Whitbread's hotel brand, which plans to have 75,000 bedrooms by 2018, beat Hilton by just one point to become the hotel brand at the top of the minds of business travellers responding to BDRC Continental's 2013 British Hotel Guest Survey Quarterly Update.
Global hotel group Hilton, which operates hotels in the UK under its flagship brand as well as Hampton and Doubletree brands, has clung on to the top spot since 1996 when it took over from Forte.
The survey, which questioned 500 business travellers and 500 leisure travellers on 10 brand-related areas in May, also found that the Premier Inn brand was continuing to have a big impact on leisure travellers. The brand has been top of mind among leisure travellers since 2012, but strengthened its lead in this survey to more than six points over the brand in second place, which was Travelodge.
When it comes to the hotel brands travellers actually use most frequently, rather than recall, the budget hotel brands Premier Inn and Travelodge had the highest uptake across both sectors, which BRDC said was a first since it started its survey.
Tim Sander, head of hotel brand monitoring services at BDRC Continental, said: "While it has taken some time for the sheer distribution of the leading budget hotel brands to be reflected in consumer perceptions, now that Premier Inn and Travelodge are at the top of the pole they will take some shifting and the course of the market appears set for some time to come."