Looking back on 75 years of Best Western history

4 min reading time

Published on 14/01/22 - Updated on 17/03/22

Best Western

For more than 75 years, Best Western has been welcoming travelers from around the world to its hotels.

The initiation

In 1946, Merile Key Guertin began a south/north road trip from Long Beach, California to Tacoma, Washington. On the way, he had the idea of listing the hotels separated by a full tank of gas as essential stops for travelers. On his return to Long Beach, he projected this idea onto Route 66 and wrote a guidebook listing all the hotels according to his method. To be listed, he suggested that hoteliers meet standards of cleanliness, respectability and service. This was the birth of the Best Western cooperative. In 1948, more than 5 million copies of the Best Western Motels guide were distributed, listing all affiliated hotels.

M.K. Guertin went against the grain of other groups that were being created at the same time by encouraging diversity and personality in each hotel when his competitors favored uniformity and standardization in terms of decoration and design. For him, each hotelier must express its own personality from the reception to the decoration.

Each Best Western hotel remains independent but adheres to a charter of welcome and services that can be summed up by this phrase from the founder: "Treat your guests like your family".


M.K. Guertin invented the principle of recommendation well before the arrival of the Internet. Thus, each hotelier is invited to recommend to his own clients the other hotels of the cooperative and to take care, at their request, of the reservation. M.K. Guertin himself visited each hotel to ensure the quality of the offer and to maintain the link with each hotelier. He then initiated what would become the annual Best Western convention.

He did not stop there. In the early 1950s, M.K. Guertin theorized in the trade press about the importance of advertising in a rapidly changing industry. He applied it to Best Western by proposing to the members to mutualize the costs. He displays his advertisements with the common Best Western logo along the main national roads. Here again, it is a revolution that has been imitated many times since. 


As early as 1964, the group began its expansion in Canada, then, barely ten years later, in New Zealand and Australia to become the first hotel group in the world. It continued its expansion in Mexico, Central America, Great Britain, and Ireland before 1980, when it reached 2,650 hotels worldwide. Its reservation system was now international.

 In 1981, Best Western expanded into Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, and Germany. That same year, in France, the Mapotel hotel group signed a ten-year affiliation contract with Best Western.

 In 1993, a study commissioned by the brand recommends changing its visual identity and logo. The famous Gold Crown was replaced by the famous blue, yellow, and red logo.

 While many countries continue to join the Best Western family, the brand's first website opens in 1995. The digital revolution is worldwide and Best Western becomes a major player.


In 2002, the upscale Best Western Premier brand was launched in Europe and Asia. This strategy continues under the impetus of David Kong, elected CEO of the group in 2004 and an eminent personality in the hotel industry. In 2011 he acts to create three distinct brands Best Western, Best Western Plus and Best Western Premier, then in 2014 Vib and BW Premier Collection and Glo in 2015 as well as Executive Residency in 2016.

Today, the BWH Hotel Group umbrella brand includes 18 brands.


For further

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