Over the past twelve months I’ve been watching with interest how budget hotel chain Tune Hotels have been expanding. Originally when I learnt about this brand I wondered how it would fit into such a competitive budget hotel environment in the UK. Launched as a Malaysian brand, I saw the ethos of the brand developed very strongly in its homeland, but did wonder what the reaction would be when properties started popping up here.
Back in March I sampled the brand for the first time, completely out of interest, and was incredible impressed with what I found. Six months on, Tune Hotels have opened more UK properties and their reputation and brand is really spreading. So last week I decided to re-visit the chain and went to stay at their newest London offering in the heart of Paddington.
I found this a very welcoming property with extremely knowledgable and efficient staff (something I’ve not experienced at similar grades of hotel or ‘budget’ brands) and I was given a very genuine and warm welcome. Booked into a had a standard double room, I decided to check out the public areas, which to be honest, didn’t take long. For those who’ve not discovered this brand yet, the idea behind Tune Hotels is to offer a no frills services, so as you can imagine public areas are fairly small and without extensive facilities. However, this property had a snack bar located in the lobby, along with a comfortable seating area and public computers for guests to use. Being a new opening, everything was very clean, tidy and well maintained.
The room itself is where I think Tune Hotels have captured the market perfectly. For a budget hotel, the rooms are actually very generous in size and finished to a high standard. They have concentrated on the key elements that make up a good quality hotel bedroom. A very comfy bed with fresh crisp linen, good shower, contemporary decoration and finish along with high quality television and Wi-Fi (at a supplement). If you get these basics right, customers will like your offering. For the average rate, the rooms at this property are fantastic value.
I’m also very impressed with the hotels TripAdvisor ranking. Given it’s not been open a year yet, they have steadily climbed up the city ranking to number 99 from over 1000 listed hotels. This is very impressive and the reviews really summarise what I found – great service, great quality at a great price. If you do take a look, you’ll also see that the hotel are very responsive on Twitter, thanking guests for comments and responding professionally to any negative comments. I’m sure the high quality of service is a huge factor in why this brand is becoming so popular so quickly. Just because your hotel chain operates in a budget and no frills environment, it doesn’t mean to say service levels should not be taken seriously. If anything, this is the one area you have the chance to add extra value to your guests stay.
A lesser known brand message behind Tune Hotels really goes hand in hand with what you see at each property. The General Manager of the Paddington hotel I visited explained to me that the hotels aim to run as environmentally friendly as possible. Of course, as with many modern hotels, initiatives such as solar panels generating power to heat water, help to achieve this. But a key reason Tune Hotels offer this no frills service is to reduce waste – they don’t generate rubbish from left over food and half used toiletries left behind in bathrooms. It’s optional to have towels, shampoo and the like where guests are asked to pay a supplement, meaning less waste and in my view, giving the consumer the choice in exactly how they want to stay. This doesn’t restrict a guests choices – it adds a level of flexibility in their hotel booking.
So going back to the title of this post, why do I claim that Tune have captured a new budget market? Well, maybe I’m a bit early in this claim, as the public need to have the time to experience and understand the brand, but here’s my thinking. When you look at pricing and room options, I would say that Tune Hotels is directly comparable to chains like easyHotel and some small guesthouse accommodation you find in large cities. Except, this is not what you experience at Tune Hotels. With Tune Hotels, you get choice, quality and value for money. When I book one of their hotels, I know what to expect. I know that I am actually going to want to spend time in my room, not want to get checked out as soon as possible and regret the day I was too budget conscious. This is where Tune Hotels have found an untapped part of the market. Their service and room quality coupled with incredibly competitive prices means they are in a great positive to expand and dominate the budget sector.