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Travelodge and BetterUp co-create a best-in-class talent strategy

Industry Hospitality
Industry Hospitality

About Travelodge

Travelodge is the UK’s first budget hotel chain, opening its doors in 1985. Almost 40 years later, it is one of the UK’s largest hotel brands and operates nearly 600 locations across the UK, Ireland, and Spain. Travelodge's mission is to deliver affordable travel for everyone.

Chief People Officer Hannah Thomson and Head of Talent Daniel Curtis knew they needed to reimagine their talent strategy after dramatic shifts in the industry. They partnered with BetterUp® and used IdentifyAI® to select the right leaders at the right moments for coaching. Together, they co-created a new talent development model called Grow Your Career based on BetterUp's validated Whole Person™ Model Assessment to make talent development at Travelodge future-focused and inclusive for all. 

BetterUp Impact: IdentifyAI and Coaching

Estimated cost savings in program deployment alone with IdentifyAI
3 months_Travelodge
Estimated time saved in program deployment with IdentifyAI

Participants who say coaching makes them more effective at work


Coaching sessions spent on career development

"We know our people want to work in a great culture, have managers that coach them to be at their best, be part of a team of teams, and feel that they are continuously developing their capability and credibility. BetterUp helps us align our talent management approach to those needs so employees can flow easily through the company and every single person can grow their careers while they are with us."

— Daniel Curtis, Head of Talent at Travelodge

Rapid change can impact resilience

Brexit, the pandemic, and the macroeconomic climate — Travelodge hasn't had a shortage of challenges in recent years. The pace of change was unprecedented, and the business was constantly adapting its operating model to ensure its customers had the perfect stay. Leaders also had to adapt to hybrid working and technological advances. They were managing dispersed teams in an uncertain climate, which taxed their resilience, cognitive agility, and well-being. 

Travelodge needed to:

  • Increase productivity by retaining a core, stable team trained and motivated to carry out multiple tasks at hotels 
  • Reduce the people cost of running the business by optimizing the effectiveness and compliance of the people and organization design, supported by an evolution to digital 
  • Attract and train talent to operate current and future hotels and formats 
  • Enable more choices for employees to encourage individuality and embrace differences 


IdentifyAI delivers ROI


Once they selected BetterUp as the right partner for leadership development, Thomson, Curtis, and the team used IdentifyAI to assess the leadership team's readiness for coaching. Everyone had the opportunity to participate, and those identified to benefit the most at the time were invited to join the program.

Driving program selection with data delivered a strong ROI on the program launch. 

  • Time savings: IdentifyAI suggested the leaders most ready for coaching, saving the team an estimated 3 months in selecting and engaging program candidates.
  • Cost savings: With the reduction in HR time, the team saved an estimated £50K because they didn't need to hire a program lead.
  • Inclusivity: IdentifyAI prevented unconscious bias from the member selection process, making the program launch inclusive. 
  • Confidence: IdentifyAI's suggestions for program participants based on employee data gave Curtis confidence that the launch would be successful and meet program goals.

"The logistics alone to try and get around everybody to explain it and then decline people would have taken a lot of time and had an HR cost. Instead, we were able to offer it to everyone publicly at a launch event, confident that everyone would be able to take part when it was right for them."

- Daniel Curtis, Head of Talent at Travelodge

It's powerful to say the company wants to invest money in you when it's about being the best version of yourself, notes Curtis. This approach prevented disappointment and allowed those who were curious to observe others' experiences first to consider if it was right for them. The strategy worked, with an increase in the second wave of adoption.

Co-creating a talent strategy

Travelodge was heavily impacted by lockdown rules during Covid-19 and needed to rise to the challenge of returning to a new normal. To maintain engagement, increase retention, and boost productivity, they co-created a new talent assessment approach called Grow Your Career with BetterUp. The model maps data on a grid that centers on physical and emotional well-being and measures employees on the three C's: Credibility, Capability, and Career Drive.

One sign of a successful strategy? When Curtis showed the model to the board and key stakeholders, they said the practical application behind the theory made the method as pragmatic as it was aspirational. The vocabulary from BetterUp's Whole Person Model Assessment created a shared language of mindsets and skills needed to grow a career at Travelodge for the board, their direct reports, and the wider leadership team. 

Curtis attributes the success of the model to the strategic partnership with BetterUp. "It's not Travelodge's strategy. It's our strategy," he says.

"The impact of having a strategic partner is enormous. It's as important as the product for me because it gives me the insight and the confidence to pitch a different way of approaching talent assessment and development, empowered by the knowledge that the thinking is underpinned by globally validated behavioral science."

- Daniel Curtis, Head of Talent at Travelodge


The model brings depth to career conversations by including credibility as a distinct assessment factor, moving it a significant step beyond advising someone to raise their profile to grow their influence. It helps employees identify their beliefs, values, and mindsets — shaping who they want to be and how they show up in their personal and professional lives.

Future-minded leadership

BetterUp is helping to change the way teams work. The cross-functional relationships developed during Covid are thriving now that the team is working in their new normal. Data shows an increase in agility and future planning, and Curtis sees this increase reflected in people's actions. The planning horizon is extending, and people are more collaborative, referring to other people's expertise when needed. 

BetterUp also gave leaders at Travelodge greater confidence to talk about well-being. In a short time, the shared language has enabled people to openly discuss and share tips on things like work-life balance.

A game-changing investment

The partnership with BetterUp has revolutionized how individuals, teams, and the organization are developing. In the face of rapid change and pressure to maintain performance, leaders feel Travelodge is invested in their personal well-being and professional success. 

For Thomson, what sticks with her the most is the change that BetterUp has made in people's lives. "There's a real personal thank you when you ask people what they are getting out of the coaching. They feel invested in personally as well as professionally — that's the best bit for me."


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