HM on Location: Best Western looks at strategies for growth

HONOLULU — BWH Hotels—parent organization to WorldHotels, Best Western Hotels & Resorts and SureStay Hotels—kicked off its 2023 convention at the Hawaii Convention Center with encouraging talks from senior leadership.

Ron Pohl, president of WorldHotels and international operations at BWH Hotels, started his presentation by outlining three strategies he had set out to accomplish this year: Transform as a global brand; retain and grow brands worldwide; and build a strong environmental, social and governance program. 

Strategy 1: Transform the Global Brand

For the first goal, BWH Hotels partnered with public relations firm The Brandman Agency to amplify the corporate narrative, highlight new hotels and promote the company as a “global family.” This initiative, Pohl said, “attracts new customers and developers, increasing revenue to the brand and [members].” 

Strategy 2: Retain and Grow Brands Worldwide

The U.S., Pohl said, has a population of more than 300 million people, and Best Western has 2,500 hotels in the market. “The rest of the world has 7.6 billion people, and we have 1,600 hotels,” he said, adding that this positions the company for solid international growth. 

This year, BWH entered a number of markets for the first time. The company has 232 Best Western hotels and 37 WorldHotels in the international pipeline. Asia-Pacific remains the fastest growing market, and Pohl said growth in India is “top of mind,” with 50 properties either open or in the pipeline. Scandinavia has 15 Aiden-branded hotels in its pipeline, and the company opened its first property in Tbilisi, Georgia, and its first WorldHotel in Spain.

Strategy 3: ESG

To develop a global ESG program, Pohl developed a global committee—“not a division, like many other organizations,” he noted. “We wanted a diverse group to lead our efforts and a commitment that is ingrained in our culture.” Similarly, the company’s leadership wanted commitments from all departments rather than putting the responsibility for the program on a single department. 

The Because We Care program launched in April based on three pillars: Earth, People and Community. “Importantly, every region and country around the world is different, therefore we must think globally and act regionally,” Pohl said. 

BWH partnered with the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, a strategic association leading the hotel industry to be Net Positive by 2050. “And I am pleased to share we have just partnered with Green Key Global, an organization that will assist you at the property level to implement processes, benchmark and respond to [request for proposal] requirements,” Pohl told attendees. 

Pohl highlighted six best practices that can help protect the environment and also save hoteliers money: 

  1. Housekeeping service only upon request
  2. Low-flow showerheads/toilets
  3. LED Lighting throughout
  4. Indigenous landscaping that uses less water
  5. Bulk bath amenities
  6. Recycling programs and the elimination of single-use plastics

More than 50 percent of BWH’s North American hotels have already implemented these practices, Pohl added, and the company aims to reach 100 percent compliance worldwide. Pohl also encouraged attendees to install an electric vehicle charging station at their properties. “We currently have [more than] 600 hotels in North America with them,” he said. “Charging stations attract customers.” 

Pohl highlighted two projects in Asia that are being spearheaded by women leaders. Hoang Di My Binh, deputy general director of Sunshine Group, is developing the Sunshine Diamond Project, a Best Western Premier Residence with 3,125 condominiums. Lieu Di Phuong, chair of the board of the Charm Group, is developing the Charm Resort Ho Tram, which will include the 228-guestroom Best Western Plus Ho Tram, the 406-room Best Western Premier and a WorldHotels Elite development with 406 guestrooms and 76 villas.