service was important but wanted a model for assessing its effectiveness to justify investment.

Premier Inn has fundamentally changed the way it views and delivers customer service after undertaking a research project that has helped it improve the level of return visits.

Things have also changed from an internal perspective, with the way it targets, motivates, trains and rewards people being overhauled at all levels within the business, meaning the insight team has earned its place at the table for strategic decision making.

Measuring the value of service is complex and can be relatively subjective though, so working with social insights agency Listen + Learn Research, Premier Inn’s insight team looked to answer a number of key questions to help deliver more objective and tangible responses about its service, a project that led it to win the Insight and Market Research award at Marketing Week’s Masters.

Using a combination of quantitative modelling combined with social insights and individual hotel-level predictive modelling to make the insights operational, Premier Inn sought to better measure what it was doing from a service perspective.

First off it analysed two and a half years’ worth of data, including behavioural, socio-demographic, loyalty, post-stay surveys and physical estate attributes such as site detail, prices paid, competitor and macro data to provide a starting point.

Premier Inn discovered that service was in fact a strategic driver, which provided some headline findings and helped it communicate with the wider business. It also enabled the business to run “what if” scenarios that looked at what would happen to satisfaction, return visits and revenues if service was to worsen.

Alongside this, Premier Inn looked at 2,500 TripAdvisor reviews of its hotels and its competitors, which it says helped it to confirm the importance of service and identify the limitations and gaps of its quant analysis, leading to conversations with the relevant teams internally.

Listen + Learn then mapped the service customer journey using 6,000 randomly selected TripAdvisor reviews, which fed into its overall strategy and helped the brand define its “moments of truth” that the business now focuses on.

Premier Inn then developed predictive models to explore the impact service has on guests so it can segment those who rely heavily on service versus other drivers.

The findings were shared with 1,000 hotel managers, who then filtered it down to 30,000 hotel teams. The brand says it has helped to instill a ‘service-first’ culture on the ground right the way up to the boardroom.

All teams are now incentivised by customer service scores, with targets set at individual hotels using the understanding of current levels and potential for growth.

And Premier Inn’s brand team is using the insight to build tailored communications focused on service.

The project was completed in four months with a budget of £45,000.