With hotel owners increasingly focused on their bottom lines as a result of declining demand, Best Western Hotels & Resorts at its virtual convention last week revealed a number of new initiatives and partnerships within its proprietary platforms designed to provide its members added savings and efficiencies.
Best Western SVP & COO Ron Pohl provided an update on the company’s development efforts, as well as enhancements to a handful of disciplines, including revenue management, procurement and food & beverage.
Pohl pointed out that the company activated more than 240 hotels across its Best Western, SureStay and WorldHotels brands globally this year and expects another 100 to come online by year’s end. He further added that of that number roughly 170 hotels will open in North America this year. In addition, in 2021 the company is projecting anther 250 hotels will open globally to add to its portfolio of more than 4,700 hotels globally within its 18 brands.
Pohl provided some development specifics by offering an update on the company’s boutique brand lineup, in particular. He noted that Aiden had 11 properties in the pipeline as of September 1, while it’s Glo brand is poised for 5 additions this year with another 8 to follow. Furthermore, the company’s urban boutique Vib brand has some 17 properties in development. In addition, Pohl noted its upscale Best Western Premier brand has some 25 hotels in the pipeline.
Pohl, meanwhile, detailed the objectives around some of the company’s latest updates. “In the coming year we remain focused on initiatives designed to help you make money, save money, staff your hotels and increase guest satisfaction,” he said.
As an example, the COO touted the continued evolution of its revenue management system in response to changing booking patterns and guests reserving rooms closer to their actual stay date with a focus on ease of use and machine learning, as well as new same-day email alerts.
Pohl also informed members that they will soon be able to make rate changes more easily from their smart phones as the result of a mobile-friendly application on BestRev. “Our hope is that by making it more convenient for you to monitor and update the rates you’ll be more likely to take advantage of opportunities as they arise,” he said.
Pohl went on to emphasize the importance of maintaining rate integrity during this challenging time in the wake of the global pandemic.
“The recovery has resembled less of a V shape and more of a Nike swoosh sign, but if there’s something the last seven months has taught us it’s that hotels that exercise pricing discipline perform far better than those that don’t. There are opportunities to improve your profitability even on nights when you don’t sell out,” he said, further adding, “we are all in this together.”
From a purchasing perspective, the company unveiled three enhancements to its Best Western Supply program starting with a new digital order guide, which provides operating supplies and guestroom supplies at a 20 to 40 percent discount, according to Pohl.
Best Western Supply is also expanding its drop ship program for larger, more expensive items, such as TVs, ice machines, and PTAC units. Lastly, the company has also announced a new partnership with Hiring Resource.
Pohl talked about the benefits of the new deal that will enable members to post positions on the Best Western website.
“I recognize staffing is a continual challenge for many of you. With this new partnership you will have a new resource to post open positions online at a cost of zero,” he said.
Meanwhile, mobile check-in continues to gain momentum and Best Western now has completed the first mobile key certification with Assa Abloy. The new platform enables guests who have downloaded the Best Western app to pre-register and receive their mobile key prior to arrival and go directly to their room. They can also text requests during their stay and check out through the app as well.
“Mobile check-in is here. If we needed something to jump start the customer usage COVID did it,” said Pohl.
Best Western also announced a new partnership with P&G Professional, the away-from-home division of Procter & Gamble, to add Microban 24 Professional to its cleaning protocol known as the We Care Clean initiative. Starting this fall, all 2,300 Best Western-branded locations across the U.S. and Canada will have access to Microban 24 Professional, adding an extra layer of protection for hotel guests, according to the company. “If you use this product you can now market it to your customers,” said Pohl.
Finally, Pohl acknowledged the company is in the process of re-evaluating breakfast programs throughout its brand lineup as a result of the pandemic.
“It’s important for our hotels to offer a consistent food program, but also allow flexibility for those hotels that use breakfast to create a competitive advantage. Costs are top of mind so we’re researching and evaluating new F&B products and equipment, negotiating on your behalf to reduce costs across the board,” he said.
Finally, Pohl underscored the company’s overall commitment to its membership. “As we look to the future we all recognize we still have challenges ahead. It will take years for us, the industry and our country to return to a pre-COVID economy. Just as we were here to support you during the past year, we’re here to support you in the future and together we will weather the storm,” he said.