The US-based group Best Western, which has celebrated its 70th anniversary, is no longer only the operator of the "best hotels in the (American) West" but is also one of the main players in the hotel market worldwide. Today, the network boasts several brand variations and a network of several thousand hotels totalling more than 300,000 rooms. It continues to write its history.
The Best Western Group was founded in Phoenix (Arizona) in 1946 by Mr. K. Guertin, and quickly asserted its ambitions: as early as 1962, the Best Western room reservation service covered the entire American market. The Best Eastern group was originally established in the eastern part of Mississippi, but this geographic distinction was soon abandoned and in 1966, Best Western brought the entire network together.
Twenty years after its beginnings, this new hotel powerhouse set up a board of directors, a new headquarters (its current one) and signed contracts with travel agents, transport companies and tour operators to open up new market potential. It begins to expand overseas in 1975 in Australia and New Zealand. Mexico (1976), Great Britain and Ireland (1978) followed. At the beginning of the 1980s, Best Western welcomed 15 million guests and gathered more than 2,500 hotel owners worldwide.
In 1981, Best Western was put under the spotlight by employing inmates of a Phoenix correctional centre as travel agents. The group continued to build its footprint on the global hotel market and began a methodical conquest of Europe: its portfolio was enriched by hotels in Austria, France, Sweden, Switzerland and Germany in 1981, followed by Denmark (1982), Italy (1982), Belgium (1984), Finland (1984), the Netherlands (1984), Spain (1985), Portugal (1986), Norway (1987) and Spain (1985). In the 1990s, Best Western expanded in South America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
This decade was also an opportunity for new innovations: first, a redesign of the brand's visual identity, then the use of the Internet by listing the group's hotels and their features. In 2004, Best Western offered web access from its rooms and/or communities and the following year, its website celebrated $1 million a day in bookings.
The 2010s provided an opportunity to segment the group's offer into several versions of its umbrella brand: the Best Western, Best Western Plus and Best Western Premier chains entered the North American market in 2011, followed by Vib (2014), BW Premier Collection (2014), Glo (2015) and Executive Residency by Best Western (2016). Vib and Glo are in particular part of a strategy to conquer the lifestyle segment and Millenials. In 2016, the group launched its SureStay white label, an alternative that allows hoteliers to benefit from Best Western tools without having to display the sign.