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PHOENIX – Best Western International Inc. announced on Friday that its board of directors has elected Dilipkumar 'Danny' Patel as board chairman.
Patel is the owner of the Best Western Hawkinsville Inn & Suites in Hawkinsville, Georgia and the Best Western Plus Bradbury Inn & Suites in Waycross, Georgia.
What's truly unusual about this chain is that it has a system-wide governance structure in which its franchised hotel owner-operators collectively lead and direct the Best Western brand worldwide.
"Having a board of directors comprised of current hotel operators ensures Best Western is focused on the current and future opportunities our hotel owners face," said Best Western President and CEO David Kong. "Danny's diverse experience makes him an ideal board chair for 2014."
Best Western is sort of a parliament of franchisees, a cooperative of 2,200 hotel owner-operator members who simply want to bring great lodging experiences to travelers. Proof of their acumen in leading their brand to reach customers better than competitors is long – for example this year alone the hotel brand was awarded Brand Key's highest customer loyalty among its peers in mid-scale hotels. It received Gartner's 1to1 Media Gold award for pioneering practices in social and mobile engagement. It received TravelClick's eMarketer of the year award. And more.
With 4,000-plus hotels, Best Western is the world's largest chain under a single brand name.
What is its secret recipe to such brand success? Putting its hotel owner-operators in charge. "At Best Western, our hoteliers – not stockholders – define the future of our brand," says Dilipkumar Patel to Blue MauMau. The chairman adds that leading a representative form of corporate governance isn't always easy, but it has advantages. "Leveraging the thoughts and opinions of 2,200 hotel owners in North America can take time, but the results are always well thought out and supported by the membership," he says.
Patel has more than 25 years of hospitality experience. A Best Western member for more than 17 years, he has served the brand as a governor and a member of the Design Advisory Committee. He has also served as a chairman for the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) and a director on the board of the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association. Patel is an expert in all facets of the hospitality industry, including acquisition, construction, planning, development, design, management, and finance.
With the 1990 purchase of his first hotel in Montezuma, Ga., Patel launched Peach State Hospitality, the hotel development and management company of which he remains CEO. Peach State has developed 32 branded and independent hotels in Georgia and Alabama, with Mr. Patel serving as general contractor for most of the projects.
Jay Patel, board director for Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas, was elected board vice chair for 2014. Director Terry Porter, who represents Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, will serve as board secretary-treasurer.
Rounding out the board of directors are hotel owner-operators Beth Campbell, Anthony Klok, Julie Montmaneix and James Cosgrove.