HB ON THE SCENE: Best Western Unwraps New Name, Logos, Brand at Conference

HONOLULU—At the Hawaii Convention Center today, Best Western officially severed the word International from its corporate name, repositioning itself as Best Western Hotels & Resorts to better reflect its product offerings.

It also tossed the brand’s symbolic crown that reigned for 53 years atop its logo, and introduced a new master brand logo that will visually define the nearly 70-year-old global association for the future.

A crowd of some 1,970 owners and managers, plus other attendees at the annual event, also got to see the reveal of totally reinvented brand identifiers and logos for Best Western, Best Western Plus and Best Western Premier.

Swept away were the familiar Best Western shields and golden tone, replaced by an assortment of shapes created in deep blue (aka Pantone 280) and cranberry shades, and features silver and champagne backgrounds among the changes that will enhance outdoor signage.

The core Best Western hotel brand logo uses hand-drawn white lettering showing BW on a blue circle signifying a globe that uses highlighting, gradient and shadowing for a 3-D effect.

The Plus logo—incorporating the deep blue Best Western lettering—recalls the brand’s use of red, this time done in a cranberry color that serves as the background for a diamond-shaped icon hosting the white BW ligature, as well as colors the word Plus and an emphatic underscore.

The Premier logo offers a BWP monogram in an elliptical shape hovering over the word Premier (in BW blue) an emphatic line and the words Best Western at the bottom.

While the corporate name and master brand logos are a done deal, having been approved by the global lodging chain’s board of governors, the three brand identifiers must be approved by the association’s members as one of several items on a November ballot.

A small sampling of attendees found reaction mixed regarding the logo changes. Some described the corporate master logo and name as “clean” and “simple,” while some wondered why a circle was used for the core BW brand. Another member wanted to know why the crown was removed. Most agreed it would take time to absorb the changes.

“Members have asked me over the years if we’re moving too fast or making too many changes. I tell them look around you. Our industry is even changing faster,” Jay Patel, Best Western’s board chairman, told attendees. “We have to move quickly. We have to implement new programs. It’s not an option; it’s a necessity. We have to reposition our brand… We need to pass this new logo ballot to move our brand forward.”

In addition to the logo revamps, Best Western unveiled its seventh brand, Glo, which would fill a midscale boutique/lifestyle niche in secondary and tertiary markets where its sibling brand, Vib, would not be an appropriate fit.

A presentation showcased the nascent brand’s LED lighting effects, which would offer distinct curb appeal for the scalable new-construction modular design that is tagged at $65,000 a key for an average 80-room hotel. Beacon-like lighting would appear on a property’s side and facade. Interior drama, created via imaginative lighting as well as guestrooms featuring center-loaded bathrooms, gel-top mattresses and tablet tables, was met with enthusiastic response from the crowd, which clapped and whooped its approval.

Citing a wealth of improvements over the past decade and pointing to all that would need to be done with what some were calling “The Great Refresh,” President/CEO David Kong indicated the company was committed to keeping quality a priority across all brands. Toward this, the chain’s board approved a motion to require all Best Westerns to display a service promise plaque.

“This service promise is intended to instill confidence in travelers,” stated Kong. “It’s also intended to motivate our members to resolve guest issues before they leave our hotels.

“Separately, we will be approaching our big corporate clients such as Siemens and IBM, to give them a brand-level guarantee. If something goes wrong and the hotel has not taken care of the problem, we will—at the brand level. We will refund the stay to the company and deposit Best Western Rewards points in the traveler’s account to apologize for the inconvenience. A guarantee is the best way to instill confidence and allow us to earn their business.”

Kong also touted the association’s new mobile site and app, which come on the heels of Best Western’s activation of more than 2,000 websites for its North American properties.

“Our new mobile site is designed to be both responsive and adaptive. It will intuitively optimize both the display and the content based on the size of the device used,” he said, noting the company already is working on the next phase of enhancements.

“It will take personalization to the next level. It will allow us to anticipate what users want to do and deliver the appropriate content. We also are working on using the app as a virtual concierge to enhance pre-arrival, on-property and post-departure experiences,” said Kong.

In addition, Best Western is totally revamping its award-winning website, creating a new bestwestern.com in 2016. “We have partnered with Google to enhance the user experience. This includes leveraging Google’s search capabilities, Google Business View and Google Business Photos. Users will be able to explore the inside of our properties, with compelling visuals. Through our new digital platform, our property websites, mobile app and bestwestern.com will all be integrated and will feed off of one another,” he said, which is expected to create synergy, enhance the user experience and drive more revenue to members.

“The future of this brand relies on whether you and your property provide our guests with the highest quality of care they deserve and expect every day,” Patel told the audience. “As a membership organization, there’s always a conflict between what’s easiest at the property and what is best for the brand. We must always remember that, together, our hotels create the brand; if our hotels are successful our hotels will do well. If our brand is respected, our hotels can get the higher rate, run at a higher occupancy and, ultimately, sell for a higher price. That’s why we’re in the business. We must always act in the best interest of the brand.”

Stefani C. O’Connor

For more on the Best Western Hotels & Resorts annual conference pick up the Oct. 7 issue of HOTEL BUSINESS®.