Best Western introduces two new brand

TORONTO—Executives of Best Western International on Wednesday described in broad terms plans for two new brands: Vib, a lifestyle product; and BW Premier Collection*, a soft brand.
“We are a leader in many areas in the hotel industry, and we can also be a leader in design,” said David Kong, president and CEO, in announcing Vib (pronounced „vibe”), a lifestyle hotel concept with millennial travelers in mind. He made the announcement during Best Western’s annual convention.
“Our brand has enjoyed a very long relationship with baby boomers; they practically grew up with us, but now we must figure out how to appeal to the next generation of travelers without compromising our sweet spot,” he said. “The boutique and lifestyle hotel trend is not a fad; in many ways it is the future of our industry.”
Kong said a focus of the product will be what he called a “vibrant and dynamic gathering place” with multiple zones for working, relaxing and socializing. Guestrooms will be small, less than 200 square feet, but will include a number of design-oriented and space-saving features. Furniture is minimal; fold-down hooks will take the pace of closets; and the desk is also the headboard.
“We looked at what is important to this sector and believe we can leverage the strength of Best Western with them,” Kong said. “And while millennials enjoy unique experiences and stylish design they are also motivated by a good price.”
Kong didn’t reveal projected room rates or development costs for the product.
He said the new brand will speak to age groups other than young travelers.
“Retailers like West Elm have a broad appeal beyond millennials because it combines high style with good prices,” Kong said. “We want (Vib) to have the same appeal to Gen Xers and baby boomers also.”
He said entering the lifestyle segment will provide other benefits to the Best Western system.
“It will enhance our brand image and help us connect with new customer segments and new groups of developers. It also creates a halo effect on other Best Western products, and we can use this concept as an incubator for future ideas in design, technology, amenities and services,” Kong said.
Ron Pohl, senior VP of brand management and member services, said management has identified 20 markets that will be ripe for development of Vib.
Soft brand
He also announced the launch of the BW Premier Collection, which he described as a soft brand but provided no other details.
He said the chain’s design team is working on new-construction prototypes for the Best Western and Best Western Plus descriptors. The new designs will be introduced by the end of the year and available globally.
Pohl said the chain’s global pipeline includes more than 400 properties, 35% of which are in North America. Half of the North American pipeline are new-build hotels and include 26 Best Western properties, 106 Best Western Plus hotels and 10 Best Western Premier properties.
Correction, 9 October 2014: An earlier version of this story named the soft brand as Best Western Premier Collection. The name is BW Premier Collection.

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