Hotel companies are turning to increasingly aggressive tactics to win market share in the face of ever-tougher trading conditions.
Last week, hotel consortium Best Western Hotels responded to Whitbread's plans to mount an aggressive print advertising campaign aimed at mid-market hotel brands.
David Clarke, chief executive of Best Western, said: "Best Western leads the hotel mid-market and provides better value for money than the budget chains operated by the likes of Whitbread. If Lenny Henry (who stars in Premier Inn's television advertising) wants to know what real hotel value and service feels like, we would be very happy to host him at any Best Western."
Paul West, managing director of Ignite marketing, said the direct attack on Whitbread was a classic example of a business wishing to take market share from a competitor using strategic marketing techniques.
"It is targeting a perceived weakness in its competitors' brand and market positioning," he said.
Meanwhile, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) sent a Holiday Inn-branded coach to Travelodge hotels in London and Birmingham to offer guests and staff free breakfast, responding to its rival's price comparison marketing scheme.
Travelodge responded in kind. "If you antagonise IHG enough by highlighting its ridiculously high prices, it spends £50,000 on a PR agency to send around free Holiday Inn Express breakfasts to all of our customers and staff," a spokesman said.
"If we play our cards right we may even get Crowne Plaza branded milk floats, delivering à la carte evening meals."
Stephen Broome, director of hospitality and leisure at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said marketing in the hotel sector was "certainly hotting up".
By Gemma Sharkey
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