1.1 – Introduction to Marketing
The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) defines marketing as ‘The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating, and satisfying customer requirements profitably'. Whereas the American Marketing Association (AMA) believes that ‘Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communication, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.' (Baines et al., 2017, p06) Marketing plays a key part in today's world as companies and brands are neglecting traditional forms of advertising and increasingly moving towards marketing their products and services online as a larger amount of people will see them, and because the product or service is essentially right in front of them to click and purchase, they are more likely to do so.
1.2 – Introduction to Britannia Hotels
The budget hotel addresses a clearly defined segment of the market. It offers consistent, low risk accommodation on peripheral sites where restaurant facilities are often minimal but accommodation standards are good. Low service levels mean low labour costs, which in turn mean that budget hotels are able to price themselves very competitively and yet remain profitable. (Gilbert, Lockwood, 1990) Britannia Hotels Ltd was founded in 1976 by Alex Langsam, and as of 2018 they now occupy 52 hotels across the UK and market their hotels as a low-cost option in comparison to other hoteliers within the UK, such as the Hilton Group, Marriott Group and the Radisson Group. Britannia Hotels pricing strategy is similar to that of other budget hotel chains such as Premier Inn, Travelodge, Holiday Inn and easyHotel.
2.0 – Current Offerings and Customer Segmentation
2.1 – Britannia Hotels and their Current Demographic
Britannia currently offer over 10,000 bedrooms in 52 hotels across the UK, many within or within reach of a main city centre within the UK, with larger cities having numerous Britannia Hotels. Britannia Hotels also operates six Pontins Holidays Parks too. All of Britannia's rooms are lucratively priced in order to appeal to a wide audience, as an increasing number of consumers are choosing to holiday in the UK as opposed to going abroad. These staycations are what make up a large portion of Britannia Hotels bookings, as they offer numerous hotels by the seaside as well as in cities in order to cater to a wider demographic.
Within recent times, Britannia Hotels have become significantly less popular as their competitors are able to offer better service at similar and sometimes better prices. Also, many of Britannia Hotels rivals take full advantage of social media whereas Britannia Hotels are all but present from the social media scene. A simple google search for Britannia Hotels just brings up their website and numerous articles that include phrases such as “Britannia Hotels judged worst in UK” (Independent, Oct 2017) and “We spent the night at the 'monstrous' Britannia Hotel - here's what we found” (Coventry Telegraph, Mar 2018), whereas when you search for Premier Inn, not only does their website show as the top result, but not far behind it is their twitter account, YouTube channel and Facebook page, all of which are used to interact with potential and returning customers. Within today's society, an online presence is key, as customers and consumers alike are opting to use the internet to buy clothes, order takeout food, purchase groceries and household goods as well as book hotels and holidays, which means that Britannia Hotels are really limiting themselves to a restricted demographic, considering they rarely advertise traditionally never mind online.
3.0 – Britannia Hotels Marketing Mix
3.1 – Overview
The Marketing Mix refers to the Product, Place, Price and Promotion, and to a lesser extent the People, Physical Environment and the Process. With Britannia Hotels, the product is a low cost, no frills hotel room which aims to provide a decent enough experience without paying exorbitant amounts like you would at a more premium hotel, such as a Hilton, the place is in or close to a city centre, or a seaside resort, the price is generally as low as its competitors, its main rival being Premier Inn, and recently Britannia Hotels introduced a loyalty scheme called loyalty pro which managed to bring in £4.2million in between April 2015 to April 2016 (LoyaltyPro, 2016). With Britannia Hotels, their Place and Price aren't necessarily a problem, as the rooms are priced competitively and they are in good locations, however the problems lie within the products themselves and their promotion, or lack thereof.
3.2 – Product
Britannia Hotels offers 52 hotels throughout the nation, many of them that have been repurposed into hotels or bought from other hotel chains in order to increase their portfolio. The photo attached shows the entrance to the Britannia Hotel Leeds, which while quaint does look a little dated and could put people off of stopping. While it could be argued that it shouldn't matter because it's a budget hotel, Premier Inn are also a budget hotel chain but have modern entrances and purpose built hotels. Inside, the room looks clean but again follows the dated theme which not many people will find appealing, especially when viewing it on a screen.
