part of a long-term plan to better communicate the diversity of
properties in its portfolio, Best Western members voted to approve a
descriptor strategy first outlined in November at the organization’s
annual convention. According to Best Western President and CEO David
Kong, the descriptors are intended to better describe various Best
Western properties to consumers and to enhance the image of the brand,
while helping to increase revenue.
“Best Western is a diverse organization,” Kong said in an interview
Thursday, a day after voting by members on approval of the descriptors
was completed. “The problem has been that we’ve never described our
hotels properly to consumers.”
With the new strategy approved, Best Western properties will begin to
be described in three manners: Best Western, Best Western Plus, and
Best Western Premier. New signage will indicate which properties fall
under which descriptors. Best Western properties will also be
identified by their descriptors at the point of contact for consumers.
Properties will have a minimum set of standards to meet to be listed as
one of the three descriptors.
According to Kong, the organization is expecting an approximately
nine-month ramp-up period. “We want the hotels to be able to do what
they need to in order to fit the descriptors,” Kong said. “There’s also
work to be done to get the descriptors in the system.”
Kong said that advertising and consumer messaging is expected to begin
around February 2011. “The consumer message is about the diversity of
Best Western properties,” he said. “We are also empowering consumers to
select the type of property that may be right for them. This will
instill confidence by the consumer.”
He also said that the descriptor strategy is designed to help member
properties compete more effectively. “It’s a huge benefit to owners,”
he said. “If you’re a three-diamond property, [currently] you are
grouped with two-diamond properties. They are all lumped together.
Under this system, the properties will have standards that are more
relevant to each.” Kong said that by properly setting the expectations
of the consumer, there will be a higher degree of satisfaction and the
benefit of that increased satisfaction will be felt across the brand as
consumers become familiar with the descriptors.
Initially, the majority of properties will fall under the Best Western
descriptor, but the properties will be able to move up to the Best
Western Plus and Best Wester Premier description. Kong said he believes
that may change as the economy improves and hotels are more able to
invest in upgrades to their properties.
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