LESS THAN A week after launching two new conversion brands, Best Western Hotels & Resorts Inc. on Oct. 2 announced changes ahead for its legacy brand.
During its annual convention, the membership-based hotel ownership organization unveiled new prototypes for its core brand segmented into three tiers – Best Western, Best Western Plus and Best Western Premier.
Ron Pohl, senior vice president and chief operations officer at the Phoenix, Arizona, company revealed the prototype designs before nearly 2,500 audience members at a general session during the 2018 Best Western North American Convention and Global Conference in Dallas, Texas.
In 2011, it launched its descriptor program, separating its namesake brand into sectors through design and amenities. The strategy gave the then-64-year-old company new momentum.
“Best Western and Best Western Plus remain our primary growth engines,” Pohl said.
The Best Western pipeline totals 56 while the Plus tier has 107 hotels in various stages of planning.
The new prototypes – which can be used in new construction or renovation – will roll out by the end of this year. The modern design packages “ensure our brands remain attractive, competitive and relevant to both customers and developers,” Pohl said.
Over the past five years, Best Western Hotels & Resorts has introduced eight more brands. Today, it flies 13 different flags on properties that range from economy through upscale. It has 4,200 properties around the world with a global pipeline of 565. Its North American pipeline totals 326 or 30,000 rooms, with current members comprising 25 percent of the pipeline.
“Travelers have diverse needs depending on their tastes, preferences and travel occasions,” David Kong, president and CEO of Best Western Hotels & Resorts, said during the general session. “We must have a diverse portfolio of products with different price points in different markets to hold on to our existing guests and expand our customer base.”
Best Western is a limited-service midscale brand. Its revamped prototype has “simplified” the standard FF&E. The scheme reduces the hotel’s size to make the hotel more cost-efficient to build.
Best Western Plus is a select-service upper-midscale brand. The prototype is designed to bring “affordable elegance” to modern travelers. The public space will be a “social oasis” and guest rooms will be “cozy,” said the company.
Best Western Premier is an upscale full-service brand. F&B includes casual dining and a grab-and-go option. The dining areas and other public spaces will feature communal seating and collective indoor and outdoor spaces. Guest beds and linens will be upgraded. Rooms will be spacious with a spa-like bathroom.
In 2015, the year the company announced the Design Excellence program for existing Best Western hotels, it also launched lifestyle brands Vīb and GLō. They are new-build brands in the upper midscale and midscale segments, respectively.
The first Vīb opened this year in Springfield, Missouri, and there are 16 in the pipeline.
On Oct. 1, the first GLō opened in Desoto, Texas. Five more GLōs are on track to open this year, and there are 32 in the pipeline.
In 2016, Best Western launched SureStay Hotels by Best Western, a franchise business for new and existing hotels in the economy and midscale sectors. Today, there are more than 250 SureStay hotels in the U.S. and Canada. Pohl said the conversion pipeline will heat up in 2019 as the company gets more aggressive in growing the brand.
On Sept. 25, Best Western announced the rollout of Sadie Hotel and Aiden Hotel, brands designed to capture new business through repositioning existing assets into upscale and upper-midscale offerings with hip design that attracts younger travelers and encourages engagement on social media platforms.
Another major development facing Best Western Hotels & Resorts and its members is a pending proposal to transition of the company from a non-profit membership-based organization into a for-profit franchiser. Company officials did not speak about the initiative during the open session except to say ballots will soon be sent to 1,700 voting members in North America.