In 1985 Travelodge set out to become the UK’s leading value hotel brand. More than 30 years later, it’s the UK’s largest independent hotel brand with 500 hotels and 37,000 guest bedrooms.
In its most recent annual trading statement for 2015 the hotel business delivered some exceptional financial results, including:
- increased year-on-year total revenue by 13%;
- boosted RevPAR by 12%;
- and delivered a 10% increase in average room rate.
Travelodge welcomed a record 18 million customers in 2015 and the brand is attributing this success to a renewed investment in the guest experience.
So what three elements of the hotel stay did the brand focus on to deliver such impressive double-digit growth – and how can your hotel do the same?
- Improved consistency of room facilities
Not only were improvements made to rooms across the Travelodge brand, all rooms were made equal during a modernisation programme. Every room is now the same standard delivering consistency for guests and removing the stress of booking the ‘best’ room for customers. King-sized beds are available in every room, along with 30 minutes of free WiFi, a spacious desk and TV with 17 channels, plus complementary bathroom toiletries and hot beverage making facilities.
By creating the same guest expectations and focusing on consistency, Travelodge has made sure that every guest knows they’re getting the best room available. Think about the facilities you could make consistent across your property. It pays off, and the proof is in the online reviews. As a result of its focus, Travelodge now averages four out of five stars on TripAdvisor.
- Strengthened its direct bookings strategy
Direct bookings account for more than 85% of Travelodge’s sales – and was a key area of focus during 2015. In April the hotel brand launched a mobile app which has been downloaded 180,000 times and has a conversion rate almost twice that of its website. An advertising campaign with the message ‘That’s Travelodgical’ drove awareness of the room modernisation programme, boosting direct online bookings by 12%.
Increasing conversions with a simple guest booking experience is much easier than you think – and not just for big brands like Travelodge. Online booking engines, such as SiteMinder’s TheBookingButton, can deliver a seamless two-step booking process for guests. These booking engines can be branded to suit your hotel’s website and enable you to upsell a more personalised stay for guests. And don’t forget that your direct bookings are commission-free!
- Focused on a new food and beverage offer
Travelodge has paid more attention to its on-site food and beverage offering adding value to its overall proposition. Describing it as “our best ever breakfast”, the hotel brand made changes to staple items on the menu. Some of the improvements include Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages, Yeo Valley organic yoghurts, and Lavazza coffee. Travelodge says that customer feedback has been excellent. Restaurant breakfast sales are up 13% as a result of the changes.
When looking at your food and beverage offer, think about where you can make some quick wins and improvements. Start by speaking to your chefs and ask them what changes they would make in order to improve your hotel’s breakfast menu. Then take your ideas to your food and beverage suppliers who can help you make the right choices for the right price. Overwhelmingly, you should trust your gut (pun definitely intended!) and think about the kind of breakfast you would like to eat as a guest. Value for money is crucial here and a few Google searches for best hotel breakfast will help inspire you.