Best Western, the largest consortium of mid-market independent hotels in the UK, is to spruce up its image in a £1m rebranding exercise to combat the perception that it is "tired and dated".
The company is seeking to differentiate its members from what it considers to be a growing number of bland hotel chains with a personality-led campaign emphasising the individuality of its establishments.
The largest initiative ever undertaken in the 32-year history of Best Western in the UK is designed to emphasise that while the company offers consistency, it also provides a diverse selection of 280 hotels, each with its own personality. Country house hotels, boutique-style properties in city centres, seaside establishments and a 12th-century castle are all included within the company's portfolio.
"Best Western is the second most recognised mid-market hotel brand in Great Britain, but we want to be number one," said David Clarke, chief executive of Best Western GB. "We have an iconic brand and we're building on this with a twist. Our hotels are all independently owned and operated and the personality each property has is our key strength, and this is the focus of our campaign."
It is hoped that a TV advertisement campaign, a "Britain's Got Talent" style contest and redesigned websites will have an immediate effect on sales. Filmed at 15 hotels across the country, the advertisements will highlight the uniqueness of member hotels and the individuality of the staff who work within them.
All the supporting marketing material, too - whether it is through brochures, websites or social media - will focus on fun and the distinctiveness of properties.
Tim Wade, head of marketing at Best Western GB, said: "I think the public's perception of Best Western is rather tired and dated; we intend to shake that off with a rebranding exercise that is about fun and personality."
"The rebrand will encourage Best Western hotel members to maximise the impact of their hotel's unique characteristics and ‘personality' - a unique selling point in a world of growing numbers of bland chain hotels."
"The recession has given us a real opportunity to invest in the brand and come out of the economic downturn stronger."
Best Western's projected turnover for the year ending 31 March 2010 was £89m, a figure which has remained level over the past two years. The total number of rooms booked between April 2009 and March 2010 increased, but owing to nationally reducing revenue per available room across the hotel industry, overall sales have remained the same.
Wade believes the £1m investment in the rebranding will significantly grow the company's sales and encourage new hotels to sign up to the brand - although he will not reveal target figures.
Member hotels are marking the rebranding with a series of events and functions. The four-star, 72-bedroom Best Western Ullesthorpe Hotel & Golf Club in Leicestershire is turning its Lincoln's Inn into the Rover's Return for a night with staff dressing up as characters from Coronation Street and serving Betty's Hot Pot.
"The rebranding is going to create a greater public awareness of Best Western as being a brand of some really good three- and four-star properties," said Paul Burgess, operations director of the family-owned hotel.
He added that the hotel had joined Best Western five years ago to provide centralised support for marketing and access to the Global Distribution System. "It has enabled us to invest £3.5m in the property, increase it from 38 to 72 bedrooms and improve the rating from three to four stars."
Angela Burns, chief executive of Webb Hotels & Travel which owns three Best Western Hotels, including the Premier Moor Hall Hotel & Spa in Sutton Coldfield, said the encouragement of hotels to use social networking as part of the rebranding would have a significant and positive impact.
"Sites like Facebook will enable us to tell the stories of our individual hotels and engage with customers, and show that our offering is much more personal than corporate," she said.
The success of the rebranding will be assessed via the BDRC Hotel Guests Survey, increased sales and new applications for membership.
The business benefits of rebranding
- Drive more sales to Best Western hotels
- Raise awareness of the Best Western brand and its collection of individual hotels amongst a wider audience
- Remind UK holiday-makers of Best Western as an option for their "staycations" this year
- Persuade more independent hotel owners that Best Western is a highly credible hotel brand that they should consider applying to join
- Encourage Best Western hotel members to maximise the impact of their hotel's characteristics and personality
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By Janet Harmer
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