Upward March of the Budget Hotels

    150 150 Daniel Fountain
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    Many years ago I used to watch in wonderment as British tourists in France carried their pillows as they went to their rooms at their hotel. Often they were also carrying their kettle and makings for tea too. Nowadays there will be a TCMF in the room, along probably with a choice of pillows, and no longer just a bolster. This improvement in the offering from French budget groups such as Campanile, Ibis and Kyriad mirrors the improvements in the budget offering from other groups – the British Premier Inn and Travelodge, Malaysian company Tune and emerging chains such as Motel One. The rise in standards of the basic offering is a continuation of the constant drift upmarket that so many hotels exhibit.
    Sometime known as ‘facilities creep’ this forms the inexorable move away from a basic hotel offering. Initially coming in new, probably at a cost point that shakes the market and undermines other hotels , a newcomer exhibits some ingenuity, maybe a design innovation to carve out a new area for itself. Rocco Forte and sister Olga Polizzi did this with the original concept of adding rooms to a chain of roadside eateries. Thus the Travelodge chain was born and grew rapidly as stand alone bedrooms adjacent to a Little Chef café.

    Often their hotels were fully booked, offering only a room for the night at a very competitive price. The adjacent café, often a separate building, kept even as a separate business, provided the ancillaries of breakfast, evening meal etc.. Once offering one of the best roadside breakfasts in Britain the Little Chef brand lost its way when bought from Forte by food conglomerate Granada, and as the chain expanded it was inevitable it would have to consider adding its own food operation as the Little Chef/Happy Eater chains disappeared.

    Pub chain Whitbread saw the possibilities this offered and began to compete with their Premier Inn chain, building on to their Beefeater/Brewers Fayre pub restaurant operations, and growing rapidly too. Existing budget hotels found these new competitors both undercutting their prices and often offering, through their adjacent restaurant operations , effectively almost a full meal service. Now Ibis is adding bistro food operations to its hotels, Campanile has invested in developing its food offering and so facilities creep becomes part of the development of the budget brands.Premier have even considered adding room service, whilst Intercontinentals Express provies a list of restuarants from which food can be delivered to the guest
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    Daniel Fountain / 20.01.2014

    Editor, Hotel Designs


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