Motel 6 was founded in Santa Barbara, California in 1962. Through a strategy of offering no-frills, clean, and consistent rooms for travelers on-the-go, the company has since grown to become one of North America’s largest providers of budget lodging.
Limited Digital Hospitality
Motel 6 guests are a mobile bunch. Unfortunately, weary travelers, instead of finding refuge in Motel 6’s online search and reservation system, were met with a rigid interface that wasn’t optimized for mobile, required many clicks to reserve a room, and didn’t contextualize the reservation in the local area.
All too often, travelers abandoned their search.
In the hospitality industry, Revenue Management encompasses market analysis and demand forecasting to maximize revenue potential. Motel 6’s Revenue Management software hadn’t evolved since the 1990s. Franchisees and property managers struggled with an interface accessible on platforms as old as Windows ‘98, with no means for remote access. Front desk check-in computers even operated separately from back-room price-adjustment computers.
With chains like Hilton revamping their revenue systems, Motel 6 had to play catch-up—fast.
How can we make booking rooms on the move as effortless as possible?
How can a digital revenue management system help franchisees and hotel managers respond to conditions in real-time to maximize profits?
The Keys to A Quick Room: Proximity and Value
Knowing that Motel 6’s core customer is someone who needs to book a room at the nearest hotel as soon as possible, we constrained our designs first by device (to accommodate the smaller screen of a phone), and second by geographic considerations.
A Fresh Start: Intuitive, Responsive, Universal
Our design and strategy teams weren’t allowed to see Motel 6’s old revenue management system in action. They wanted us, rather, to generate a fresh framework, uninfluenced by the failings of past infrastructure. To react quickly, Motel 6’s pricing and revenue management system had to be:
Fully responsive — Accessible to franchisees and managers on-the-go.
Completely intuitive — Revenue management presents a complex, data-heavy challenge to the hospitality businesses, so had to assume that few Motel 6 franchisees and managers could boast expertise in the art of pricing.
Universal — Revenue managers’ pricing strategies would be reflected across all booking platforms—from motel6.com to Kayak, as well as Motel 6’s international web properties (such as in Mexico), and at the front desk.
“It was great partnering with Code and Theory on finding ways to enhance our entire booking experience; offering travelers a more convenient and faster process to respond to their needs anytime, from any device."
More personalization means less superfluous information presented to the travelers, and less need for manual inputs that cause fatigue and abandonment. It’s why we designed the opening page as a geo-located map situated next to a listing of available hotels and rooms. And why the final checkout page includes features like a 1-click purchase option.
A LIVING, BREATHING CARD SYSTEM
Content cards are modular packages containing images, text, and calls to action that are designed once and used throughout the experience.
A DIGITAL CONCIERGE AT YOUR SERVICE
The card system draws from existing Motel 6 data-sets as well as partners like Google and CitySeeker, providing the user with highly-relevant information. Like a helpful concierge, recommended attractions, events, and experiences are presented to users automatically throughout their search. Someone searching for a Motel 6 near San Diego in mid-June, for example, will be presented with an information card about the upcoming Rockability Weekend, or a traveler searching for lodging in Louisville in late July may see an information card about the upcoming Kentucky State Fair.
OPTIMIZED FOR GLOBAL USE
We converted all designs into Spanish, and made adjustments for the Latin American markets. And while most users in the Mexico also access Motel 6’s reservation engine on mobile, broadband in this territory is too slow to load heavy Google Maps data, making rich geolocation integrations more of a nuisance than a benefit. In addition, as Mexico’s Hotel 6 and Estudio 6 are more geographically dispersed than in the United States, a full landing page with map and geolocation didn’t make sense, and was replaced with a basic list of properties.
FIX THE DATA
Motel 6’s legacy, manual data entry process limited a revenue manager's ability to practice dynamic pricing strategies. The result: money was often left on the table.
In response, we designed the system to factor in variable conditions alongside baseline prices, thereby reflecting permutations associated with booking each room, from type, smoking or non smoking, number of guests, and beds. Our teams had to work with an existing back-end architecture, so instead of manipulating historical data sets, we reconfigured how this data was presented and manipulated on the front-end.
MAKE PRICING infallible
We made it effortless for revenue managers to view the data that influences room prices, and empowered them with tools to create rules that automate pricing decisions against performance and market conditions. For example, the system might ‘change my rate to X when my competitor drops his price to Y.’ Or, it might ‘change my rate for this particular room type to X when my property’s occupancy drops below Y%.’
By simplifying data entry and allowing for automated pricing, we allowed operators to proactively monitor performance.
CLARIFY THE COMPLEX
Information now flows into the new Revenue Administration Platform, which interprets that data and presents it in its simplest form. Aligning intended functionality with our designs meant deep collaboration with Above Property development teams. Not to mention, baking in these complex dependencies demanded the help of logicians, mathematicians, and middleware experts.
A SINGLE, CLEAN INTERFACE…
We moved Motel 6 away from a spreadsheet-based system and carefully designed a seamless user experience to determine the base price and best available rate. Our responsive design, powered by Motel 6’s platform partner, Above Property, allows rates to be pre-programmed by the operator, and applied with a single click.
…THAT CONTROLS THE NETWORK
The central Motel 6 database feeds into property managers’ individual revenue management systems, including in Mexico and Canada. This involves a high level of communication and complex interactions between datasets and automations.
Conversion rates have increased 28% on desktop, and 26% on mobile.
A CLEAN INTERFACE
The new Motel 6 revenue management system will roll out to franchisees in 2016. We will evaluate results as they become available, but expect significant revenue increases as a result of this efficient, intuitive new system.
The revenue increases should come in two forms: