HM on Location: BWH Hotels plans extended-stay, upscale growth

HONOLULU — During the company’s annual convention at the Hawaii Convention Center this past week, senior leaders from BWH Hotels shared updates on the company’s expansion into the extended-stay, upper-upscale and luxury segments through two growing brands.


The company announced its new @Home by Best Western extended-stay brand at last year’s convention, noting that the brand, then called Home by BWH, would fit in the midscale segment and be “lean” in terms of investment and square footage.

“Our new extended-stay brand will allow us to capture our fair share of the extended-stay segment, which is expected to generate over $18 billion in revenue opportunity this year alone,” President and CEO Larry Cuculic said during the opening general session. “We're entitled to our fair share. We're a global powerhouse.”

During a press conference later in the convention, Brad LeBlanc, SVP and chief development officer at BWH Hotels, said that while the company has approximately 2,400 hotels in North America, “very little” of that inventory is in the extended-stay category. As developers seek to pour money into that segment, he continued, they are looking for green spaces to develop their next brand. “Best Western delivers that.”

The company has 25 @Home properties signed so far as well as two five-packs, one in the upper Midwest and one in the Southeast. “@Home delivers a product where the market is,” LeBlanc said. “We talk about it all the time: Meet the consumer. We're meeting that consumer. We're also meeting the developer, so it's a perfect interchange.”

LeBlanc noted “some competitive pressures” within the space. “A lot of people are chasing us into that segment, but you know what? With our green space and engine, it's a winning formula.” BWH Hotels members “want a piece of that segment,” he added, and are “diving in.”  

Joelle Park, BWH’s new SVP and chief marketing officer, noted that consumer demands are changing, and the new brand is “an exciting opportunity to capitalize … on an unmet customer need.” @Home will cater to a wider demographic than traditional business and leisure travelers, she continued. “What we'll do is mine for those opportunities and then find the moments to talk to [potential guests], where they know the value of what we bring to an extended-stay experience.” The brand has more than 30 properties in the pipeline. 


Nearly five years after acquiring the WorldHotels soft brand and expanding it into different categories, BWH is looking to change the collection’s narrative, Ron Pohl, president of WorldHotels and international operations at BWH Hotels, said during the general session. 

“We need to be more competitive,” Pohl told the attendees. “Today's travelers want unique experiences, and developers want to create their own vision and story for their hotel.” As such, the new “Welcome to our World” brand story for WorldHotels will serve as a “platform” for each property to help connect with guests, he said, emphasizing authenticity and local qualities. The company is also launching a new logo to increase the brand’s visibility and recognition with a W replacing the previous swirl, and an updated website aims to help streamline the booking process for guests. 

“One of the opportunities that we saw with WorldHotels is [that] in the past, it primarily competed as a distribution channel for hotels,” Pohl said during the press conference. “We believe it's an opportunity to have a real brand.” To make a compelling brand, however, “you have to have a story behind it and you have to have a reason customers want to engage with it.” While all the hotel stories will be different, he added, “they're all aligned with a story—that the customers want an experience that is different and unique at their hotel.”