Industry NewsBWH Hotels Presents New ESG Program and WorldHotels Brand Story

BWH Hotels Presents New ESG Program and WorldHotels Brand Story

BWH Hotels’ Annual Convention was held Sept. 19-21 at the Hawaii Convention Center and Hilton Hawaiian Village. Speaking at the opening general session, President of International Operations Ron Pohl identified the “three primary strategies” he had put in place for 2023: (1) transforming as a global brand, (2) retaining and growing the company’s brands around the world, and (3) building a strong environmental, social, and governance (ESG) program.

Dovetailing with the first strategy, Pohl’s team created a new brand story this year for WorldHotels, a soft-brand collection of luxury, independent hotels and resorts spanning more than 175 destinations around the world. Called “Welcome to Our World,” the new narrative emphasizes the brand’s 50-plus-year history and the craftsmanship and fine amenities of its properties (“A World of Care”), adventure travel and expanding horizons (“A World of Your Own”), and business travel (“A World of Connections”).

In line with the company’s new ESG strategy, the fourth pillar of the WorldHotels brand story is global citizenship, renewable energy, and other aspects of sustainability (“A World of Good”). Pohl explained that the company’s overarching ESG program, entitled “Because We Care,” is built on “Earth, People, and Community or EPC. Although we launched our EPC global initiative this year, it is not something new to Best Western. Quite honestly, it has been at the heart of our organization since 1946, member helping member, caring about each other, and supporting our local communities.” Pohl began by assembling a global ESG committee this year. “We wanted a diverse group to lead our efforts and a commitment that is engrained in our culture,” he said. “It requires commitment by all departments, not just the responsibility of one department.”

Toward the environmental component of ESG, BWH Hotels has partnered with the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance—which is leading the hotel industry to be Net Positive by 2050—as well as Green Key Global, “an organization that will assist you at the property level to implement processes, benchmark, and respond to RFP requirements,” Pohl informed attendees. “Michael Morton [vice president, brand management] led this effort.”

Pohl also cited six practices that protect both the environment and franchisees’ bottom line: housekeeping service upon request, low-flow showerheads/toilets, property-wide LED lighting, indigenous landscapes using less water, bulk bath amenities, and recycling programs and the elimination of single-use plastics. “Over 50 percent of North American hotels already have implemented these [practices], and our goal is to reach 100 percent globally,” he said. “Also, consider installing an EV charging station. We currently have over 600 hotels in North America with them. Charging stations attract customers.”

The brand itself is also supporting the environment via a new partnership with One Tree Planted. “With your donations, we will plant between 10-30 trees around the world on your behalf, and BWH will plant 100 trees on behalf of every newly activated hotel,” he noted.

Regarding the social aspect of ESG, Pohl said, “We will continue to create opportunities, embrace, promote, and celebrate our diversity, and offer scholarships. Diversity in development is important.” In addition, the company is supporting communities through Best Western for a Better World and donations to the American Red Cross. “These donations are used to globally support those affected by natural disasters, just like [the one] experienced in Maui, and other charitable causes,” Pohl said.

Attendees and sponsors of the annual convention did their part to support Best Western for a Better World, raising $22,000 at the Best Western for a Better World Golf Outing, held at the Kapolei Golf Club.

George Seli
George Seli
George Seli is the editor of LODGING.