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The never-ending challenges of hotel brand management have only become more involved as the hotel industry has consolidated, competition among hotel brands has become stiffer, and consumers’ expectations continue to rise. Needless to say, any brand that fails to continually evolve risks being left behind, because an experience or hotel feature that exceeds guest expectations today may be commonplace tomorrow and sub-par not long afterward.1 Competition among hotel brands is often seen as a race, but more often, it resembles a treadmill. One brand’s product enhancements may give it a momentary advantage, but competitors can quickly expand their own product and service offerings. Thus, a brand needs to improve just to stay in the game. One aspect of the upgraded services is the need for continual property upgrades that may require substantial investment. Brand managers typically need to justify these expenditures for property owners since having uniform compliance is necessary to maintain brand consistency. As we explain in this article, the process of determining and justifying brand standards has greater complexity for brands that comprise membership or referral associations. Whereas most hotel brands are working with institutional owners, Best Western International is working with its membership, who are owner-operators. In fact, however, the knowledge-driven process we describe here can be applied by any brand system to select and create a business case for any possible upgrades.


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