|Founder||William Becker and Paul Greene|
|Headquarters||Carrollton, Texas, U.S.|
Number of locations
|United States, Canada|
|Owner||The Blackstone Group|
Motel 6 is an American privately-owned hospitality company with a chain of budget motels in the United States and Canada. Motel 6 also operates Studio 6, a chain of extended stay hotels. The hotel brand is owned by The Blackstone Group, which established G6 Hospitality as the management company for Motel 6 and Studio 6.
Motel 6 was founded in Santa Barbara, California, in 1962, by two local building contractors, William Becker and Paul Greene. The partners developed a plan to build motels with rooms at bargain rates. They decided on a $6.00 room rate per night (equivalent to $49 in 2017) that would cover building costs, land leases, and janitorial supplies; hence the company name "Motel 6".
Becker and Greene had specialized in building low-cost housing developments, and they wanted to provide an alternative to other major hotel chains, such as Holiday Inn, whose locations were becoming increasingly upscale in quality and price in the 1960s, after starting out with a budget-oriented concept. Becker and Greene spent two years formulating their business model, and searched for ways to cut costs as much as possible. During the chain's early years, Motel 6 emphasized itself as a "no-frills" lodging chain with rooms featuring coin-operated black-and-white television receivers instead of the free color televisions found in the more expensive motels, along with functional interior decor, to reduce the time it took to clean the rooms. The first location in Santa Barbara had no restaurant on-site, a notable difference from other hotels of the era; most locations to this day have no on-site dining, though there is usually a choice of restaurants nearby.
As the 1960s progressed, the Motel 6 idea became very popular in the lodging industry and other chains began to imitate the concept, as Motel 6 was slowly beginning to take a small share of the market away from the traditional hotels. In 1965 Motel 6 opened its 15th property, and first location outside of California, in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. Realizing the need to move quickly, Becker and Green set out on an ambitious expansion program and had opened its 25th location in Gilroy, California, by 1966. The occupancy rate by then was about 85 percent, well above the industry average, and as a result of their success, Motel 6 became an attractive acquisition target. Becker and Greene sold the chain to an investment group in 1968.
In the early 1970s Motel 6 opened its largest location, Motel 6 Tropicana, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Additionally, the chain moved east and opened a location in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1972. By 1980 Motel 6 had reached 300 locations. It was sold to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in 1985, who moved the chain away from its "no frills" approach and began including amenities such as telephones and color television.
Market share declined throughout the 1980s, in part because of increased competition from other budget hotels. During this time span, it bought out the Sixpence Inn chain in the western U.S., and Envoy Inn (formerly Bargaintel) in the Midwestern United States and Pennsylvania. Regal 8 Motels were acquired in 1991. In 1990, the company was bought by the French-based Accor. In 1993, it opened its first high-rise location -- Motel 6 LAX in Los Angeles, California.
Unlike the majority of hotel chains, Motel 6 directly owns and operates most of its locations. However, in order to expand more rapidly outside of its traditional Western United States base, the chain started franchising in 1994. Accor management also took over motels that had been franchised by other chains. Motel 6 began to renovate all bedrooms, sold under-performing locations, and upgraded door locks and other security measures. Newer properties, as well as acquisitions, have interior corridors. Its competitors include Budget Host, Econo Lodge, and Super 8 Motels. In 1999, Motel 6 launched Studio 6 Extended Stay suites, which feature fully equipped kitchenettes and are designed for longer stays.
In 2000 Motel 6 went international by opening its first location outside the U.S. in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Then, in 2002 Motel 6 celebrated its 40th anniversary at its first location in Santa Barbara, California.
In 2006, Accor and Motel 6 invested more than $6 million in properties to help rebuild New Orleans and Gulfport following Hurricane Katrina. One of the Motel 6 co-founders, William Becker, died of a heart attack at the age of 85 the next year.
