Best Western

Best Western execs share more extended-stay details at annual conference

12 Oct, 2012 By: David Eisen
 


 

Best Western's new extended-stay product would be designed into a three- or four-story new-build Plus or Premier property. Shown here is the Best Western Premier Miami International Airport

LAS VEGAS—Approximately 2,500 Best Western International members gathered at The Venetian for the Best Western North American Convention and Global Conference to hear an update of their member organization on topics ranging from the brand’s highly anticipated extended-stay concept to its new advertising campaign.

Operating under the convention’s theme of “People Who Care,” the most recent news was Best Western’s announcement of a new extended-stay prototype that, as David Kong, president and CEO of Best Western International, said, was not, in fact a new descriptor (such as Plus or Premier), but a demand-driven addition to a new-build Best Western hotel.

Ron Pohl, SVP of brand management and member services, was more specific. Though a pipeline is not yet in place (the concept is “still in its infancy,” he said), there is member demand for it. The concept would be a three- to four-story, 85-room new-build Plus or Premier property where as little as 20 percent or as much as 100 percent of rooms could be the extended-stay design.

Pohl said the size of the bays would be between 300 square feet and 500 square feet, depending on what the owner wants. Research suggested that “there is increased demand for larger guestrooms,” Pohl said, adding that it would be difficult to convert existing inventory into the extended-stay product.

In terms of construction costs, Pohl said that the expectation was $80,000 per key in secondary and tertiary markets, and $105,000 per key in gateway markets, such as Chicago.

Guest care
Taking care of guests was an overarching theme at the convention. Indeed, Best Western’s new and upcoming advertising theme, “Stay with people who care,” centers just on that. “We see the world through the eyes of our customers,” said Dorothy Dowling, SVP of marketing and sales. “Relationships are our currency at Best Western. We are a relationship brand.”

Growth
Best Western’s growth is being led by solid revenue per available room numbers and an uptick in direct bookings via bestwestern.com. Scott Gibson, CIO and SVP of distribution, said that LYNX, Best Western’s booking engine, delivered $1.4 billion in revenue in 2012, equating to an overall contribution of 27 percent. He added that revenue delivery via bestwestern.com has been up 13 percent year over year since 2005.

In addition, RevPAR numbers are promising. In North America, RevPAR is up nine percent over last year.

What’s in store for 2013? “Better group handling,” Gibson said.

Later in the day, during a press conference attended by Best Western executives, talk fluctuated between social media and future development.

Dowling admitted that attribution modeling is still in its infancy, and that social media “is a listening tool that can drive engagement and drive promotions.”

In regard to Best Western’s mobile visibility, Dowling said there is a concerted effort to relaunch Best Western’s mobile site and to revisit the Best Western To Go app.

While the state of the economy remains top of mind, Kong said that fluid gas and oil prices, along with other commodities, had no significant effect on transient travel. A better predictor, he said, was the stock market.

Development of Best Western hotels remains robust, particularly in Asia, where, as Glenn de Souza, VP of international operations, Asia and Middle East, said there are now 207 hotels. “Saudi Arabia is [also] fast-growing,” de Souza added. “There’s lots of money.”

In North America, Best Western’s pipeline sits at 120 hotels, while Europe, where growth is almost stagnant, the pipeline stands at 80 hotels. Pohl said that development in North America is 70 percent conversion, while in Europe that number is nearly 100 percent.

Topic : Best Wester, North American Convention, 2012
External Source : Hotel Management

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