Sara Turner speaks to Astra Goode, general manager of the new Birmingham Central Bull Ring Travelodge, about her 10-year career with the budget hotel chain.
Birmingham Central Bull Ring Travelodge opened in May this year. How has it been doing?
It was a good opening. There was lot of press around it as we did a shoot for the best outfit or dress that could be made out of a bedsheet, to draw on the fashion heritage of the Bull Ring shopping centre. We have good occupancy at the moment and we have taken business from other hotels in the area.
You've been with Travelodge for 10 years. How did you start out with the company?
I started as a night duty receptionist at Hartlebury Travelodge, which was a small 32-bed hotel south of Kidderminster. I became a manager within six months of that role, and then every couple of years I moved on. I was a dual site manager, so running two hotels, in Shrewsbury. I then got promoted to Birmingham Central Broad Street, which at that time was the biggest hotel in Birmingham, followed by a head office role for central operations department where I was project implementer - looking at ways of implementing projects and how we communicated that out to the business. I then came back into operations and in 2009 I opened Birmingham Newhall Street which was a 100-bed hotel. Then I got pulled back into head office to oversee the conversion of 49 Mitchells and Butler Inn Keeper Lodges into Travelodges. And then this year I've opened the Bull Ring, which is again the biggest Travelodge hotel in Birmingham.
Can you tell us a bit more about the conversion of the Inn Keeper Lodges into Travelodge-branded hotels...
I came into it once the background work had been done, so I was involved in planning how we were going to move staff over to us, and how we were going make sure we didn't affect the customers' in the transition. We put a pack together for the managers detailing exactly what would happen when. On certain days they would get certain deliveries and we would put certain rooms off at a time while they got decorated. It was all about the planning side of it.
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