Business Travel iQ
Travelodge has announced that its owners, investment bank Goldman Sachs and hedge funds GoldenTree Asset Management and Avenue Capital, have appointed Deutsche Bank advisers for a possible sale or stock market flotation for the UK budget hotel chain.
Peter Gowers, Travelodge chief executive, has not surprisingly reportedly described the owners as "not natural long-term owners" of a hotel chain.
True. But is Travelodge natural accommodation for business travellers?
On Radio 4's Today programme this (20 July) morning, Gowers pointed to the role that the increase in business travellers has undoubtedly played in Travelodge's impressive financial turn round. He said that since 2008 business travellers had ceased arriving at hotels in limousines and that companies were conscious of finding good value rooms for its travellers, a trend which had helped Travelodge's fortunes.
But as a quick look at a few comments on the news stories indicates there is a gap between what makes a good value room and what comprises a good value room when you are travelling on business.
One cited the fact that very few of the properties had an integrated restaurant — not great if you're a business traveller. Others cited the fact that parking and WiFi are not included in the room rate and incur extra charges.
To Travelodge's credit, we hear that they have abandoned their original policy and will now negotiate corporate rates with large business users so in these cases these 'extras' might be included in corporate rates or at the least be charged at a lower price. Nonetheless, what is considered essential and included in the room rate and what attracts extra charges reveals what the chain considers the culture of its visitor base.
So...cost is important but what is a basic minimum for a business traveller can be different than that for a leisure traveller.
What will be the new owners' idea of what makes a business hotel product?