There is a theory that if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it – and then there are those that think you must constantly innovate to stay ahead of the game.
Travelodge sits in the second school of thought and has, over the past nine months, invested £1 million in redeveloping its website.
The site was not broken and accounts for 87% of the budget chain’s bookings. In addition, since relaunch Travelodge claims bookings have increased further year-on-year and more than 75% of those invited to test the beta version said it was an improvement on the old site.
What Travelodge has done is look at usability, top of the list for any decent website, and halved the number of steps required to find the best rates and book them.
The move is significant for Travelodge because it runs strategic room sales at various times of the year, such as the £19 summer sale just launched.
The budget chain has also looked at some of the technology consumers are most using online and has introduced Google Maps to help guests plan their journey and pinpoint exactly where the hotels are.
In addition, discussions on how to incorporate social media are currently ongoing with a view to developing something for the next release of the site at the end of the year.
The developments aren’t just about staying ahead of the game on the technology front but also about maintaining its presence and keeping bookings coming in at the levels to find an additional 4,000 rooms this year.
Travelodge has also talked to and found out about its customers to discover why they are using its hotels.
Chief operating officer Guy Parsons was surprised to find out how affluent they are – ski, golf and rugby enthusiasts, they shop in Waitrose, are used to travelling and like theatre, opera and the arts.
And, accordingly, Travelodge has added an ‘Explore the UK’ facility to highlight local events, restaurants and bars and a facility to purchase tickets through Keith Prowse.
None of it is rocket science – ask customers what they want and then find a way of giving it to them – so why can’t more websites do it?