We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Dan Fuller, founder of an innovative service for truckers looking for hotels, appropriately named Hotels 4 Truckers ("H4T"). We hope you enjoy learning more about it!
CAD: Tell us about Hotels 4 Truckers. How, when and why did you get started?
H4T: I am a Christian and the vision for Hotels4Truckers came to be through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit on April 20th, 2009. I was working as a full-time, over the road, show truck operator and I heard the Lord speak the name, Hotels4Truckers! I immediately ran to my computer and checked online to see if the domain name was available; which it was, and that was the day Hotels4Truckers was born.
I believe that God chose me to steward this company because my wife and I were actually living out of hotels over 300 nights a year, with a tractor-trailer over the road. Nearly every day for 4 plus years, we experienced the challenges of trying to find hotels that could accommodate our 80-foot long tractor-trailer. At that time, there was no service like Hotels4Truckers, so finding hotels was done the old fashioned way - by trial and error. We sometimes would spend over an hour looking for a hotel for just one evening. There is a story with more on that written about us in Truckers News.
CAD: What’s the problem you’re trying to solve?
H4T: The largest problem was the lack of a service like H4T out there for the professional truck driver. You can spend a lot of valuable time looking for accommodations that can fit a full-size truck and trailer.
CAD: Can you explain how it works and the benefits it offers?
H4T: Our service is two-fold: First, we are a membership based organization that provides discounts to hotels nationwide.
Second, we’re a national online directory of hotels with truck parking. Every single hotel in our system currently has the capacity to handle at least one truck and trailer 75 feet long. Some hotels have truck parking in a gravel lot, some on the street in front of the hotel, and others may have paved, painted truck parking spaces in their parking facilities. We verify every location to the best of our ability, to ensure that the parking is safe and legal.
Our service will save you valuable time, money, diesel, and aggravation.
CAD: Which hotels have you partnered with?
H4T: Currently we have partnerships with Motel 6, Red Roof Inn, Americas Best Value Inn, and the Wyndham Hotel Group. We are currently getting ready to work with Choice Hotels, Best Western, and Carlson. Choice Hotels has popular hotels like Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Econolodge, Quality Inn and more.
We currently offer our members discounts at: Days Inn, Motel 6, Red Roof Inn, Super 8, Americas Best Value Inn, Knights Inn, Travelodge, Baymont Inns & Suites, Howard Johnson, Ramada, Wingate by Wyndham, and Microtel.
CAD: How many members do you have?
H4T: We don’t publicly disclose our membership numbers, however, we have thousands of truckers across the nation using our service between our members and being featured on “My DAT® Trucker Services”. This app has nearly 200,000 truckers to date. We are a featured category on the homepage of the app.
CAD: And how much money do you save them?
H4T: We save our members 10-20 percent off of the standard rates at thousands of hotels nationwide. Most of our discounts are 15-20 percent. For example, Motel 6 is 10 percent off, Americas Best Value Inn and Red Roof Inn are 15 percent off, and Wyndham Hotel Group is 20 percent off.
CAD: Before the launch of Hotels4Truckers, how difficult was it for truckers to find locations that have the capacity to handle large trailers?
H4T: It was very challenging! Personally, I would spend over an hour sometimes looking on Google maps for a location that I felt comfortable with. Other times I would take the word of the front desk agent that the hotel has truck parking, and arrive at the hotel only to find out that the hotel’s definition of truck was a pickup - lol! Sometimes you arrive at the hotel and get jammed up in the parking lot, and it can become a safety issue really fast, trying to get a truck and trailer out of a hotel that doesn’t have the capacity to handle you. You could run over landscaping, hit parked cars, do damage to your unit etc… One of my favorites is when hotels tell you to blindly back out of their facility into 3-4 lanes of 50 MPH traffic!
CAD: How many locations are suitable and which areas do you cover?
H4T: Currently we have thousands of locations in our network, and we expect to double in size over the next year. We only cover the lower 48 states right now. We will expand into Canada when the market dictates so.
CAD: Up to what size trailers can these locations handle?
H4T: Great Question! By our definition, we use 53-foot long trailers and conventional tractors as our standard. We use 75-foot long tractor-trailers as our reference when analyzing a property for proper truck parking. You would be surprised by the number of hotels that we have spoken with that say, “we get trucks and trailers in here all the time.” The only problem with that is that sometimes those units can be as short as 35 feet long.
CAD: Your site is designed to help members and non-members. What’s the advantage of being a member?
H4T: The non-member side is really meant to show you a small taste of what our system looks and feels like. Members are shown all of the hotels within our system as well as getting access to the discounts we’ve negotiated with either the hotel chains/brands, or an individual hotel location.
CAD: You mention on your site that you also want to change the stereotypical image of truckers. Can you explain that?
H4T: As a former full-time driver of 6 years, and presently a very limited part-time driver, I cannot help but get frustrated by the negative stereotypes by our society. The general public is too quick to judge a trucker who may look a certain way, or dress a certain way, all the while not regarding the fact that maybe that driver hasn’t had the chance to get a shower that day because there was no place to park their truck at the overcrowded truck stop. It is not uncommon to go 2 or 3 days without a shower when you are running hard across the country on long hauls. I lived out of a truck for just over a year with my wife, who was my co-team driver. We understand how hard the lifestyle is for the OTR trucker. I think that society also is not aware of the lifestyle that we have to endure in our profession.
I had the opportunity to live both in the truck and in hotels. Living in hotels as an OTR truck driver was far better than in the truck. I was able to get a comfortable and restful night’s sleep, shower in the morning, and grab a quick breakfast before I went back behind the wheel. The little things like that make a world of difference out there on the road.
CAD: What’s the reaction been from people in the hotel industry?
H4T: The reaction from the hotel industry has been a very positive one. When we first started off, many of the hotel chains that we approached were very excited and very willing to help to get this vision rolling. We had no database of hotels, no discounts, and no members! Needless to say, we were starting at the very bottom. We have had some hotel chains tell us that they are not interested in trucker business at all, and we respect that. We highly encourage the trucking industry to bring their business to the hotel chains that we work directly with because they really want your business and have proven it by the help and discounts that they have provided to you.
CAD: What about from truckers?
H4T: ABSOLUTELY AWESOME! We hear from truckers all the time about how much they enjoy the service and that they are so glad to finally see a service like H4T. From the time savings, money savings, fuel and headache savings, we are making an impact on the drivers that we serve. We have built relationships with our members over the phone, and they constantly are spreading the word about us, and we are blown away by their support and loyalty to us.
CAD: How do you hope this will change the trucking industry in the long-term (more truck friendly hotels, etc)?
H4T: We hope that more companies will start sending their drivers to stay in hotels. We will be pushing hotels to expand their parking facilities to accommodate truckers. We really would love to see more drivers living in hotels while OTR. We believe that drivers who stay in hotels are more rested, safer, healthier, and better prepared to handle the daily challenges of being a professional driver.