|By Suzanne Marta, The Dallas Morning
NewsMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Mar. 12, 2008 --Motel 6 is getting a new look.
The Carrollton-based hotel chain, known for its folksy "We'll leave the light on for you" ad tagline, unveiled a contemporary prototype design Tuesday.
The design dubbed "Phoenix" trades bland, off-white walls and standard-issue carpet for brighter hues, wood floors, flat-screen TVs and a console for plugging in gadgets like MP3 players and laptop computers.
It is the first prototype for Motel 6 in 12 years and "will set a new standard for economy hotels," chief executive Olivier Poirot said.
Mr. Poirot said the design aims to strengthen Motel 6's position in the market by reinforcing its price value for customers and boosting its appeal among franchisees.
Motel 6, part of Accor North America, is expected to generate revenue of nearly $1 billion this year.
Mr. Poirot said the brand leads its segment, attracting occupancy rates that are 10 percent to 15 percent higher than its peers.
Economy hotels have lagged the rest of the industry in the last seven years, growing at less than half the rate of many of their peers, according to PKF Consulting.
On a room revenue basis, the segment is expected to grow 1.2 percent during the next year, compared with 3 percent for hotels overall.
Taking cues from some of the industry's stylish boutique properties, Motel 6's Phoenix design includes a more spacious lobby with a gathering place for guests who'd rather socialize than stay in their rooms.
Furnishings in the rooms will take on a cleaner, contemporary feel, with sleek, modern designs. The bathrooms will feature granite countertops and a walk-in shower.
John Keeling, a senior vice president for PKF in Houston, said the designs launched by boutique hotels during the 1990s have become mainstream, with contemporary decor cropping up in more traditional hotels.
He compared the trend to designers developing retail lines at lower price points.
"Look at what Target has done with fashion design in furniture," Mr. Keeling said.
Developing a prototype presented a challenge for Motel 6, which draws leisure and business customers from a wide range of demographics.
"We need to be as attractive to a 20-year-old as we are to a 60-year-old," Mr. Poirot said.
The first prototype will be built this year in North Texas, although the specific site hasn't been finalized, Mr. Poirot said.
Existing hotels will begin retrofitting their properties with the new features this year.
The new prototype will become available to franchisees in the summer of 2009.
The company hopes the prototype will boost growth for both corporate-owned and franchise locations in its Motel 6 and Studio 6 network, Mr. Poirot said
The company, which has 900 locations in North America, plans to increase that to 1,200 by 2010.
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