Best Western set to check in for its ‘best year ever’

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YORK-based hotel chain Best Western reported “green shoots” of recovery in the hotel sector yesterday, as it delivered an increase in half-year turnover.

Best Western said it was on course for its “best year ever” after a 16 per cent rise in corporate bookings helped it to post strong results.

Tim Wade, the hotel group’s director of marketing, said turnover from April 1 to October 31 this year was more than £50m, which was around 16 per cent higher than the same period last year.

The independent hotel group believes a number of initiatives, including the introduction of free internet access across its portfolio of hotels, have helped to restore market confidence.

The group’s leisure sales have risen by 15 per cent on the same period last year.

However, Best Western said it was the growth in corporate business that had underpinned the sales increase across the group’s 279 member hotels.

In Yorkshire, the group has 25 hotels which employ around 119 staff.

Mr Wade said: “We’ve invested in the Best Western brand and that’s paying dividends.

“Things are looking positive for 2012, with forward bookings for January higher than the year before. We are stealing market share from our rivals.”

Richard Lewis, Best Western’s chief executive, said: “We believe this success is due to corporate travellers looking for hotels that offer value as well as high quality and personal service. Plus we have invested heavily in the marketing of the group.

“We have seen both agency and direct customer sales increase. We have also seen an increase in loyalty with sales from our Best Western Rewards customers alone up 18 per cent, the best results ever for our loyalty scheme.”

Thursday arrivals at the hotel group were up 20 per cent on the same period last year, which suggests more visitors are choosing to stay for longer weekends.

The group also reported increases in Sunday night leisure bookings.

Mr Lewis added: “The financial results are extremely encouraging for everyone involved with Best Western.”

Last year, as part of its promotional blitz, Best Western started advertising on television for the first time. It also launched a social networking campaign and relaunched its website.

In 2010, Best Western joined forces with Visit England to promote the rebrand to the 600,000 people on its database who are interested in travel.

It marked the start of the campaign by dressing its head office as a circus tent with clowns and ringmaster.

Best Western has properties across the UK, including country manors, castles and coaching inns.