Lessons from Best Western: customer first, channel later.


Many (if not most) companies think inside-out, central from their product or service, searching for ways how to push this most effectively to their customer. Sure, we all know how important the customer is, without them no existence, but do we really imagine how it is to be our customer? Do we know their experience of all moments that they’re in contact with us? In other words, do we know the customer journey? In most cases not, or at least insufficient.

Best Western UK does it different. A middle-class hotel chain, a franchise organisation. Or, according to Tim Wade, Head of Marketing, a member-organisation. “Best Western consists of independent entrepeneurs who, in contrast with our main competitor Holiday Inn, have a lot of freedom in running their business. As long as they fulfill a few minimal and basic requirements, they are free to develop any kind of service they see as appropriate.” At first sight

a complicated way of managing a consistent brand, but Best Western has solved that creatively: just because of this versatility inspiring entrepeneurail climate, Best western is able to approach the customer in a more personal way. ‘Hotels with personality‘ is therefore the current slogan.

Most important is the Total Customer Experience: optimizing all contact moments, before, during and after a visit to one of over 200 hotels in the UK. In order to support this, they’ve developed a cross-media campaign, which is lead by an extensive email marketing campaign. Through the latter a lot of customer data is collected that gives a detailed insight in the customer journey. And this again forms the basis for a lot of other tools that have been developed. Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter are closely monitored and responded to when needed. Main goal with this is to get good revies on sites such as Tripadvisor.

“It is essential that customer comes before channel”, says Tim. “Understand the experience your customer goes through and you understand where you van improve your product.” And even though the campaign is lead by email marketing activities and social media is mainly reactively managed and could be used more proactively, you can’t say that a campaign with an ROI of £45 for each pound spent isn’t successful.

We spoke with Tim about this Best Western campaign during the Enterprise Marketing 2.0 congress organized by KGS global in Amsterdam earlier this month.

[vimeo 30593130]

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