Hotel Desk

Best Western Launches Agent-Friendly Descriptors

written by | Posted on April 1st, 2011

Best Western is celebrating its 65th year by rolling out its new Best Western Descriptors Program in North America. The program allows the 2,200 member hotels in North America to identify their properties as a Best Western, Best Western Plus or Best Western Premier and is expected to boost both guest satisfaction and revenue.

“We recognize that people travel for different occasions and Best Western offers hotels appropriate for each of those occasions,” says Troy Rutman, director of external communications. “Consumers and partners have told us that they need more tools to help navigate [our large and diverse] portfolio. Best Western, Best Western Plus and Best Western Premier descriptors will help buyers find the right hotel, and know what to expect at check-in.”

There are more than 4,000 Best Western, Best Western Plus and Best Western Premier hotels in 80 countries and territories throughout the world. The brand hosts some 400,000 guests each night. Across all types of hotels, Best Western features many amenities travelers pay for elsewhere as inclusions in the room rate, such as high-speed Internet and, usually parking and breakfast, says Rutman.

Best Western hotels are midscale properties rated two- or three-diamond from AAA/CAA. There are approximately 1,300 to 1,400 Best Westerns in North America. Amenities include free high-speed Internet, often free breakfast and parking, free local calls less than 30 minutes, and a free-of-charge publicly accessible computer with Internet access. Agents should position these properties as “great value without the cookie-cutter experience.”

Best Western Plus hotels are upper midscale properties with a AAA/CAA three-diamond rating. This descriptor is new and there are approximately 800 expected to open in North America this year, and more to open in select markets worldwide through 2012. More than 160 Best Western Plus properties are currently open in North America. Amenities include those found in a Best Western hotel plus updated furnishings, high-quality bedding, upgraded bath amenities and select sundry items. Agents should position Best Western Plus properties as a “more premium experience, featuring contemporary furnishings in comfortable and spacious rooms and common areas.”

Best Western Premier hotels are upscale hotels with amenities of those of Best Western and Best Western Plus, as well as deluxe bath amenities, premium linens and towels, and typically 42-inch LCD or plasma TVs. Guests also receive enhanced guest services, such as onsite dining, a concierge and turn-down service. Properties are currently located in Miami, Napa, CA, suburban Dallas and Lancaster, PA, with more than a dozen expected to open later this year. Agents should position Best Western Premier properties as “real luxury at the right price.”

The Best Western Premier descriptor has been used for more than a decade in Europe, Asia and South America. The decision to bring the descriptors or hotel types to America was in discussion for many years with the company, says Rutman.

“Our members know that to compete most effectively in any market, they need to provide guests a sense of consistency about what kind of stay they can expect,” says Rutman. “This strategy is a win-win-win: for travelers, our partners and clients, and for our membership. It will generate more business and build guest satisfaction and loyalty.”

agent training To help travel agents correctly position the right descriptor, the company is encouraging them to sign-up for Best Western Academy, an online education program specifically for agents. Those who complete the program earn a free night with Best Western. Sign up for the program at bestwesternacademy.com.

“This program will help agents better determine which type of hotel is right for each client—depending on the type of trip he or she may be taking,” says Rutman.

Agents booking travel for their clients should still use the BW chain code in the GDS, but the Plus or Premier designator in the name of the hotel will also be visible.

Best Western is hoping the new descriptors will help attract new guests, says Rutman. He adds, “We believe a satisfied guest is a repeat guest, and satisfaction begins with setting proper expectations. That’s where descriptors come in.”