Best Western Secrets Revealed!

Best Western is more of a hotel booking service than a chain. It’s not a management company, hotels are generally independently owned and also independently operated. Best Western has an online course that front desk agents have to go through, and someone on property has to be certified in their reservation system and also certified in housekeeping.

Best Western doesn’t run the hotels, and the brand standards – despite in recent years adding ‘brand descriptors’ (for legal and internal political reasons they couldn’t call these separate brands) “Plus” and “Premier” – are fairly lax compared to major chains like Marriott and Hilton.

Still, there are standards, and there are rules. member traveltoomuch shared a link to Best Western’s rules and regulations for its hotel properties.

Only I would find the full .pdf interesting reading. But I’ve pulled out some of the highlights, “Best Western Secrets Revealed” if you will.

  • Best Western’s ‘walk policy’ (how they handle guests when the hotel is oversold) is fairly standard.

    Each Member shall honor room reservations made with either an advance deposit or credit card guarantee or a 4pm/6pm hold if accepted by the Property, at the rate confirmed at the time of booking. If for any reason a room is not available, the Member shall arrange for comparable accommodations in the area, if possible at a nearby Best Western; if not, at a comparable hotel or motel. The room shall be provided at no charge to the guest for the first night’s stay. Transportation and a telephone call to notify the guest’s home or office of the change shall also be provided without charge.

    They don’t require further compensation, such as how Starwood Preferred Guests requires that when an elite member of their program is walked that member also receives points equivalent to a free night’s future stay at the property.

  • “Kids stay free”

    Children 12 years old or under stay free when accompanied by a parent or grandparent in the same room.

    This could be handy in regions of the world, like Europe, where extra person charges are common.

  • Hotels must pay travel agents a minimum of 10% commission.

    All Members shall accept reservations from bona fide travel agents on a year-round, space-available basis and pay at least the standard 10 percent commission on the gross room rental, except for bookings on special package pro grams made at net rates as specified by Best Western.

  • Best Western bans porn.

    Each hotel shall,

    uniformly prohibit the offer, sponsorship or provision of any entertainment which could be classified as adult, pornographic, lewd, sexually explicit or obscene. Prohibited enter tain ment shall include, without limitation, the showing of or offer to show any movie or film with an “X” or similar rating or any movie or film that is equivalent to “X” rated and the offering of nude dancing or modeling.

    Remember that Mormon-controlled Marriott is only getting out of the porn business because it is no longer profitable, since in the internet-age people bring their own..!

  • Complaints to corporate result in a fine for the hotel – based on the number of complaints received about a property (that corporate chooses to resolve).

    Here’s the schedule:

    (For hotels with more than 200 rooms, the number of free complaints go up as do the fines.)

    Complaints related to force majeure events and property policy must be answered by the property within 7 days.

    If everyone on a sports team or attending a wedding sends in a complaint that only counts as one complaint.

  • Free parking shall be provided. I imagine the New York City hotels (and other major city downtown properties must be excluded by exception).

  • You can have as many toiletries as you want.

    Additional complimentary toiletries shall be available on-site to guests, on request, 24 hours daily, free of charge. The following items, if not provided in guestrooms, shall be available at reception: razor, shaving foam, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, sanitary napkins (an acceptable solution is to offer sanitary napkins via a vending machine in a public restroom) and sewing kits.

  • Stephanie Rosenbloom writes in the New York Times that bath tubs are on their way out in hotel bathrooms… but apparently not at Best Western.

    All bathrooms shall provide a tub/shower combination of ceramic or other approved materials with a non-skid surface or device

  • About the television remote? “The remote control must not be attached to anything.” Glad we cleared that up!

  • A hotel is compensated for award nights by the chain at 30% of its average daily room rate (but in no case less than $30). If the hotel is 95% full, then award nights are compensated at 90% of the hotel’s average daily room rate.

  • Hotels used to only be required to make 2% of their rooms available for award redemption. In July 2011 that requirement was bumped up to 4%

  • Hotels are only fined for offering better rates outside of within 30 days of check-in.

The head of a loyalty program once called me ‘his WikiLeak’. If you have any other internal documents you’d like the gist of, distilled, please do share them.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Ill never stay at a Best Western again after reading this lol
    Of course I’d have to try one again to keep my promise
    I did stay in one 15 years ago and it was so gross I never went back to another one.
    I’m sure there is a decent one somewhere
    Interesting reading none the less

  2. Have used the chain abroad in England, Canada and Italy with no problem and also domestically. Sometimes they are in the right place at the right time. Never found a gross one yet.

  3. Only stayed in a few, but they’ve been perfectly nice. The one in Petaluma, CA is decent. And the one in Garberville, CA near the Avenue of the Redwoods is actually pretty great for a small town hotel. Sure its not a high end chain, but it doesn’t charge high end prices either. Happy to stay there again when warranted.

  4. I used to work at the Dept of Labor and investigated many a Best Western in my day. I would never stay at one just based upon what I saw there. Bleh.

  5. Certainly not my first choice, but I’ve stayed in the NYC BW South St Seaport and got a room with a balcony. Sitting out there with a beer and a river view was not at all a bad thing. The property was a bit tired and “basic”, but certainly livable and clean.

  6. Oh, also on the remote control thing, I’ve stayed at a motel once (long story) where the remote was attached by a cable to the night stand, presumably to deter theft. Similar to those setups they have in electronics stores with the cameras/phones/etc.

  7. Regarding “A hotel is compensated for award nights by the chain at 30% of its average daily room rate (but in no case less than $30). If the hotel is 95% full, then award nights are compensated at 90% of the hotel’s average daily room rate.” —-

    I hope that they don’t try to game the system like the folks at Parker Meridien allegedly tried in NYC…

  8. Haven’t been back to a Best Western in years since Jackson Hole, WY. Booked a hotel online based on pics, and what we actually received was a completely different hotel (they moved) that was a dump. Wrote to corporate and basically got a “tough sh*t” response. That was about 15 or so years ago. They lost a lot of biz from me.

  9. It is my impression that European (and possibly Asian) properties are much nicer then US properties. My wife and I spent 3 days in a property in Genoa, Italy this summer. It quite nice by non-luxary hotel standards. Free wifi, good breakfast, friendly staff, and clean facilities. I’d go back.

  10. I never stay at BW either, unless there is absolutely no other choice, which has happened to me a couple of times in the last 10+ years.

    I would be interested in this info for the better chains–Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, IHG…

  11. I’ve stayed at maybe a dozen BWs in the US (and several more overseas) and have found them all to be perfectly fine. In fact, the BW in Concordville, PA is one of the nicest non-city hotels I’ve ever stayed at, and they do a killer breakfast that is the best I’ve had at any chain outside of Asia. Others are maybe a bit older but definitely adequate for a decent night’s sleep.

    But I guess I’m not a spoiled brat when it comes to hotels like many FTers/MPers are. 😉

  12. Agree with the Jackal,s general comments.

    We stayed at BW journeying thru Texas and California, have to say they were all clean and comfortable and supplied decent breakfasts! I think the thing is that they do meet a certain standard that you can rely on with some of them naturally enough being better than others, but naturally enough the tariffs reflect that.

    I am surprised that they are not a chain as such , because a lot of them, had a standard or at least very similar layout with respects to the lobby, which I took as being part of the “branding”.

    Anyway to some of the people who seem a bit “precious” you would be surprised at some of the Best Western Plus located in / near downtown , they can be on par with some of the “better” chains

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