Big Plus for Best Western

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Executives at the annual Best Western convention in Vancouver seemed pleased with the initial response to the new descriptor strategy and its implementation. President and CEO David Kong said earlier this year he expected to have approximately 700 ‘Plus' locations out of the 2,200 Best Westerns in North America, but the early tally is 815 will carry the new description when the program is rolled out to consumers in February.

Kong said Best Western will keep a scorecard of the average increases in rate and RevPAR for those properties that opted for the designations of Plus and Premium. If successful, the scorecard will provide plenty of evidence of ROI for members who are considering the move in the future.

Ron Pohl, the senior vice president of brand management and member services, said he expects to have 15 to 20 Premier locations. He said based on AAA ratings, Best Western offered the Plus option to 1,047 properties, so about 80 percent are following through and the rest are passing for concerns of cost (roughly $20,000 per property if just signage is needed) or they feel they are already very competitive in their market and don't need the help.

Other highlights at the opening general session this morning were initial discussions on revamping Best Western's breakfast offerings, and potentially at different levels for each of the three descriptor levels, and the newly announced partnership with Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan, of the National Geographic Channel fame, to further enhance and leverage the pet-friendly brand's image.

Check back at LHonline.com for a more detailed story this week on the conference.

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