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How Word of Mouse has replaced word of mouth

Other posts by  |  Sheelagh Caygill on Google+ |  April 16, 2012 | 0 Comments
Javeed Anwar, Head of Marketing, and Mark Armstrong, Sleeperz General Manager

Javeed Anwar, Head of Marketing, and Mark Armstrong, Sleeperz General Manager

A recent trip into Newcastle took me to the new Sleeperz Hotel. It’s a very impressive place. The overall feel, style and design of the lobby and rooms are a mix of modern and fresh, yet warm. It’s got a touch of Scandanavian, but not a coldness to it. The Scandanavian influence is apparent when you see the use of space and the neat little extras in the room, such as the pull down luggage rack, opened with a tug on a tiny little leather tab.

Sleeperz calls itself budget and I’m not in the hotel accommodation industry, so I won’t disagree. But based on my travel experience Sleeperz is a step above budget. It’s very comfortable and has a sense of style that budget often doesn’t. Sleeperz’s philosophy of creating stylish hotel with modern designs sets it apart from its competitors in the budget hotel sector, as Premier Inn and Travelodge.

But how did they get the look and feel? They hired boutique hotel owner and interior design expert Janine Powell was hired as a design consultant. The newcastle Sleeperz has an impressive glass front, compact rooms with fresh, colourful and contemporary interiors. Hard to believe it was once a run-down derelict warehouse.

The staff are extremely friendly and there to greet and help. Again, my experience with staff at budget accommodation is, for the most part, that they are there to remind you it is budget.

I had a long chat over coffee with Javeed Anwaar, Head of Marketing, about the hotel industry in general, customer expectations, encounters with woeful service in the UK, and how Sleeperz aims to change the latter.

We also talked about marketing and Javeed’s approch to advetising in print vs the internet. It’s clear from what he said that before the internet, a satisfied traveller might write some comments in a hotel’s guest book or tell a friend, but there has been a revolution in the way in which hotels and customers communicate: customers now go online to tell the world what they thought of their hotel stay.

This new trend, explained Javeed, is called “word of mouse” and Sleeperz Hotels, the innovative budget hotel business, is one company experiencing the benefits. “If you are in the hotel or hospitality business and you ignore Word of Mouse then you do so at your peril.”

He said that feedback left on online travel websites and booking engines is proving to be a make or break factor for businesses operating in the hospitality industry. Sleeperz Hotel in Newcastle opened in January and despite the struggling economy, Javeed said that trading has been much stronger that expected in its first three months, and has been lifted by positive customer reviews on three major travel websites and booking engines.

Sleeperz Newcastle is currently:

www.booking.com –The highest ranked hotel in Newcastle
www.laterooms.co.uk -The only 5/5 ranked hotel in Newcastle
www.tripadvisor.com -The No. 1 Budget Hotel in Newcastle

The excellent reviews and rankings on three of the most influential websites in the travel industry are a strong indicator of consumer confidence in Sleeperz Hotels, especially as we are a relatively new brand.

In fact, Sleeperz is so confident about Word of Mouse it carries a link on its website homepage directing visitors to TripAdvisor reviews.

Sleeperz entered the budget hotel sector in November 2008 when it opened its first hotel in the Welsh capital Cardiff. It recorded average occupancy figures of 66% for its first year, well above the city and national averages. Javeed says that Sleeperz Newcastle is on track to do even better

Mark Armstrong, general manager of Sleeperz Newcastle, explained that the hotel has exceeded the occupancy and sales targets set for for the first quarter and has found it is regularly fully booked on weekends.

“A lot of this success has been due to internet bookings and positive reviews but it all comes back to a simple truth, did the customer like the hotel and enjoy their stay.”

The company has plans to expand and Sleeperz is looking at Liverpool, Manchester and London as potential places for hotels in the next phase of its development.  You can find out more at sleeperz.com.

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Category: Visit the North Blog

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