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In an exclusive interview with Atul Jain, Chief Operating Officer Best Western Hotels & Resorts (India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) tells Joyshree Saha about the brand's journey so far.
The brand’s inception and journey so far.
Founded by M.K. Geurtin in 1946, the hospitality chain opened its door to the world as Best Western Motels. The chain began as an informal link with other hotels and recommending other lodging establishments to travelers. The same time around, they started their global expansion pulling in Canadian hotel owners in their kitty. By 1976, Best Western hotels were present Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. In 2002, Best Western International launched Best Western Premier in Europe and Asia. In 2011, the brand got revamped into a three-tiered format- Best Western, Best Western Plus and Best Western Premier. The years 2014-15 saw Best Western to emerge as a hospitality giant with diverse portfolio that included Vīb®, (an urban boutique concept), BW Premier Collection, (a soft brand of carefully selected, high-quality hotels), GLō, (a broad-midscale boutique concept designed for secondary, suburban and highway markets).
How do you evaluate the Indian Market and what are your plans for the future?
Today, Indian hospitality industry has emerged as one of the key drivers of growth among the services sector in India. The Indian government has also realized the country's potential. India has traveler friendly policies such as Visa on arrival facility, infrastructure development and expected FDI's. We feel the time is ripe for the brand to announce the new offerings in the brand portfolio, viz., Glo, Vib, Executive Residency and BW Premier Collection. And with half of the country's population below 25, the growth potential for these brands is exponential.
What are your criteria for selecting franchisees?
We follow a multi-pronged strategy;
Selectively look for introducing Best Western Premier (none exist in India) as an opportunity to showcase the upper-upscale product
Aggressively pursue development of Glo & Vib, this is a fantastic opportunity to attract the young millennials
Executive Residency also provides opportunity in the extended stay space, as presently only Oakwood and Fraser have some presence.
Elaborate about the training and support that you will offer to your franchisees.
Best Western has a plethora of learning tools available on their global platform that cover all the areas of the hotel operations. Deriving from these tools, we are planning to create training modules for conducting one-on-one training in all the properties across the region. The training modules primarily shall cover revenue management, guest satisfaction and quality assurance.
What is your expansion plans?
Our approach is both quantitative as well as qualitative. While increasing the numbers is imperative, our focus is to have quality hotels in our portfolio, which enhance brand image, improve guest experience and drive superior revenues to our hotels. In addition, our focus shall also be to gain a strong foothold for our new brands. We are aiming at having 50 hotels by 2020 under the Best Western Flag.