The Olympic flame was lit as Best Western members converged on the Vancouver Convention Centre as the hotel company took its annual convention to Western Canada. Inside, members heard more about the launch of the company’s descriptor strategy as well as updates on technology, operations, and marketing. Over the course of the convention, members even got an up close look at one of the company’s newest initiative to promote its pet-friendly hotels when Cesar Millan, also known as “The Dog Whisper” addressed the crowd.
Best Western will officially launch its descriptor strategy in February. Of course, its first Premier and Plus properties have already started to emerge. More than 800 properties will eventually carry the Plus designation and the company pointed out that at the time of the official launch a dozen properties will have the Premier designation.
While the descriptors are initially based on AAA and CAA diamond designations, Ron Pohl, senior vice president of brand management and member services, said that the diamond status designations are only being used to get the strategy off the ground and running quickly. In a press conference on Tuesday, he pointed out that the company would quickly move away from using diamond designations and rely more on Best Western’s own standards to help determine descriptor designations.
Meanwhile, David Kong, president and CEO (shown), outlined the company’s overall strategic strategy during the general session. He noted that this year, Best Western was able to outperform the industry in RevPAR by 7 percent and said that the industry overall is trending in the right direction. Kong, who is also the 2010 Chairman of AH&LA, said, “With demand returning and supply growing at less than one percent, the industry is well positioned for a good cycle—for years to come.”
Kong said that the company is focusing on positioning Best Western as relevant and contemporary and attracting more business travelers. He said that the company is looking to drive business through its loyalty program. “The rewards program is a point of differentiation,” he said.
Kong also touted the company’s strategy of increasing advertising and promotion, even during the turbulent times of the past two years. That includes its expanded relationship with Millan, who will become more active as a spokesperson for Best Western in 2011. The company and Millan have a three-year deal and tour sponsorship in place.
On the technology front, Scott Gibson, senior vice president of distribution and strategic services announced that Best Western will redesign its website in 2011. The focus the redesign will be increasing revenue contribution from the site.
On the operation side, Pohl said that the company is also focusing on improving its breakfast offerings, saying that members would vote on new breakfast offerings, which will be based on descriptor levels.