Best Western Motels began in 1946 by M.K. Guertin. He believed in the importance of advertising travel accommodations to the general public. This was an innovative approach to lodging and began a change in the industry. In 1963, they are the largest motel chain with 699 properties. In 1966, Best Western moves it’s national headquarters to Phoenix, Arizona. This allowed room for growth in their member services by consolidating operations. Today, still headquartered in Arizona, they have over 2,200 hotels just in North America. This company born from an idea of a visionary, has a strong global presence.
After World War II, travelers were forced to stay in large urban properties or smaller, family owned hotels off the side of the road. Travelers had to find a place to stay at each stop. There were no reservations, no knowing if anything was available or where the next stop could be. Guertin, part of a network of hotel owners, began to make referrals to other owners to travelers. The idea grew and grew until he decided to formally create a member chain of hotels. In 1962, he created the Best Western crown logo to advertiste participating member hotels. These properties covered the entire U.S., making it possible now to reserve travel accommodations across all 50 states. 1964 proves to be a very large milestone in Best Western history. The motels east of the Mississippi incorporate into Best Western, Inc, still headquartered out of Phoenix. They also expand into Canada with partner hotels. The hotels east of the Mississippi called themselves Best Eastern. This lasted only a few years when Best Western absorbed those hotels into their corporation. In the 1970’s, Best Western claimed to be the “World’s largest Lodging Chain.” The were officially in Mexico, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Central America.
Growth required a larger headquarters. They built a multi-million dollar complex in northeast Phoenix, calling it Best Western International Headquarters. By the end of 1979, they pass another milestone, accommodating over 15 million guests and generating $1 billion in lodging sales. An affiliation with Homestead Motor Inns of Australia allow the company to add International to their name. They become Best Western International.
In 1985, the North Dakota courts challenged Best Western, forcing them into a franchisor role instead of cooperative membership association. They introduce their Gold Crown Club membership for its frequent travelers. They had 200,000 members in their first year.
Keeping true to the spirit of Best Western, the chain finds it leading again in innovation by launching the industry’s largest High-Speed Internet Access. This allowed wireless or hard-wired HSIA in public areas and in some rooms throughout North America. They partner with NASCAR, AAA and Harley Davidson. A focus on customer satisfaction is implemented with online surveys, again the first in the industry to take this step.
Best Western Today
Today, Best Western has a large global presence. They have two multilingual reservation center, one in Italy and the other in Phoenix. The hotels are franchises, following the business model of the corporation. Each franchise must follow the standard set by Best Western. Best Western provides the reservations and brand identity services for all franchisees.