Best Western Hotels & Resorts has rebranded itself as BWH Hotel Group following the purchase of WorldHotels.
The company has moved further upscale with the purchase, as the consortia sought to compete with the global hotel operators.
The WorldHotels agreement added 300 hotels to Best Western’s portfolio for an undisclosed fee.
and came two years after WorldHotels was acquired by Associated Luxury Hotels International. Best Western said that the deal gave it a portfolio of hotel brands in every chain scale segment.
David Kong, president & CEO, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, said: “In the coming months, our focus will be to unlock WorldHotels’ potential by improving revenue delivery to its hotels while protecting its independent identity. We truly believe our platform and revenue engines will benefit WorldHotels and attract many more independence–minded, quality hotels to join the brand.”
In 2017 the ALHI acquired WorldHotels for an undisclosed fee, bringing Worldhotels’ 350 member hotels and resorts together with ALHI’s 250. ALHI chairman, David Gabri, said that the group was preparing to become “more valuable to hotel owners and operating companies as a significant, full-service ‘soft brand’”.
ALHI CEO Josh Lesnick told Hotel Analyst that the decision to sell WorldHotels was two-fold. He commented: “WorldHotels is a strong company with a rich history, passionate member base and incredibly dedicated associates. With WorldHotels primarily focused on individual business and leisure travel, we saw an opportunity for its 300-plus hotel collection to receive enhanced benefit from an organisation with greater scale, distribution, development resources that also has a strong member-focused culture. For ALHI, we saw an opportunity to concentrate on our core competencies within the billion-dollar meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition market segment. We are confident that this transition will be of great value to all parties. Each has undergone amazing transformations over the past several years.”
The company rebranded as Kong celebrated his 15th year at the helm, with the group describing him as “the longest-running CEO of a top 10 major hotel chain”.
Kong said: “I feel very fortunate to have played a role in building Best Western into the brand it is today. To think about where we started 73 years ago as a single brand and now, to see Best Western positioned as a global powerhouse with hotels in every single chain scale segment – is outstanding. Supported by a truly remarkable leadership team, I’m deeply proud of what we’ve accomplished. Our journey has been a special one, and a large part of that for me has been the incredible team I am surrounded by on a daily basis, including our exceptional group of hoteliers. Together, we look forward to maintaining the momentum that has been built and enjoying further progress in the months and years ahead.”
The news came as Accor continued to shuffle its own brand stable, with plans to include 21c Museum Hotels in its MGallery Hotel Collection, taking the collection flag into north America. 21c Museum Hotels – MGallery currently includes eight properties in Bentonville, Cincinnati, Durham, Kansas City, Lexington, Louisville, Nashville and Oklahoma City. Additional projects are in development in Chicago, slated for debut in late 2019, and Des Moines.
Chris Cahill, deputy CEO, Accor, said: “Marrying 21c’s exceptional and distinctive brand with the influence of the MGallery collection and strength of Accor’s global platform deepens the full range of unparalleled experiences available to our guests. The official North American introduction of the MGallery brand marks the continued expansion of our lifestyle ‘boutique’ footprint.”
Accor told us that when the 85% acquisition of 21c Museum Hotels took place the plan was for the properties to join the MGallery collection of boutique hotels, commenting: “it makes sense to grow it within the global MGallery brand”.
Rather than 21c Museum Hotels being within the MGallery flag, the company said that the two would be “sitting alongside each other”.
HA Perspective [by Katherine Doggrell]: Bigger is better is the musical currently being sold to hotel owners. The call to collective bargaining potential with the OTAs and other suppliers gives them a hint of the union movement, but there remain concerns around individual rights. What’s good for the group is not always good for the lone hotelier. The consortia were keen to follow the global operators down the road of multiple brands and now they must face the same concerns.
Tom Magnuson, CEO, Magnuson Hotels, told Hotel Analyst: “Hoteliers need to understand what the large traditional brand companies have become. They have widened the distance in values and they don’t usually have the same goals as the hotel owners who support them. The issues that hoteliers endure continue to increase with consolidation. Hoteliers who bought into a brand and areas of protection wake up to find another member of the brand with a new suffix across the street.”
The consortia have been touted as an alternative to the global branded companies, but in seeking to compete directly instead of sticking to their niche, they lose their USP. And if they play in that space, they must be able to prove they can deliver.