Best Western was founded in 1946 by M.K. Guertin as an informal referral system among member hotels. By 1963, Best Western had become the largest chain in the industry, with 699 member hotels and 35,201 rooms. In 1964, when Canadian hotel owners joined the system, Best Western took the first step toward global expansion. Since then, Best Western has become a familiar presence in more than 80 countries, and with more than 4000 hotels, remains the leader with respect to number of properties under a single flag.
In 2011, Best Western embarked on a mission to help customers better navigate its large and diverse portfolio. Three new types of Best Western hotels entered the marketplace: BEST WESTERN®, BEST WESTERN PLUS®, and BEST WESTERN PREMIER®. All deliver on Best Western’s promise of great service, value and cleanliness, but differ in terms of space and style. For the guest, this means increased satisfaction and a clear idea of which Best Western to book for each travel occasion; for the developer, it means more opportunity to benefit from the powerhouse Best Western brand in upper midscale and upscale markets.
Below are some highlights from the long history of one of the world’s best-known brand names.
1946 Best Western Motels was founded by M. K. Guertin. The hotel chain began as an informal link between properties with each hotel recommending other hotel lodging establishments to travelers.
1962 Best Western began using the crown logo with a rope border to identify member properties.
1964 The group of motels east of the Mississippi River was incorporated as Best Eastern, Inc.
1966 A major expansion of Best Western services was announced. Changes included: Establishing new headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona; a new hotel reservation center offering toll-free service for business commuters, travel agents and vacationers through arrangements with American Express; expanding into Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific; establishing tie-ins with airlines and representatives from other transportation industry members and investigating stronger infiltration of tour and business meeting markets.
1974 Best Western Hotels decided to drop its referral organization image, eliminated the word "motel" from its name and began competing directly with other full-service hotel lodging chains.
1976 Best Western began its push for foreign expansion. Affiliation agreements were signed with 411 properties in Australia and New Zealand.
1977 The phrase, "world's largest lodging chain" became a part of Best Western's corporate identification and advertising theme.
1979 Best Western was accommodating 15 million guests and generating $1 billion in hotel room sales.
1980 Agreements were signed bringing 19 properties in Denmark, 120 properties in France, 19 properties in Finland, 23 properties in Spain, 19 properties in Sweden and 93 properties in Switzerland into the international hotel chain.
1988 The Gold Crown Club® International Program for frequent travelers was launched in September. Within a year, it would report more than 200,000 members and sales of more than $40 million.
1993 The brand identity study, now complete, recommended the adoption of a new Best Western logo and identity. On Nov. 30, the members approved the adoption of a new logo and officially retired the Gold Crown logo.
1995 Best Western introduced its first hotel listings on the Internet at Bestwestern.com. Full information on 150 member properties, including photographs, became instantly available via personal home computer.
2002 Best Western members implemented BestRequests®, a uniform worldwide package of amenities and services.
2004 Best Western launched the hotel industry’s largest High-Speed Internet Access (HSIA) initiative with the fastest implementation. In just eight months, the company established free wireless or hard-wired HSIA in some portion of the public areas, and at least 15 percent of hotel rooms, at all of its North American properties.
2004 Best Western became the first-ever Official Hotel of NASCAR®. The NASCAR® travel discount RaceFan®Rate was created.
2005 Best Western began averaging $1 million in online hotel reservations per day through www.bestwestern.com.
2006 Best Western celebrated its 60th Anniversary with the 1946 Room Rate Promotion, where lucky guests were provided with a special one-night charge of $5.40 – the approximate value of overnight accommodations six decades ago, when the company got its start.
2007 The hotel chain was named a Preferred Lodging Partner of AAA/CAA, and began a multi-year partnership with Harley-Davidson.®
2008 Best Western launched new Atrea prototype. And the Gold Crown Club® International Program celebrated its 20th Anniversary and was renamed Best Western Rewards®.
2009 First Best Western Atrea prototype opens.
2010 Best Western introduces three descriptors - BEST WESTERN®, BEST WESTERN PLUS® and BEST WESTERN PREMIER®.
2011 Best Western celebrates its 65th birthday introducing BEST WESTERN®, BEST WESTERN PLUS® and BEST WESTERN PREMIER® descriptors to the North American market.