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Best Western Premier: Superior comfort hotels with the local colors

TravelDailyNews: Premier is the new concept launched by Best Western few years ago as a separate segment of high class hotels. Could you please explain to us why Best Western after so many years of presentation decided to separate its product?

Francois Xavier Deler: Best Western is the largest hotel chain in the world, as it has more than 4200 hotels. So, we feel that there are many differences between our hotels, as they are ranking from 3 – 5 stars. As a result, we are thinking it makes sense to clarify the differences among them by creating this special segment of high class. The other idea was if we are creating a higher segment in the hotels we might be able to grid new hoteliers that were not thinking of BW before. And doing this, we are targeting new segments of guests that were not considering BW before.

TDN: What is the concept of “Premier”?

F.X.D.: We believe that there are two main categories of tourists. Some of them want to have the same guestroom no matter where they are. For those tourists the model of an identical room anywhere in the world is the right one. But, for many others it is very important to have different experiences of the world and of the real way of living in a given destination. Those tourists might want to be guaranteed the same superior comfort together with the same quality of authenticity and ‘art de vivre’ experience. As soon as you go through the doors of a Premier BW hotel you have reached your destination! Because, if you look around, no matter how old the hotel is, you will take the feeling of the way the people live in this destination. So, the marketing idea of BW Premier is the privileged access to the authentic ‘art de vivre’ of each destination. By privilege we mean superior comfort, 4 stars hotels in Europe and 5 stars hotels in Asia. By authenticity we mean the ‘art de vivre’, with the local colour. The real uniqueness of our concept is superior comfort AND local colour. We all know that the international brand will give you superior comfort, but they do not have the local colour. On the other hand, the hotels that have a local colour do not have the ability of giving international standards and comfort.

TDN: Do you target new hotels to join the Best Western chain and especial1y the premier category?

F.X.D.: Our idea was to clarify the market first, and then to target new clients. At the beginning 9 out of 10 of the hotels which joined the Premier category were former BW members, but today 60% of the hotels that we certify as Premier hotels come from outside and chose BW Premier after considering several high class international brands. In Europe, most of them are 4 stars hotels, in Asia most are 5 stars hotels, which is happening because the markets in both regions are quite different.

Premier, fully supported by the International Headquarters of BW was first implemented in Europe and Asia. Today, we have 106 hotels in the world in the Premier class, 86 of them are in Europe, and 20 of them are in Asia. We have new hotels coming in Australia, in South America, in Middle East, and hopefully within the next two or three years in Northern America.

The guests we target are more than 40 years old, wealthy, and attentive to their comfort which they do not believe is contradictory to authenticity. Therefore, they want to feel richer when they leave a place; they want to have stories to tell to their children and to their friends. Our clients want to touch the legend of the destination, without giving up the comfort, indispensable to the fulfillment of the experience. 

Among the next destinations where Premier is going to have new hotels we like to quote Chile, Egypt Peru, Dubai, Qatar, and Vietman. Of course, we are targeting key destinations all over the world.

TDN: Could you please analyse why a hotelier to join Premier BW chain?

F.X.D.: BW is a chain of independent hotels, we are not franchising hotels. BW does not own any hotel; each of its members is independent.  Of course, each member must comply to BW standards.  Because Best western is a chain of independent hotels, we are in a position to propose much lower fees than any of our competitors providing the same services. So, the business model works perfectly. When a hotel signs with our main competitors, it is engaged for up to 30 years. Also, it is committed to very strict standards regarding sizes of guest rooms, the colours of the walls, etc. For those hoteliers who do not like the idea of giving up the major decisions, we believe BW is the best choice.

The main reasons why a hotelier might be willing to choose Premier BW are the following:

  • The market must support the strategy; it is not Premier that makes the market.
  • This provided, BW Premier is the best solution, because the fees are cheaper, and the business model works perfectly.
  • The owner of the hotel is still the “boss” of the place.
  • The hotelier will benefit of strong support by the commercial power of BW, which is a well know brand, and its specific marketing efforts.

Between 15% and 30% of the hotel reservations are provided by the BW call centers and websites.  Those reservations rate higher than the average hotel rate.

TDN: You mentioned the web site of the Premier BW. What does it present and offer to its visitors?

F.X.D.: Our web site is just one year old, aiming to explain how unique each hotel is. The Web Marketing Association last summer elected it as the best hotel web site in the world. The Premier web site is currently in English and French, but we are in the process of translating it in Spanish, Italian, German, and hopefully in Mandarin as well.

It is very important to mention that, the number of visitors doubled comparing to last month. As the web site supports fully our business model, we are in the position to provide internet reservations up to 350 dollars a night in Paris, which is quite high and confirms the specific positioning of BW Premier. The innovation of our site is that it is able to present the unique stories and the experiences our hotels offer. Beyond the necessary international comfort guaranty, we want to focus on the uniqueness of our hotels, explaining the kind of experience each guest can live in each destination around and at a BW Premier hotel, whether it’s an ancient prison in Helsinki, a paradise beach in Phuket, an ancient convent in Venezia, a renaissance castle in France, a 600 years old property in Germany, a most refined building and restaurant in China, a ballroom built for Napoleon in Bruges …