When was the last time you stayed in a Best Western hotel? If it has been a while, you may be surprised at what you experience the next time you check in, especially if you are a business traveler.
Over the last decade, Best Western has been redefining and modernizing, moving away from the familiar roadside model that may have introduced you to the brand. As a matter of fact, most of those older motel-style properties are no longer affiliated with Best Western—it has recently separated from over 1,200 hotels that no longer conform to its heightened brand standards. Since 2011, it has invested a whopping $2 billion in improvements and renovations at the 2,100 North American properties that remain. (That averages out to about $1 million per hotel!)
Best Western’s first major outreach to business travelers happened in 2004 when it became the first major hotel brand to offer free high-speed internet access to all guests. Free wi-fi is now relatively common offering among hotels, but 12 years ago it was trend setting! To keep up with the trend, it recently added strict new brand standards that ensure continual investment in higher bandwidth—and faster connections.
After conquering wi-fi, Best Western set its focus on providing a more robust free breakfast. That meant adding new hot items as well as more proteins like eggs, breakfast meats and yogurt. Staying on trend on the breakfast front, Best Western is now promoting its new “build your own breakfast” allowing guests to create individual yogurt or oatmeal parfaits, breakfast sandwiches, or stacks of pancakes, waffles or French toast. Business travelers in a hurry can get a “grab and go” breakfast, that gets them out the door and on the road with a bottle of water, fresh fruit and a breakfast bar.
Once it nailed wi-fi and breakfast, Best Western set out to clarify and better set business traveler expectations by dividing its core hotel portfolio into three distinct brands in 2012: Best Western Premier, Best Western Plus and Best Western. Service levels are the same at each but the amenities are enhanced. At a standard Best Western you can expect to find the basics such as breakfast, free wi-fi, coffee makers, free parking and cable TV. More contemporary Plus properties add on amenities favored by business travelers such as big and well-lighted desks, in-room refrigerators, fitness rooms, pools, or business centers. Upscale Premier hotels are typically located in iconic downtown or resort areas and sport high-end furnishings and design, on-site restaurants and/or bars, same-day dry cleaning service, meeting rooms and HD televisions. Typically, Plus and Premier properties earn three or more stars from AAA. So the next time you book a Best Western, you’ll know what you are getting before you get there by choosing the brand that best applies to your specific trip.
To keep up with business travelers’ ever-changing needs and demands, Best Western is currently rolling out two new brands to attract new travelers. GLo will be a hip, midscale boutique hotel for suburban markets with an emphasis on value, design and comfort. Vib hotels will be similar, but more likely located in downtown areas with buzzy public spaces.
And then there’s the award winning Best Western Rewards (BWR) program, which stands out for not following the trend toward dilution of member benefits. BWR is the only major hotel loyalty program that has not reduced benefits over the last decade. Members earn 10 points per dollar spent, and can redeem those points at 4,100 hotels around the world (for as few as 8,000 points per night and global average of 20,000 points). Even better, the Status Match, No Catch plan matches the status one has at any other hotel chain, providing perks such as bonus points, late check out, space available upgrades and other bennies. And now, BWR members can access special members-only discounts (around 10%) when booking online at BestWestern.com. TIP: Right now you can earn a $50 gift card for every two stays before August 28. Details here.
All these accomplishments have help the brand expand. There are now over 4,100 Best Western hotels around the world, and most recently the brand made a major push into one of the world’s fastest growing regions: Asia. A truly global program means BWR members can earn and burn points on business trips in the U.S. and redeem those points for personal trips in castles in Europe or sleek high rises in the shimmering cities of Asia! For some business travelers, another trip is the last thing they want, and the BWR program has them covered with generous redemption opportunities at major retailers and a long list of merchandise awards.
Perhaps the most surprising fact I’ve learned about Best Western since I’ve been working with them is that it’s not a hotel chain. Wait, what? Best Western isn’t a hotel chain? Nope. It’s an association of independent hotel owners and operators. That means that each hotel is run by a small or medium sized business owner—who is likely serving another small or medium-sized business owner like you. This helps keep the Best Western brand unpretentious and focused on travelers with offices on Main Street, not on Wall Street.
Have you checked in to a Best Western lately? If not, there’s a lot to check out!
Disclosure: Thank you for reading TravelSkills! We will periodically send out messages like this one from commercial partners about topics relevant to frequent travel. Our sponsors’ support, and yours, help us keep TravelSkills a free publication. This post is sponsored by Best Western Hotels & Resorts.
Chris McGinnis is Best Western’s travel trends expert and business travel blogger on www.youmustbetrippin.com