In September 2017, immigration attorneys accused Motel 6 desk clerks at two locations in the area of Phoenix, Arizona of notifying U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement when guests checked in with identification from Mexico. The attorneys said that court records showed that federal immigration agents arrested at least 20 people the Motel 6 locations over the course of seven months in 2017. Motel 6 said that the practice was "implemented at the local level without the knowledge of senior management" and every location had been given a directive that they were "prohibited from voluntarily providing daily guest lists to ICE." Additionally, Washington state filed a lawsuit in January 2018 against Motel 6 for giving the names of thousands of motel guests to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.
Motel 6 says its goal is to offer "clean, comfortable rooms at the lowest price of any national chain." It's notable for what services it does and does not charge customers for.
Motel 6 advertises room prices as single occupancy and charges a fee for each additional adult in a room. Most other hotel chains in the United States include double occupancy in the price of the room. There is no charge for children under the age of 17 when staying in the same room as an adult family member.
Nearly all locations are pet-friendly and unlike most national hotel chains, Motel 6 does not charge a pet fee (Studio 6 locations charge $10 per day).
Rooms generally do not include alarm clocks, coffeemakers, or facial tissues. Customers are only provided bar soap in the bathroom and no shampoo, conditioner, or body lotion. Hotel lobbies offer free morning coffee, but no breakfast is provided.
Many Motel 6 locations charge customers for wireless internet access, typically $3 per night for basic access and $5 per night for premium high bandwidth service suitable for streaming. Nearly all other hotel chains in the U.S. provide at least basic internet access for free, although some do charge, or require membership in a rewards program for access to premium services.
Since 1999, Motel 6 also operates Studio 6, a chain of extended stay hotels that offer more amenities than a standard Motel 6 location, while also offering weekly and monthly rates. Studio 6 provides an expanded kitchenette area, including a full-sized refrigerator, coffeemaker, toaster, microwave oven, electric cooktop and a set of dishes/utensils, in all its rooms. Studio 6 allows pets with certain restrictions. Studio 6 hotels are located in 15 U.S. states and Canada. Its competitors include Extended Stay Hotels and Choice Hotels' Suburban Extended Stay Hotels. Some Studio 6 locations have been converted from other brands, such as Homestead Studio Suites.
In March 2008, Motel 6 began a system-wide renovation program called the "Phoenix Project" to update the look and amenities of all bedrooms.
Before the remodel most rooms had colorful road-trip inspired bed covers, carpeted floors, shower curtains, outdated CRT televisions and beige furnishings. Stained carpets and dirty shower curtains were a common complaint on online customer reviews.
The remodel was designed with an eye towards not only modernizing rooms, but keeping room rates low for years to come. Designers accomplished this by making the rooms more energy efficient, easy to clean, and easier to keep clean in the long term (keeping housekeeping and maintenance costs low).
Rooms now feature modern furnishings influenced by European and boutique hotels, including platform beds with pillow top mattresses, bright hues of orange, turquoise or lime green on accent walls and blankets, flat screen televisions, wood-effect flooring made from recycled materials, glass shower doors, and granite countertops for bathroom sinks.
The updated rooms rent for no more than the cost of the chain's older rooms.
Motel 6 plans to have all of its rooms remodeled by the end of 2017.
The remodel earned Motel 6 Travel & Leisure magazine's 2010 design award for Best Large Hotel.
Beginning in 1986, Motel 6 has advertised through radio commercials featuring the voice of writer and National Public Radio commentator Tom Bodett, with the tagline "We'll leave the light on for you". These ads were created by Dallas advertising agency The Richards Group. They feature a tune composed by Tom Faulkner, performed by him on guitar and Milo Deering on fiddle. The first spots were conceived and written by David Fowler. In 1996, the ads won a Clio Award. The campaign itself has won numerous national and international awards, and was selected by Advertising Age magazine as one of the Top 100 Advertising Campaigns of the Twentieth Century.
For its 50th anniversary in 2012, Motel 6 began using the motto, "50 Years, the Light's Still On."