AXIS Observation: Best Western’s New Boutique Brand GLo – A Direct Response to Aloft Hotel’s Success?
Last month, mid-market hotel giant Best Western International announced at its annual convention the top-down rebranding and repositioning of their entire organization. To punctuate the rebranding, Best Western International will change its name to Best Western Hotels & Resorts, a nod to the now 7 brands that make up the company, and further reinforcement of their recent efforts to break out of the budget roadside motel niche they’ve held for nearly 70 years.
As part of their ongoing repositioning, Best Western also announced the launch of a new boutique brand, GLo. Described as a midscale new construction brand offering a boutique lifestyle experience at an affordable price point, one can’t help but presume GLo is Best Western’s response to the growing number of brands and properties angling for the techno-savvy Millennial and young professional traveler. Case in point, Aloft Hotels – a Starwood brand AXIS/GFA Architecture + Design has done a notable amount of hotel architectural design and hotel renovations for (see some of our work for the Aloft brand in our Hospitality Portfolio, including the Aloft Silicon Valley and Aloft El Segundo) – recently opened their 100th property in Allen Texas last month.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Best Western executes the go-to-market strategy for GLo. To take a page from Aloft’s playbook, delivering an innovative, social, technologically revolutionary boutique experience requires more than window dressing; a quick look at any Aloft property website tells you they live their brand, and aren’t ashamed to own it. Whether Best Western – who to their credit has been one of the dominating forces in the market space at the opposite end of the spectrum from Aloft’s – can pull off an organic, unforced, and legitimate progressive brand experience, remains to be seen. Curiously, when announcing GLo, Best Western President and CEO David Kong remarked, “We’re no longer that dowdy old woman or your grandfather’s Oldsmobile. We’re a fresh and vibrant brand. We’ve earned the right to have new logos.” No doubt, redefining a 70 year old brand favored by your grandfather and his Oldsmobile is going to take a lot more than simply new logos.