Based in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, the Best Western cooperative was founded in 1946 when M.K. Guertin, a California-based hotelier, decided to implement a central reservations system to make it easier to provide lodging for travellers in the motels located along legendary route 66. Today, 66 years later, Best Western prides itself on the following accomplishments It:
- • is the world’s largest chain of independent hotels, with properties in over 100 countries and territories
- • has over 4,000 privately owned and operated hotels
- • comprises more than 310,000 guest rooms under a single brand, divided into 3 categories:
- - Best Western (3- and 4-star hotels, representing the core brand)
- - Best Western Plus (all the same benefits of the hotels under the Best Western banner, with additional amenities)
- - Best Western Premier (4- and 5-star high-end hotels launched in 2002 in Europe and Asia)
- • has consolidated global revenue of US$967,842 (in 2009)1
- • was one of the first hotels to offer customers internet access (December 19, 1995)
100% of members’ fees are reinvested in services for hoteliers
Best Western is a “voluntary” hotel chain operating as a cooperative, meaning it is neither an “integrated” chain nor a franchise. Upon joining the Best Western cooperative, each hotelier retains their operational independence and becomes an associate of the chain. As such, Best Western hoteliers are the only beneficiaries of the activities developed by the chain. They contribute between 0.8% and 1.5% of their revenue2 to the cooperative.
“Best Western uses the cooperative model in every country in which it operates: resources are pooled and redistributed in the form of member services,” explains Stéphane Gauthier, CEO of Best Western France. “This pooling of resources allows the chain to offer a wide range of services to members: an e-commerce site and sponsored links, a rewards program, advertising campaigns, central reservations systems with negotiated rates, network facilitation team, design services for hotel decor and renovations, etc. In exchange, members obviously pay us fees, but these fees are three to four times lower than that of franchised hotel chains,” adds Mr. Gauthier3.
In closing, the statement made by Gérard Claudel, President of Best Western France, bears repeating: “The cooperative model was more resilient to the crisis, because its profits benefit members, not shareholders.2” The Best Western hotel cooperative is a prime example of this: its revenues are over seven times greater than its expenditures!2
1. According to a press release (in French only) published January 22, 2010 online in Luxury Hospitality Daily.
2. In an article (in French only) written on May 19, 2009 by Yves Barraud in TourMag.com.
3. Interview (in French only) with Stéphane Gauthier on February 8, 2011 in Échos de la Franchise.com.
- Best Western website