One of the cool things about this year’s HI Connect Design was getting a sneak peek inside how some of the major hotel companies operate behind the scenes. And to do that we thought what better way than assembling an all-star line up from some of the country’s leading hotel companies would do the trick.
So for the first time ever (that we’re aware of in this business), Hotel Interactive assembled all-star teams from specific brands to reveal their secrets about what the process is like to bring a hotel into a franchised brand.
This week we check in with Best Western International brand team to discuss the process of developing, designing and purchasing for a new hotel. In future weeks we’ll check in with other brand teams that threw their support behind HI Connect Design.
According to Mark Williams who is a VP, North American Development, the Best Western development pipeline is gaining traction after several fallow years.
“It was very tough, but development is looking up. Conversions are still the name of the game right now. We just don’t have enough new construction money but it is picking up. The latter part of 2012 was good. And the first quarter of ’13 was looking very good and we hope it continue,” said Williams.
Part of the development surge will be coming from the company’s new, new construction prototype that combines traditional and extended stay room in a flexible to build format. This prototype is designed to receive the Best Western Plus designation. The company also has Best Western and Best Western Premier.
Williams said the company wanted a property that could be as much as 50 percent extended stay, which is a very hot market right now, especially in Texas and the oil-rich areas, and this product meets that need.
Amy Hulbert, Director of Design said this new design fits on the same size of land as older prototypes but utilizes it more effectively. “We’re really looking at the same land costs for people, and it is really developed kind of as an L-shape so that the site is set back a little bit more to the back of the property where the parking is L-shaped instead of having parking all the way around. So your travel time to get from your vehicle to the entrance of the hotel is shortened, and it’s just a little bit of a different approach.
“The other thing that’s wonderful about that is that we’re able to cluster our landscaping in areas that are denser so you can really get better use of all that landscaping that you’re putting in, and people can actually feel like there’s some green space within that same site size,” said Hulbert.
There is also more pubic outdoor space, larger lobby and more programming for spaces to make them more profitable throughout different day periods.
Once a deal is signed it gets moved over to Richard Bennett, VP Supply and Design who helps hotels develop the look and feel of the interiors.
“Many, if not most, like to work with us with our in-house design firm,” said Bennett. “So we will either do packages or we’ll do custom design for them. And then Alan Wagener, Director of Purchasing’s team leverages the buying power of the world’s biggest hotel family to get them great prices.
And since we are a not-for-profit member-owned association, we don’t have a lot of drive to make money on our hotels. We’re there to help them succeed; help them put heads in beds. So we try and help them with a design that’s going to please their guests and with pricing that’s going to give them an advantage to be profitable right off the bat.
Then it’s off to Wagoner who handles the product purchasing. “I’ve noticed, over the years, that supply chain really has changed in how it goes about its business. One of the things we’re finding primarily is that the lead times on a lot of things are getting longer and longer. And the expectation from the developer’s perspective, or the owner, is getting shorter and shorter.
“So we’re constantly battling that when to get it there, get it there on time, but not too early. So it’s a – because all the hotels are different it does add another dimension into the procurement process where there isn’t routines that we typically order. It’s everything under the sun. But that’s the part that’s exciting too,” said Wagoner.
To learn even more about the inside operations of Best Western listen to the session in our official podcast below.
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Mark your calendars now to ensure you’re free when HI Connect Design™ returns to Nashville, TN April 2-4, 2014. For information on the 2014 edition, check out www.hiconnectdesign.com
Please contact us immediately at (631) 424-7755 x150 with any questions.