IBIS – Hotel Report Ibis, the popular economy hotel chain, opened its first hotel in 1974, in the French town of Bordeaux. Since then, the company has expanded globally, reaching 40 countries worldwide, opening over 800 hotels. The majority of chains have been established in France, while the UK hosts over 50 chains, with further four hotel openings expected in December 2009. Recently, the chain has introduced a strategy to “promote the chain’s drive for ‘greater and greener customer comfort’”. (Mintel 2009) The Company
The chain is owned by the French firm ‘Accor’, a global corporation operating in the travel and tourism industry. Accor leads a number of brands, with Ibis falling under its ‘Accor Hospitality’ sector. As a two star hotel, Ibis is part of Accor’s ‘economy brands’, sharing the stage with 2-3 star ‘All Seasons’. Ibis hotels provide simple accommodation features, described on their website as being, “inviting, modern, spacious and cosy, with a comfortable bed and a functional bathroom. ” (Ibis 2009) As well as this, some of their hotels now offer internet connection, and even climate control.
Recently, in January 2009, Ibis announced they were rolling out two new products: “a new bed designed by Simmons Company, and toiletries from Ecolabel. ” (Mintel 2009). Ibis are the 5th largest UK ‘budget hotel’ chain, with the number of hotels and rooms they provide expanding by 0. 5% for 2008-09 statistics. Comparatively, the 3rd largest chain, ‘Holiday Inn’ enjoyed a 9. 5% increase. However, the top two chains, Premier Inn and Travelodge dominate the market, with around 68% of the entire market between them. Ibis is only one of 5 UK companies with 50 hotel chains, and they continue to increase this amount. Mintel 2009) Customers Ibis target market is mainly travellers, evidence being the 24 hour reception service that they provide, and the international travelling suggestion on their website: “Always on the move? Ibis hotels welcome you all over the world” (Ibis 2009). As well as this, they cater for early risers, offering hot breakfasts from 4am. Although Ibis target short-term occupants, and people ‘pit stopping’ at their hotels, they don’t alienate other customers, and recognise their ‘in-a-hurry’ bias: “We don’t forget customers who are in less of a hurry” (Ibis 2009).
Their market position also suggests that Ibis caters for those with a “mid-budget” (Mintel 2009), and those looking for extra services such as internet connection and food catering. Secondary research shows us that Ibis has a fairly respectable reputation in the UK, serving as a low profile hotel chain. A study found that over 60% of customers thought their experience was either excellent or good, with around 6-8% finding their experience either poor or unsatisfactory (Mintel 2009). Moreover, further research shows that Ibis shares a similar correlation to the ‘average’ budget hotel, scoring slightly under-par with regards to friendliness.
The hotel suffers from a lack of stand-out feature, as the ‘Mintel Budget Hotels – UK – August 2009’ report points out, “Ibis … has no particular brand identity of its own” (Mintel 2009). Another interesting consumer attitude is the general opinion towards Ibis’s environmental stance. A July 2009 survey discovered that only a small percentage (around 5%) thought Ibis cares for the environment, however, as previously mentioned, Ibis launched a new initiative in January 2009, driving towards “greater and greener customer comfort” (Mintel 2009), on top of this, Ibis’s impressive website dedicates a large area to its environment pursuits.
This area, entirely designed using ‘flash’, allows the user browse specific actions and challenges the company claims to strive for. Not only this, a new feature on the website is an Ibis ‘green press kit’. The comprehensive 15 page document claims Ibis to be “the first international economy hotel chain to obtain ISO 14001 certification” and “75% of ibis hotels will be ISO 14001 certified by the end of 2010” (ibisenvironment. com Press Kit 2009). This leads to the assumption Ibis doesn’t manage to make consumers aware of their environment ideals, or haven’t been able to in the 6 months since launch.
However, all those questioned in the Mintel report had heard of the chain, or had experienced it. After conducting a very brief piece of primary research, only half of the 20 people I asked had even heard of the chain. This raises the point that the sheer dominance of the larger ‘budget hotels’ were disadvantaging the smaller chains, with a high level of brand awareness. Not only this, Ibis’s minimal promotional budget seems to have had an impact on brand awareness. Product/Brand Interrogation The classic budget hotel, “offer(s) inexpensive ‘no frills’ accommodation with limited food and beverage provisions.
This concept brings the hotel closer to the core benefit ‘shelter’ and eliminates the peripheral services provided in luxury hotels” (WARC 1990) By looking the Ibis website, it seems that they intend to break the stigma of budget hotels by introducing a range of additional services. Their tagline “hotels the way you like them” suggests that Ibis’s brand emphasis is far more personal that the average budget hotel. Price isn’t mentioned in the inter-changing banner; instead it focuses on the customer’s experience. “Hot breakfast” “it’s up to you” and “snuggle up” are among the terms adorned on the home page.
As well as this, top links on the side bar offer “24-hour reception” and “24/7 Hot Snacks & Drinks”. But by what is by far the most compelling claim is Ibis’s offer of being “satisfied or your room’s on us. ” This reversal of common budget hotel vice is an interesting approach, and against what the average budget hotel customer bases their decision on, price usually being forefront. Ibis have attempted to differentiate from their competitors by offering quality and price. They offer a larger spectrum of features; however impose themselves as a budget hotel.
Although, as previously stated, their claims and benefits have not been filtered down into the awareness and recognition of the majority of public. Past Campaigns Appendix 1 shows an outdoor advert, which attempts to clearly point out the features included at the local hotel. The advertisement provides a map of the local chain, and a simple tick-box display pointing out the key benefits the particular chain provides. The advert is adorned in the company colours of yellow and red. The advert is extremely functional, it is a well-laid out advert which uses a tick box feature to provide the details of its advantages.
This technique of using tick boxes is a good way to suggest what customers should expect from a budget hotel, and in many respects, contributes the audiences decision making process by ticking off the criteria they may consider. It uses the concept of getting more ‘bang-for-your-buck’ by listing an array of features that the audience may not have even considered, but will see it as a benefit of booking with Ibis. The main focus point of the advert is the map, which displays directions to the closest Bristol chain. This adds a personal touch to the advertisement which adds to the idea of a person actually ticking the boxes themselves.
Its location allows travellers to witness the closest budget hotel, with an attractive price displayed along-side it, it’s an appealing proposition for those uncertain about the area, yet need a place to stay. The strap-line is literally displayed visually, and attempts to sway opinion from the usual suspicions of budget hotels. I believe it to be a pretty comprehensive advert that is entirely information based. A criticism of this approach is that it can seem quite bland, uninteresting and doesn’t provoke much thought or Appendix 1 [pic]