BW AT 60: ENHANCE BRAND EQUITY

Best Western celebrated its 60th anniversary as the world's largest hotel chain during its annual convention in Dallas last month, with an eye toward the future and the challenges of competing in an increasingly brand-driven business.

While diversity and independence are hallmarks of the membership organization, President and CEO David Kong nudged owners to stay abreast of industry trends in technology, design and customer service. He also cautioned members to guard against deterioration of the value of the Best Western brand — a trend that has been reflected by generally lower AAA ratings for the chain's properties. “The mission of Best Western is clear: it is to increase member value and enhance brand equity,” said Kong.

To that end, “we have put together a holistic plan improving and integrating our training, revenue management, QA and customer care programs,” he said.

Kong also emphasized Best Western's dedication to minimum hotel standards, while promoting the need to “provide recommendations on what a hotel should consider if it is to compete against the higher-end brands in the mid-scale segment.“

With the company focused on the corporate travel segment, Kong reported that 2006 will be the first year Best Western achieves reservation delivery of more than $1 billion, with systemwide sales up more than 39 percent.

During the meeting, Best Western announced a new marketing partnership with Harley-Davidson Motor Cycles and reinforced a commitment to leveraging its NASCAR sponsorship as a vehicle to grow worldwide sales.

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