HB ON THE SCENE: Red Roof Targets New Tech, Bedding

NEW ORLEANS—At the Red Roof brand conference, held here at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, executives laid out the milestones the company has hit, as well as future improvements and innovations. In addition to its new soft brand, The Red Collection, Red Roof is rolling out new tech initiatives and a new bedding package.

“We have real momentum. The growth in the number of Red Roof properties since our last brand conference in 2015 has been really impressive. We’ve added 107 new Red Roof Inn and Red Roof properties,” said Andrew Alexander, president, Red Roof. “There’s another 38 in the pipeline we anticipate will open before the year’s end. For the first time in Red Roof history, we have more than 500 properties, including 50 Plus properties.”

Alexander is optimistic for the future. “There’s every indication that the recovery that began in 2009 will continue for the foreseeable future,” he said. “U.S economic fundamentals are sound. We can expect that personal and corporate tax cuts are coming. That’s good news for both our guests and our franchise owners out there. The current rollback of regulatory restriction is also good news. That means streamlined business regulations for small business owners like our franchise owners.

“Second, we’re in the midst of the longest economic recovery in hospitality history—96 months and counting,” he continued. “We’re also looking for more spending on infrastructure and defense, which means job growth will continue to rise. Unemployment is at a 16-year low, and that’s all good for business.”

One of Red Roof’s major areas of focus has been technology, with a newly redesigned website that launched this past summer. “A strong digital presence is crucial,” Alexander said. “Redroof.com is our virtual front door. It’s the first experience a guest may have with the brand. When they come to our site, we want their experience to be perfect from the very first click.”

Alexander noted that 78% of searches originated on mobile, which is why the new site is mobile-ready. “Our website is now optimized to be accessible from any device, anywhere, anytime,” he said. “It’s also faster. According to Google, we are the fastest hotel in the business—we’re even faster than those big guys, Hilton and Marriott.”

Since its launch in June, mobile conversions are up 170%; the bounce rate is down 30%; and bookings are up 16%.

Chief Information Officer Jeff Linden added, “We’re always looking for ways to use technology to enhance the guest experience. We built the site to meet all future demands. It has the flexibility and the strength to support any new browser without sacrificing speed… It’s just the first step in a long-term plan that we will deliver all of our applications on a single platform accessible on any device.”

Next up for the brand? A new housekeeping app. “Properties told us they need more functionality and connectivity between the front desk and housekeeping staff,” Linden said. “Working with input from our corporate GMs, franchise GMs and owners, we designed a new housekeeping app that will allow inns to designate sections of the hotel and common areas that can be assigned to housekeepers. The front desk can generate their daily task sheets and track room status in real time. The app supports both English and Spanish.”

Red Roof is in the final stages of development and will launch by the end of the year. “And we have more solutions coming,” Linden said. “We’re looking at mobile apps for repair and maintenance, room inspections, rate and report management, and more.”

Alexander added that technology “is the bridge that brings the guest to our hotels. It’s not a replacement for the human touch.”

Red Roof also unveiled its new bedding package. “We know how important bedding is,” Alexander said. “This new bedding is not only beautiful, but it’s also comfortable.” He also noted that it’s easy to clean.

“We chose fresh, clean white linens accented by a splash of color. This is really on trend and it brightens up the room,” Alexander said, noting it “replaces the dated fleece blanket.”

Red Roof properties can choose from two designs; Red Roof Plus properties have a premium bedding package “that is completely white, which reflects the upscale elegance of those rooms,” Alexander said. He added that the bedding package is 20% less expensive than the cost of the current package.

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