A new day is dawning at Best Western. At least, that is what executives at the company’s 2016 North American Convention and Global Conference in Phoenix, Ariz., believe as the company celebrates its 70th year.
“It’s a brave new world. It’s mind-boggling, but it should not be scary. We must not be afraid of change—change is a constant in life,” David Kong, president and CEO said to more than 2,000 Best Western team members in attendance. “We must embrace it and use it to our advantage.”
While there were no announcements regarding a new brand or design prototype, change is certainly on the horizon: The company debuted a number of new initiatives to better please owners and consumers.
After discontinuing its old supply platform and service for members several years ago—much to the chagrin of many owners—the company is debuting a new system by BirchStreet that allows owners to shop Best Western’s endorsed vendors, compare prices, establish order guides, and process requests on one system, free to all hotels. Set-up costs are automatically covered by vendor’s endorsement fees.
“It’s the Amazon approach to the hotel industry,” said Ron Pohl, senior vice president, brand management. “In the past, if LG changed the pricing on a TV, we would have to manually go in and change it on our [old platform]. We had a team of seven just for that. This simplifies it. It’s something that benefits all.” The platform will launch spring 2017.
Pohl also expressed excitement over Best Western’s partnership with AT&T to bring DirecTV into guestrooms around North American. Currently, 27 percent of the company’s properties already feature DirecTV. This new partnership will ensure that the remaining 73 percent can offer better programming that fits guests’ ever-heightened in-room entertainment standards.
“And it’s just the beginning. We’ll use the TV as a key way to interact with guests. AT&T and DirecTV have a lot of opportunities for us to be able to do that down the road—we can message to customers in their guestroom and have a concierge built in.” Pohl said he sees this as the future of a personalized hotel experience. Explaining that he sees the future of travel dramatically shifting how frequently guests interact with hotel employees, he says personalized touches through technology are what will make Best Western stand out among the competition.