A few weeks ago I had my first experience of the newest budget hotel brand to hit the market, Tune Hotels. Tune Hotels have an interesting story to tell and to launch into an already crowded segment, especially in the UK, they needed to differentiate their product offering. To be perfectly honest, I doubted they would do this. With Premier Inn, Travelodge and easyHotel making up three pretty powerful ‘budget’ hotel brands (and all on different scales of budget) I doubted if adding another brand to the mix would be a success. I was proved wrong.
What Tune are doing is actually quite unique – offering budget accommodation with a focus on quality. Not two words you would traditionally put together.
Quite simply, Tune Hotels have a similar product to easyHotel – but they take the quality of their rooms to another level, with power showers, flat screen HD TV’s and quality decor.
You still have the opportunity to limit the cost of your stay by choosing a room with no window, not paying for TV etc, but you still end up with a comfortable room with the amenities you need. You can also purchase comfort bags, that include some basic essentials like towels and shampoo, cleverly called “getting’ fresh”.
I stayed at the Liverpool Street property which is conveniently located in Folgate Street, central London, close to Shoreditch, Brick Lane and St Paul’s Cathedral. I was refreshingly surprised with the ambiance when I arrived. Too often I’ve arrived at a reception desk of a truly budget hotel to be greeted with an unpleasant smell or cheap looking furnishings and the staff to match. Tune Hotels provided something quite different – a more spacious reception area and attentive staff who were genuinely happy to help and offer advice about the local area.
I recently spoke to Tune Hotels about their brand and am pleased to share part of our short interview.
Q: How did the Tune Hotels brand start and what’s the inspiration behind it?
A: The Tune Hotels brand started in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia in 2007 and since it was first launched over 3 million guests have stayed in one of its properties. There are now 22 hotels available in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and the UK. Tune Hotels are part of the lifestyle business conglomerate, Tune Group, which was founded by Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun. The Tune Group includes Tune Air, Tune Hotels, Tune Money, Tune Talk, Tune Box, Tune Studios, Tune Tones, Caterham F1, ASEAN Basketball League, Queens Park Rangers Football Club and Kualu Lumpur Education City.
Q: Where does Tune Hotels fit in the market, and what makes you stand out from your closest competitors?
A: Tune Hotels sits in the budget hotel sector but has quickly established itself as a great value alternative to some of the more established ‘full service’ budget brands. Tune Hotels have embraced the low cost model similar to airlines which encourages guests to book early to enjoy exceptionally low prices. The ‘pay as you use’ concept for optional extras allows guests the ultimate flexibility to pay only for the facilities that are important to them. Since its UK launch in August 2010, Tune Hotels has won a loyal following and has achieved a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for its consistently high feedback.
Q: What expansion plans do you have for 2012 and beyond?
A: In addition to the Paddington and Kings Cross hotels, we have recently got planning permission for our first hotel outside London in Edinburgh which we are hoping will open in mid December. We are continuing our search for suitable locations in London to reach our target of 10-12 hotels in London by 2017.
Q: How are the London Olympics effecting your London hotels? What trends are you seeing?
A: Westminster and Liverpool Street are almost full for the Olympic period. We’ve only recently opened up sales for the new Paddington and Kings Cross hotels so have plenty of availability at the moment. We expect, with our competitive pricing, that we will fill all our hotels during this period.
In summary, I believe Tune Hotels have a very different offering to others in the market and I can certainly see a successful expansion in the UK market following. Since my stay, Tune have opened a new London hotel and had a fantastic social media campaign, centring around a Facebook challenge, prompting followers to find hidden £9 a night rooms online. Tune are getting everything right: product, pricing and marketing.