A marketing battle between mid-range hotels in the UK has broken as operators fight to lure the leisure customer pound.
The Advertising Standards Authority Travelodge last month found that Travelodge had misled the public by comparing its £39-a-night rooms to the £65 offer of Express by Holiday Inn, saying it failed to mention that its rival’s price included breakfast.
InterContinental Hotels Group, which owns the Holiday Inn brands, has also entered the fray, sending coaches to Travelodge hotels in London and Birmingham offering customers and staff free breakfasts as a PR stunt.
Premier Inn meanwhile has launched an ad campaign attacking its rival. One billboard ad reads: “Looks like it’s time to take a holiday from Holiday Inn” and another “So what exactly is best about Best Western?”.
Last week when it unveiled a summer campaign offering rooms for £29 a night, discounted from the usual price of £59.
Chris Rogers, Whitbread’s financial director, told the Financial Times that the summer deal applied to only about 2 percent of Premier Inn’s total number of beds and was a limited offer. But he accepted that to some extent Premier Inn’s prices were for the first time now comparable to those of Travelodge.
“This [offer] isn’t specifically aimed against Travelodge. Whether you look at Express by Holiday Inn, Jury’s Inn or Hilton, there is a sharpening of pencils going on and we feel we should be playing our part in that market,” said Mr Rogers.
Only three months ago, Whitbread told analysts that it was sound position to weather the downturn and ruled out price discounting.
According to analysts, the new campaign reflects the scale of Premier Inn’s concerns about the competition in mid-priced and budget hotels, and the acceptance that any hope of a sustained recovery in the UK hotel industry is fading.