David Myers is chief executive of Sleeperz Hotels, which last month secured £7m in funding to build a second hotel in Newcastle as it looks to become a nationwide chain. He spoke to BigHospitality about what customers really want from a hotel.
I joined Sleeperz in June 2007 having overseen the sale of Alias Hotels to Swire Properties in 2006. Alias was great but perhaps lacked the clarity of proposition that I believe Sleeperz has, namely convenience, value and style.
Customers want a great location and stylish experience that is also value for money. The only way to deliver this given the cost of land is with a slightly smaller hotel room than normal. Rooms at our first hotel in Cardiff are therefore 15 sq m compared with the industry average of 22 sq m.
We’re doing something that no one else is with our compact rooms. Despite this we’re very much a hotel, not a hostel, with manned reception, a desk in each room and floor to ceiling windows, as well as a food and beverage offer, unlike some ‘budget’ rivals.
From day one we incorporated multitasking within our team culture. We have housekeepers that help serve breakfast and reception staff that man the bar.
Sleeperz is a value for money brand that has hospitality in its blood. I believe that’s a very powerful vehicle for the 21st century consumer. We’re aiming for 10 sites by 2015 and believe Sleeperz is much more than simply a niche brand.
We have no pools or leisure facilities, despite the fact I played water-polo at international level while at university.
My pet hates include a lack of pricing transparency in hotels. I also hate having to phone down for an ironing board, especially as you’re usually in your boxer-shorts when you do.
I think the hotel industry is on an upward curve to recovery, but it will be a slow trajectory. The first part of next year will be challenging as VAT increases, but I remain optimistic about our prospects.
As a small company securing funding for our second hotel in Newcastle, which will open next year, was very, very challenging. I don’t see this situation getting much better in the next 18 months.
We have an agreement in place with NetworkRail to develop hotels on land they own so our next few sites will all be at travel hubs (Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester), as they represent low-hanging fruit. After that it’s up for grabs.
Operators are simply going to have to swallow the cost of broadband as it’s something customers are increasingly expecting for free. Of course some big chains are set up in such a way that they bring in significant revenue from such services so for them it’s hard to change.