Best Western announced a major brand refresh and a new suburban boutique brand at its annual convention this week in Honolulu, Hawaii. To signal this identity shift, the company will change its name from Best Western International to Best Western Hotels & Resorts, as well as introduce a new, more contemporary master brand logo for the first time in 22 years. The Best Western, Best Western Plus, and Best Western Premier brands will also get new logos.
“We are no longer that dowdy old woman or your grandfather’s Oldsmobile,” President and CEO David Kong told attendees during the general session. “We are a fresh and vibrant brand. We’ve earned the right to have new logos, logos that represent us for who we are today and who we aspire to be tomorrow.”
Best Western also unveiled GLō, a broad-midscale new construction brand that promises a boutique-style experience at an affordable price point. With the addition of GLō, Best Western will tout seven brands with more than 4,100 hotels in 100-plus countries.
The 69-year-old company has grown significantly from its early roadside motel days. In 2011, the company split its portfolio into three brands—Best Western, Best Western Plus, and Best Western Premier—to clarify and better set guest expectations. Then, in 2014, the company added an urban boutique brand, Vīb, and a soft brand, BW Premier Collection, to its expanding portfolio, and formalized plans to debut its new extended-stay brand, Best Western Plus Executive Residency.
“Members have asked over the years if we’re moving too fast or making too many changes,” said Board Chairman Jayesh Patel. “I say, look around you. Our industry is changing even faster. We must move quickly. We have to implement new programs. It’s not an option, it’s a necessity. We have to reposition our brands.”
To elevate the quality of its family of hotels, Best Western has shed more than 1,200 underperforming assets in North America over the last 10 years. Meanwhile, North American hotel members will have invested approximately $2 billion in property improvements and renovations by the end of 2016.
Adoption of the brand’s new logos are expected to be official in mid-November upon approval by Best Western hotel owners in North America. All properties worldwide will be coordinating signage and logo implementation, with a critical mass being completed for the launch of Best Western’s advertising campaign in early summer 2016.
When Best Western launched Vīb, it opened the doors to developers and travelers who previously didn’t consider the company, Kong explained. There are currently seven Vīb hotels in the pipeline and active discussions in a dozen locations. To leverage this success, Best Western saw an opportunity to add another boutique-style brand that could be developed in locations that aren’t a fit for Vīb. While Vīb competes in the upper midscale segment and is dependent on foot traffic in urban locations, GLō is intended for suburban-type locations, such as secondary markets with high population density.
Designed as a four-story, 70-room new construction hotel, GLō is forecast to cost $65,000 per key (excluding land) and generate an average daily rate of approximately $90 in the United States. To appeal to developers, the brand has been engineered to be cost effective to build. For instance, the floor plan is designed so that the adjacent guestroom baths are center-loaded, saving about 40 to 50 square feet in construction costs.
LED elements, such as a glowing blue scarf on the building and a “lite brite” wall that extends inside behind the glowing welcome desk, serve as a beacon to guests. Design features in the 250-square-foot guestrooms will include tablet armchairs, a gel-top mattress, a dual-purpose barn door, under the bed storage, and generous shelf space.
More Change to Come
In North America, Best Western has 214 hotels in the pipeline, including 123 Plus hotels and 20 Premier hotels, with nearly 70 percent new construction. Despite this strong growth, Best Western’s presence in primary markets, such as downtown and airport locations, isn’t as robust as it could be, said Ron Pohl, SVP of brand management and member services. “We’re at a clear disadvantage in cities like Chicago, New York City, Dallas, compared to the competition,” he told members.
In an effort to gain a stronger foothold and boost brand awareness, the company has proposed shrinking its area of protection in major urban markets, based on population density. As it stands now, no hotel under any Best Western brands can be developed within a 10-mile radius of one another. Members will vote on the proposed change in November.
A redesigned digital platform, including bestwestern.com, the mobile website, and mobile applications, is also on the horizon. In August, new property websites were created for more than 2,000 properties across North America. A week ago, Best Western launched its new mobile booking experience, including a mobile website and mobile apps. In early spring 2016, Best Western will unveil its entirely new website.