Phase of Repositioning
|LAS VEGAS (June 13, 2005) - Ramada President Keith Pierce, addressing
franchisees at their conference here today, announced the launch of Phase
II in a systemwide repositioning that aims to establish the brand as the
"global leader in mid-market lodging."
Phase II focuses primarily on enhancing the brand's bed and bath experience through new standards for mattresses, box springs, pillows and linen thread-count as well as heavier and larger bath towels, a modern shower head and curved shower bar with hookless curtain. Target for implementation is April 2006.
"My mission is to reposition the Ramada brand in the mid market domestically, grow its international hotels and resorts and make it the global leader in mid-market lodging," Pierce said. The repositioning is based on research last year that showed most consumers consider the Ramada brand to be a strong, mid-market option.
The stage for the Ramada repositioning was set last year with the termination from the system of consistently substandard properties and the introduction of a new image and quality, service and amenity standards.
In a concurrent initiative to strengthen the core domestic system, a new 21-person field team dedicated to the Ramada brand was sent into the field to teach owners and managers how to better manage their rates and inventory so as to yield maximum potential revenue.
Phase I of the repositioning was introduced with new logos for Ramada Worldwide and the Ramada and the Ramada Plaza brand tiers.
The "fresh and contemporary" logos are critical to the repositioning because they "more clearly communicate the brand's position as a strong mid-market competitor," Pierce said.
Phase I also included mandates for high-speed Internet access, continental breakfast and upgraded bathroom amenities. It also brought attention to "simple things" including ensuring the hotel staff's professional appearance and providing a daily newspaper.
Considered together, Phase I and Phase II of the repositioning will, "over the course of the next 12 months, elevate Ramada to a product offering that is far more consistent with the desires of the mid-market guest than our current offering," Pierce said.
To ensure Ramada's new logos are presented consistently, Cendant Hotel Group is offering financial assistance to help qualified franchisees pay for signage changes, which are due for replacement by January 2006, he said.
Meanwhile, the Hotel Group is helping to jumpstart Ramada development by creating a $10 million development advance fund to build new properties and attract and convert high-quality hotels - especially in center city, gateway and airport locations - now operating under other brand names or as independents.
"We plan to get more aggressive with new-construction development," said Pierce. To guide the quality and completion of new-construction hotels, the brand has developed a prototype design complemented by architectural drawings and interior design schemes that "redefine and reinvent the Ramada experience," he said.
Pierce told the conference that four new-construction properties recently opened in Clairemont and Airdrie, Alberta; East Moline, Ill.; and Lowell, Ark. Ground was broken on another six projects, and 17 agreements additional have been signed.
As part of its efforts to enhance the franchisee value proposition, the Ramada brand recently implemented a training initiative called Strategic Training for Exceptional Performance, which features an improved version of the brand's general manager orientation and an online assessment for creating a personalized training agenda.
The Ramada team is holding Strategic Training for Exceptional Performance classes throughout the country.
The program, which began earlier this year, covers a wide range of topics, from yield management to providing a quality product and services. Franchisees are asked to complete the online assessment questionnaire prior to enrolling. The results of the questionnaire determine the appropriate course track.
The program also offers professional certification from the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
Working in cooperation with the Educational Institute, the brand will introduce online training programs for franchisees through two resources, CyberCinemaâ and CourseLineâ, which offer hundreds of courses and videos that can be used to create training programs for hotel employees.
CourseLine features hospitality management courses, quizzes, a chat room for students and instructors. CyberCinema, designed for line-level staff, offers more than 100 videos on nine hospitality topics in multiple languages.
Beginning this month, the brand will offer an interactive property management system training course to all franchisees that provides instruction on how to load rates and inventory.
The CyberCinema and CourseLine programs and property management system training course are available to Ramada franchisees at a discounted rate the first year.
Another enhancement designed to be a resource for franchisees is the brand's new Intranet portal, called MyPortal, which "takes the often complex and confusing amount of brand information and places it all in a single, easy-to-use location," said Pierce.
According to Pierce, there are several benefits to My Portal, including a single point of entry for all applications and tools, one password, high-level security, e-mail access with up to five addresses for each property, a "new and improved" spam blocker and eventually the ability to change rates and inventory remotely.
To ensure compliance with updated brand standards, an "electronic, interactive" manual will be available on My Portal. "This platform will allow franchisees to search for a standard via a 'word search' and specific tabs will drill down to provide details on any standard," Pierce said.