For a similar price to this hotel (which Britannia advertises on its website for as low as £29) per night, you could have a room in a Premier Inn in the centre of Leeds, whereas the Britannia is on the ring road. As you can see from the photos, the Premier Inn is a lot more modern and will cater to a wider variety of customers. Premier Inn also have more locations throughout Leeds however if Britannia Hotels offered a nicer overall product then that would make them significantly more appealing regardless of how many hotels there is in the area.
One point to consider is that Premier Inn have a consistent theme which is carried throughout all of their hotels within the UK, while it may not seem to have much to do with digital marketing, consistency is very important when trying to maintain a brand image, everyone who books at a Premier Inn almost knows what their room will look like because they are consistent, whereas if Britannia hotels creates a marketing campaign and shows only the nicest rooms in the nicest hotels, it will be misleading many customers – which isn't a desired goal when it comes to promoting a product.
As you can see from the data set to the left, excluding the people that didn't stop in accommodation in the last 12 months, the majority of customers decided to use a hotel chain, which is why Britannia could benefit from using digital marketing more because it can be clearly seen that the market isn't fluctuating in size like Bed & Breakfasts are, so don't necessarily have to worry about a shrinking customer base.
On top of offering 52 hotels throughout the nation, Britannia Hotels also run 6 Pontins Holiday Parks, all of which are located on the coast. Pontins are a low-cost subsidiary of Britannia Hotels and offer accommodation in apartments while the centre of the park has entertainment regularly. Their main competitors are other national coastal rivals such as Butlin's and Haven, however both of these have more of a presence throughout the UK, not just because Pontins are essentially absent from digital media but also because they both have more destinations throughout the UK.
3.3 – Promotion
Britannia Hotels occupy some of the most coveted hotelier spots within the UK, however until recently they had no rewards scheme to incentivise customers to return, as many of the returning customers had simply got a better deal through national holidays and that was with coach fare included (as it is assumed that National Holidays and other national travel agents block book medium sized chain hotels as this will bring in more paying customers) which meant that Britannia Hotels didn't have much choice other than to start a rewards scheme, as many other hotel chains have it, the Hilton Group have Hilton Honors and even budget hotel chains like Premier Inn offer a service called ‘My Premier Inn'. In 2011 the fast-expanding independent hotel group was looking for a loyalty scheme capable of growing with them. They had inherited a small manual loyalty scheme with 7,000 members after buying a chain of four hotels but wanted a more robust futureproof system. (Loyalty Pro, 2018) This meant that in 2011, Britannia Hotels teamed up with LoyaltyPro in order to start a grand rewards scheme, meant to bring returning customers back to their array of hotels and entice new customers to try them. According to the Britannia Hotels website, with the Grand Rewards Scheme ‘You can start to collect points when you stay at our hotels or use our conference/banqueting facilities, purchase food, beverages or buy health and beauty treatments. Also, if you book your next stay with us before checking out, you will receive a double-points incentive.' (Britannia Hotels). As mentioned between 2015 and 2016, their Grand Rewards Scheme brought in £4.2million for the business, and the Loyalty Pro website states that number is growing year on year. Britannia's Group IT & Project Manager Karen Pownall said: “At Britannia Hotels we take loyalty seriously because we know it is so important for the business. Today we have over 32,600 customers on our database and we want to make sure we keep them.” (Loyalty Pro, 2018)
4.0 – Theories of Marketing Applied to Britannia Hotels
Despite Britannia Hotels having numerous social media accounts, they are not nearly as active as other budget hotel chains like Premier Inn (A simple look at the amounts of tweets they have sent out and the amount of people that follow them are a key indicator of this) which means that they miss out on being seen on the feeds of twitter users. On top of this, Britannia Hotels do not take advantage of ads at all, whereas Premier Inn have very recently run an advertising campaign on TV called ‘The Bridesmaids Tale', had the same said ads play before YouTube videos and have also promoted adverts so that they appear in many user's social media feeds. However, with that being said, Britannia Hotels do participate in Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and when you search Britannia Hotels, the first result to show up is Brittania's own website, which will be what the consumer is looking for. This is called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and brings up the most organic search result first, in other words, the website that the majority of people will be looking for.
