The Accor hotel group rebranded and expanded its Ibis portfolio in 2012 with a £24million televised ‘Big Bang’ campaign, the first the company had done. As a result, Ibis is now the largest hotel brand in Europe. With 1600 properties in over 55 countries, offering competitive rates under three subdivisions – Ibis Standard, Style, and Budget – Ibis has become fierce competition in 2013.
Budget hotels are thriving. Nevertheless, although Travelodge has already branched out into Spain and publicised its intentions to expand further at home (particularly in the Hampshire region), and although Premier Inn is pushing to the sidelines the likes of Holiday Inn and Hilton, it is Accor’s decision to retain as much of its own quality as possible, whilst offering competitive affordability, that seems to be paying off.
First opened in 1954 in Bordeaux, Ibis and its reputation are spreading like wild fire, in no small part to what it offers being superior to the competition: ‘well-being at the best price’. With typical budget brands such as Tube Hotels charging for literally everything on top of the room (including windows), Ibis’s three selections graduate down from Standard’s 24-hour reception and breakfast from 4am to midday, through Style’s retention of the Ibis ‘pizzazz, pep and personality’, to Budget’s use as simply ‘a good night’s sleep’. That said, Ibis has recently had the majority of its beds refitted with new bases, mattresses, pillows and duvets, so that whatever the client’s level of requirement, at the end of the day the quality of sleep is universal.
With analysts foreseeing that ‘the budget chains sector will control 26 per cent of the UK market by 2027’ and ’60 per cent of the market’ in China already doing so, Accor’s move seemingly couldn’t be savvier. It comes at a time when Ikea has announced plans to collaborate with the US Marriott group over the next five years in opening 50 Moxy hotels (with a view to 150) in Europe, its rooms to be charged at between €60 and €80 per night. Indeed, according to Hotels.com Hotel Price Index, 2012 saw the average price of a hotel room fall ‘by 4% to just £100 a night’. Ibis’s average room rate is £97 per night.
Just as foreign investors keep the property market booming in London, so it seems only non-European travellers are the ones willing to pay above average for a room, keeping the top-end hotels in the black. Clients from the Middle East and Far East, in particular, settle for luxury-end prices. However, on the whole, mid- to low- range hotels in the capital have charged 3% less since 2011. Not surprisingly, therefore, Europeans have been most interested in the wide range of budget hotels springing up since the recession.
As a business traveller, a central city location is crucial and, indeed, that is Ibis’s focus. With a total investment from Accor of €150million in the Ibis portfolio, let’s hope their ‘sweet beds’ continue to lend sweet dreams to clients’ nights, and the company’s.