Highly regarded hotel executive Georgina Williams has recently joined Best Western Australasia as brand development manager, with responsibility for growing the group’s profile and presence in Australia and New Zealand. Accomnews spoke exclusively with Ms Williams about what it looks like to grow a membership base, and what this means for hotels.
With a background in marketing and communications, and having held senior roles at several leading hospitality companies, such as SilverNeedle Hospitality, Stamford Hotels & Resorts, as well as Swissotel, Ms Williams is excited to grow the company’s network.
When asked about the joining process for new members, Ms Williams explained that the company is actively seeking members, and aims to make the process as easy as possible.
“There is a fixed monthly fee, or a percentage of gross revenue. In all cases, we work with our partners to find the best option; one that works for both parties,” she said.
As a global brand, operating under a member-owner model, she said that there are “significant advantages” over alternatives, such as franchising.
“All our members have a voice in the direction of the company, and revenue is re-invested back into the brand to ensure that we’re driving business for our owner-operators. We don’t have a cookie-cutter approach, and understand that every property is different,” Ms Williams said.
With Best Western entering a growth phase, the new brand development manager told that the company is looking for “good quality” hotels and resorts in capital city CBDs and key regional centres.
“Our discussions with owner operators have been very productive so far,” she reported. “Hoteliers are responding well to our strategy to leverage the iconic Best Western brand across three categories, encompassing mid-scale through to upper-end properties.”
She told Accomnews that while Best Western Premier is the company’s premium brand, Best Western has a number of property types, with talks underway with local hoteliers about Best Western’s latest brand SureStay, a white label option for the budget market, which the company is bringing to regional areas. So far, the response has been positive.
“This brand segmentation has been closely aligned with the Best Western’s Quality Assurance Program campaign, where higher minimum design standards and technology upgrades must be met by all members. It’s resulted in a much stronger network,” she said.
Ms Williams said that it is within the company’s duty of care to ensure hotels have an objective assessment to ensure continued brand relevance for leisure and business guests. She also said that the Best Western brand seeks to adapt to evolving guest expectations and trends around service, lifestyle, design and technology.
“We offer support, guidance and advice to procure prices and design expertise on refurbishments that our current or new members wish to undertake. We also do products at discounted industry prices for both interior and exterior fit-out and refurbishment needs,” she explained.
Understanding the importance of a good network, Ms Williams also mentioned that opportunities with OTAs are important strategic partnerships. With a view to assist members in growing their business, Best Western membership includes access to digital networks, which are designed to attract new customers. Accomnews asked her to explain the benefits, and eventual outcome.
“Our global agreement between Expedia and Best Western means a combined marketing budget for PPC advertising. Our members benefit from better content, exposure of their hotels online, and have their rates managed and parity by Best Western.
“Such mutual partnership creates new dialogue of looking at growth rather than competition. It is also important for us at Best Western to always present what is uniquely authentic about our brand, and as a service industry, we have the business to customer relationship to give that customer-facing experience to our guests that no OTAs can do with their online touch-points. Our job is to get them to rebook directly,” she said.
According to Ms Williams, this customer facing experience has led to over 600,000 loyalty members in APAC and 30 million globally, making it easier for hotels to obtain direct bookings.
With an exciting future ahead, and a big job on her hands, Ms Williams looks forward to seeing and being involved in the brand’s growth.
“It is an honour to join this dynamic company and support the future growth of the Best Western’s exceptional portfolio of properties,” she concluded.