Like many other hoteliers, Britannia Hotels have a website which you can directly book rooms on, and if you search for Britannia Hotels, you will find sponsored ads show up at the top of the page. This is called Pay Per Click (PPC), and between 2016 and 2017, Britannia Hotels hired Accord Marketing. The primary campaign objective was to drive an increase in volume through the site while maintaining an effective cost of sale. Alongside this, we brought the account up to our best practice standard. (Accord Marketing, 2017) However, the only time an ad or a sponsored link shows up for Britannia Hotels is when you actually search for Britannia Hotels. This restricts the amount of footfall they will have on their website because if you search for ‘Hotels near me' you will find many other chain hotels taking full advantage of this and Premier Inns and Travelodge's websites will generally appear first, even if other local, independent hotels are closer, meaning that more people will see a rival chains hotel than would see Britannia's, making that a huge missed potential opportunity.
Britannia Hotels would benefit from taking advantage of social media in order to give themselves a better online presence. In an Investigation of Hoteliers' Attitudes toward the Use of Social Media as a Branding Tool, it was found that 53.8% of hotels used social media as part of a branding strategy (Nassar, M.A., 2012.) which means that Britannia Hotels would clearly benefit from using such an important marketing device in today's society.
5.0 – Digital Marketing Recommendations
5.1 – Definition of Digital Marketing
Digital Marketing is the management and execution of marketing using electronic media (such as the web, e-mail, interactive TV and wireless media) in conjunction with digital data about customers' characteristics and behaviours (Chaffey et.al., 2012). Also, digital marketing can be defined as the promotion of products or brands via one or more forms of electronic media. For example, advertising mediums that might be used as part of the digital marketing strategy of a business could include promotional efforts made via the Internet, social media, mobile phones and electronic billboards, as well as via digital and television and radio channels.
5.2 – Recommendations for Britannia Hotels
One of the best places for Britannia Hotels to start when it comes to digital marketing is sponsored posts. Sponsored recommendation blog posts, a form of online consumer review, are blog articles written by bloggers who receive benefits from sponsoring marketers to review and promote products on their personal blog. (Lu et al., 2014) This could benefit Britannia Hotels because regardless of whether something is sponsored or not there is a clear correlation between products and services being used and consumed when an influencer with a large following has talked about it. On top of this, Britannia Hotels could think about promoted post, when a tweet or a Facebook post by them is being promoted on user's timeline in exchange for money.
This sort of advertising has become a lot more common recently, with both Snapchat and Instagram embracing these sorts of advertisements, both Facebook and Twitter have been long time users of this way of advertising due to it being embedded in a scrolling news feed however they have been optimised for Instagram and snapchat by using short to the point videos. Finally, even though Britannia are using Accord Marketing to increase revenue from PPC searches, it could definitely be said that Britannia Hotels could sponsor themselves more when people search for Hotels on google, because if a customer doesn't know what hotel they are looking to stay in but don't see any mention of Britannia Hotels anywhere then said customer isn't going to know a Britannia Hotel exists at all, or at least not in the area they are searching for, because the more heavily advertised hotel chains will get placed towards the top of results pages. Obviously cost is a major factor into why Britannia Hotels haven't done this, as they are less than 10% of the size of rival budget hotel, Premier Inn (52 Hotels vs. 750 Hotels) however the increased cost in advertising will be sure to pay off with the increase in revenue and hopefully customers.
6.0 - Conclusion
To conclude, it is clear that Britannia Hotels have engaged in digital marketing to some extent, however their efforts are made redundant by rivals like Premier Inn, who advertise more aggressively and more importantly follow through with good service. But with the market not changing in size it is clear that the budget hotel is here to stay which gives Britannia Hotels all the more reason to want to brush up on its digital marketing, as a rewards scheme alone will most likely not be enough to keep up with the arsenal of advertising campaigns competitors have up their sleeves. There is a massive scope for growth for Britannia Hotels but the first and most important step is digital marketing in order to get that brand name in people's mind when looking for a low-cost hotel. There rewards scheme being rolled out was the first of many steps that should be taken into successfully marketing a hotel, however they should also think about promoting their products and services on social media and interacting with the general public to garner interest.
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