2005 Ramada marketing plan
Keri Putera, senior director of marketing, described the "key building blocks" of the 2005 Ramada marketing plan: "increase electronic media efforts, continue with mass marketing presence, develop key travel trade partnerships, provide regional and local marketing resources and leverage the reach of the TripRewards loyalty program."
The Ramada 2005 marketing plan reflects two years of consumer research to better understand changing guest dynamics. That research shows Ramada guests are "active, travel for both business and leisure and love to surf the Internet." The research also shows the Ramada name enjoys an "astounding 93 percent awareness rate," she said.
In addition, the research reveals that the brand's guests are looking for an "affordable lodging experience from a global brand," with a "casually, relaxing atmosphere" where they can meet friends and socialize.
Putera said the brand this year will focus marketing efforts on driving consumers to the brand's consumer Web site, Ramada.com. "Because this channel is so vital to our business, we've embarked on an extensive project to help us grab guests from the first moment of impact and surpass the competition," she said.
Ramada.com is being redesigned to feature "improved, cutting-edge functionality" that will make it easier to book a hotel stay," she said. The brand conducted interviews and focus groups to determine how consumers use the site and "what they like and dislike about the experience."
First and foremost, consumers said they look for updated, relevant, high-quality photos to assess hotels before booking rooms. To address that need, the brand will be embarking on a major initiative to obtain professional photos for its Web site and consumer marketing collateral.
To attract more consumers, the brand has nearly doubled paid-search marketing, listing Ramada hotels on two of the largest search providers, Google and Yahoo! It also increased banner advertising on MapQuest, Weather.com, Tripadvisor.com and Canada.com.
To maintain its relationship with current guests, the brand will deliver "targeted and relevant offers" via e-mail based on their specific travel needs. "Through our newly redesigned e-mail template, we're offering travel packages and personalized content to retain our guests and keep them excited about everything Ramada has to offer," she said.
In addition to the online initiatives, the brand will continue its print advertising campaign in Canada's National Post and USA TODAY, targeting key travel months throughout the year.
In the United States and Canada, the brand is running two 15-second television commercials on key cable networks and a variety of specialty stations throughout the year. According to Putera, one spot focuses on the brand's Guaranteed Best Available Rate program and the other on the benefits of TripRewards membership.
To complement those efforts, the brand has "built a comprehensive targeted travel-trade plan to touch all members of this community, from travel agents to corporate travel managers," said Putera.
The plan centers on print advertising in Travel Agent magazine, Business Travel News and Travelweek throughout the year, "continually reinforcing the Ramada name, our global presence and our solid value proposition," she said. To supplement this campaign, the brand is increasing its exposure at key trade shows throughout the year.
In an effort to "nurture lasting relationships" with travel agents and "constantly keep them engaged," the brand has developed a new program in tandem with Travel Agent magazine. The Ramada Worldwide Specialist Program, which launches in July, will educate travel agents about the brand, its upgraded features and benefits.
Concurrently, the brand has formed a new strategic partnership with Budget Rent A Car. This alliance, a first of its kind for the brand, will allow for "cross-marketing opportunities with Budget guests, who mirror our brand demographics, and will help add incremental dollars to our franchisees' bottom line," she said.
Marketing efforts for the summer center on the TripRewards loyalty program's Stay a Spell promotion, which offers guests a Bewitched movie-themed coupon booklet valued at more than $250. In Columbia Pictures' beguiling romantic comedy, Bewitched, an all-star cast led by Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Shirley MacLaine and Michael Caine cast their spell on the movie version of one of TV's most memorable and beloved shows under the direction of Nora Ephron. The film releases in theaters June 24.
Ramada Worldwide Inc., a subsidiary of Cendant Corporation (NYSE: CD), is a mid-to upper-mid market chain of 982 properties worldwide.
Ramada Worldwide Inc.
a subsidiary of Cendant Corporation
Cendant Corporation, Hotel Group
|Also See:||Ramada Worldwide Providing Signage Incentive Program to Help Offset Franchiseesí Cost of Replacing Property Signs to Conform with the Brandís New Logos / May 2005|
|Ramada Repositioning Includes Termination of Thousands of Substandard Rooms; Improving Overall Product Quality a Priority to Ensure Brandís Competitiveness / November 2004|
|Cendant's Project Restore to Purge Substandard Hotels - 300 Properties Put on Notice; Hotel Group Cutting 15 percent of its Hotel-related Employees / Aug 2002|