Meet Best Western's soft brand team for Canada

PHOENIX — Sean Shannon and Ralph Singer have joined Best Western in two newly-created positions. They will be looking for opportunities in Canada for the BW Premier Collection and BW Signature Collection. Shannon's territory includes Western Canada, while Singer is responsible for the eastern half of the country.

Sean Shannon, Western Canada.

Sean Shannon, Western Canada.

Shannon, who is based in Minneapolis, Minn., just started his new job as Western regional director of soft brands a few weeks ago, and has finished his orientation in Phoenix. He is delighted to be working in Western Canada as well as the western U.S., especially since he covered those areas at his past company, Carlson Rezidor (now Radisson), where he worked for 21 years following a career in hotel operations.

Singer, based in the Atlanta, Ga. area, joined Best Western in February as East Coast regional director of soft brands. He comes to Best Western from Choice, where he worked for 13 years as director of development for Cambria Suites; and as VP controlling the development of Comfort brands and Sleep Inn throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

“This is a brand new focus for Best Western and there are so many opportunities,” Shannon told CLN in an interview. “There are so many owners, or owner-developers in the Rocky Mountains, Banff and other places — so many iconic brands with a great presence.”

Both of these brands will allow an owner to maintain the individual identity of a hotel, yet still get the support of a globally recognized hotel brand with over 4,200 hotels in 100 countries, plus access to over 33 million Best Western Rewards loyalty members.

Ralph Singer, Eastern Canada.

Ralph Singer, Eastern Canada.

“The brands are something relatively new and different; something Best Western needed,” said Singer. “Canada has a large contingency of independent hotels — there are a lot of opportunities for us to go after.”

A key selling point is that owners don't have to make substantial changes — they can keep going, just adding the new services. Most of the time, if there's a good location and a well-maintained hotel, they don't have to spend $2.5 to $3.0 million on the property improvement program (PIP) that some brands require. 

Canada's BW Premier Collection hotels include: Toronto Airport Carlingview, Camrose Resort Casino in Camrose, Alta., The Water Tower Inn in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Prestige Oceanfront Resort in Victoria, B.C., and the Georgian Court in Vancouver.  Best Western is currently looking at another opportunity on Vancouver Island.

BW Premier Collection hotels are like soft branded Best Western Premiers, playing in the upscale or upper upscale or boutique hotel segments. They are generally iconic properties in primary or resort destinations, and are often, but not always, larger than 100 rooms, with significant food and beverage and large meeting spaces.

“The BW Premier Collection has really taken off; in less than two years, there are already 85 properties worldwide, and another several in the pipe, including 24 in North America and a few in Canada,” said Singer. “The hotels are great properties ranging from castles, to golf resorts and country hotels.

“With Premier, we pay for play — this means we only charge for reservations we deliver — that's unique in the industry.”

BW Signature Collection properties are usually under 100 rooms, and operate in the upper midscale segment, with a location and style similar to Best Western Plus properties. They can be in primary or secondary markets, and usually have meeting facilities.

While most hotel brands are steering away from two-storey properties with exterior corridors, if they are outfitted right, and in the right location, Best Western will take a look at them, Singer said.

Canada doesn't have any BW Signature Collection hotels… yet. The challenge is that many hotels in this segment are already branded. Both Shannon and Singer are confident that now that Best Western is focusing on these soft brands, there will be many opportunities.

“We're looking at a couple of properties in Ottawa, one in Quebec and one in Mississauga, plus a property in Fredericton, N.B,” Singer said. 

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