Best Western Not-So-Fondly Remembers Al Haig

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The news this past weekend that former Secretary of State Alexander Haig died reminded me of one of the funniest—in retrospect, anyway—incidents I've experienced at a hotel chain convention. Sometime in the mid-1980s, Best Western had its annual convention in Washington, DC and invited Haig to be its keynote speaker. (I'm sure the late Skip Boyer, Best Western's in-house historian, would have remembered the year and location specifics better than I have.)

In front of a packed house of Best Western members, journalists, vendors and others, Haig delivered a lengthy speech in which throughout he referred to Best Western as “Great Western,” as in, “I'm so glad to be here today speaking before the Great Western conference.” Not just once did he make this gaffe but it was throughout the speech. As I say, it made me chuckle, but it rightly infuriated and embarrassed the Best Western officers and staff. I'm sure the company paid Haig a hefty fee for the speech, for which the least he could do was get the name of his benefactor correct. After this fiasco, I heard rumblings that Best Western tried to get its money back, or stop payment on the check, but I never heard the outcome.

I'd like to hear from any Best Westerners or others who may remember this simultaneously funny and sad incident.

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