Premier Inn has hired a brand marketing director and begun the hunt for a new advertising agency, ending its contract with Lucky Generals, as it readies for what bosses earlier in the year warned would be a tough trading environment as Brexit worries linger.
The hotel chain’s owner Whitbread said sales fell 2.1% in the third quarter of 2019 as travel plans continued to be impacted by the “UK’s political and economic environment” which “remains uncertain”, headwinds it expects to persist until 2021.
It has already doubled down focus on the hotels part of the business following the sale of Costa Coffee in June.
However, in preparation for a difficult year on the horizon it has brought in seasoned tourism and leisure marketer Tamara Strauss as brand marketing director.
Strauss was until recently the interim head of marketing for Hilton Hotels. Prior to that she spent five months at easyJet where she helped the airline prepare to launch its Holidays division and nearly three years at Royal Caribbean International where she was marketing director, rolling out its Where Extraordinary Happens campaign.
“Premier Inn is a truly iconic British brand and I couldn’t be more delighted to join them at this exciting stage in their journey,” she said of the appointment.
Much of her focus will be on the brand’s international expansion. Premier Inn’s performance in Germany, where it plans to open 20 hotels in the country over the course of this year, was a bright spot on its earnings update and it has since set the ambition of becoming the country’s biggest budget hotel operator.
As such, it has decided to end its relationship with London ad agency Lucky Generals, which it appointed in 2016, and begun the hunt for a new lead creative partner.
“Lucky Generals has worked with Premier Inn for a number of years now and have done a great job in helping us maintain our position as the UK’s best-loved hotel brand,” said Strauss. “We wish it the very best for the future”.
Premier Inn said it will be approaching a select shortlist of agencies which it believes “mirror its brand values” directly to invite them to partake in the tender process.
The agency selected will also be expected to develop creative around the launch of its Premier Plus rooms and help execute comms around the chain’s partnerships with third parties like including Amazon, luggage-storage network Stasher and online fitness-provider Hussle.
“As the business grows its strengths internationally this is an ideal opportunity to bring a new agency onboard and we are really looking forward to meeting with the agencies we approach directly with this exciting brief,” the marketer added.
Golin remains its retained PR agency and UM its media buying agency.