Premier Inn web booking widens appeal of Whitbread

Whitbread, the leisure group that includes Costa Coffee shops, Premier Inn hotels, and the Beefeater restaurants, has said it is focussing on improving its online hotel booking services as the hotel chain struggles.

Premier Inn is the largest division of Whitbread in number of sales and saw a 10 per cent drop in profits in the first half of 2009 and a drop in like-for-like sales. The budget hotel chain has picked up increased business traveller custom as all companies rein in costs, but has seen overall business decline.

"We have widened our online booking distribution channels, bringing in new revenue streams and introducing new leisure customers to the brand," Whitbread said in its first half results.

Long standing Whitbread CIO Ben Wishart has been focussing on improving productivity and processes across the group including self service check in kiosks and increasing web services.

Group sales for Whitbread increased by three per cent in the first six months of 2009, in part due to a 67 per cent increase in operating profit at Costa Coffee stores.

Whitbread is looking to take £25 million of costs out of the organisation by nest year.