I had the recent misfortune of spending a night at the Red Roof Inn, located in in Hurricane, West Virginia. The property is a dilapidated, unhealthy, don’t waste your money hotel property. Why then did I spend the night at all? My son had the good fortune to make the Region 1 Soccer Championships, and the policy by Region 1 is that each team is required to stay at the assigned hotel, or be subject to a $500 fine. All travel arrangements need to be made through Certified Travel. In doing a little research, I did come upon a recent award won by the Red Roof Inn along with their design agency, “Top Honors at the Interactive Media Awards“. Per the subject line of my post, the emphasis is clearly in the wrong area. This is even more clear by the statement within the blog post (link above) talking about the website award:
“360i approached the redesign project with Red Roof Inn’s long-term strategic goals top of mind. In order to more fully understand the brand vision – and the persona of their customer base – we worked closely with the internal Red Roof Inn staff and utilized market research to ensure an optimal customer experience on the new site.”
I will say that the website is pretty nice. I will take the word of the agency, regarding the “increased engagement”, though I am not really sure what that means. There are no humans there, so it must mean more time spent on the site. They also point to “higher conversion rates across the brand’s search marketing campaigns” (reservations I am assuming). I wonder what will happen as more web savvy travelers do stay at the properties and see what they are really like. Be careful what you wish for, a web savvy person (like me) will take the “brand” to task if Expectations are not met, which they most certainly were not.
This post is NOT the opinion of just one Person
Even before entering the property, the group (16 soccer players and families) was concerned. The rating for the property were not very good, but we were stuck (Certified Travel??). The quality of the hotel was “verified” by Certified Travel, as the tournament brings in $12M to the local economy during a 5 day period, so they try to raise the bar for this week at least, oops, a failure there too:
- Non-smoking rooms were rank with smoke – “We have a lot of construction workers, we do our best” front desk clerk.
- Mold and cigarette burns in the bathrooms
- The beds, well, not even going to go there….
- Cars on jacks, for days on end (members of the team could not move from the location I went back for 2-3 days)
- Drunks wandering the property, literally staggering around.
These are athletes, who chose to sleep in the car (some parents did as well). So, the question remains, did 360i meet their goal or the strategic goal of their client, or that of the brand: “a more efficient and engaging digital destination for web-savvy and cost-conscious travelers”? Probably, the digital destination was ok, too bad the real life one was not. The question is what is Red Roof Inn going to do about this? I say nothing, they do not really care, that is my experience with the brand, in real life. If you are going to go up-market with the brand, you better make sure it is ready for it, no?
For me, the brand of Red Roof Inn is tied to this agency. Did anyone from the agency actually stay at a Red Roof Inn (what about the team?) Survey’s and statistics are great, but first person is better. As for Certified Travel, I will be talking to them as well, as I love this line from their website: “Our leveraged negotiating position means lower group hotel rates ” – the rate we paid, was more than the locally advertised rate. Oops…