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Wyndham Worldwide has something not many other major hotel players have — a global vacation rental business — and it plans to use it to its advantage by opening it up to its Wyndham Rewards loyalty members.
On Oct. 26, the company announced it was making 17,000 accommodations from its vacation rental and timeshare businesses eligible for free stays through its Wyndham Rewards loyalty program, giving members the ability to redeem their points at a total of 25,000 different homes, condos, and hotels worldwide.
Tying all three of Wyndham’s business units together, CEO Stephen Holmes said, was Wyndham Rewards, which he likened to “a blue thread that runs through all of our businesses. That is something that we think will drive value to all business units and that is a powerful, powerful product.”
Wyndham’s Participation in the Sharing Economy
Whereas Wyndham’s peers such as Marriott and soon, Hilton, have spun or plan to spin off their timeshare businesses and do not operate any vacation rental businesses, Wyndham is different, and its participation in the sharing economy, Holmes says, is also unique.
“Between our timeshare exchange and vacation rental offerings, Wyndham Destination Network is a major player in the sharing economy,” Holmes said during a third-quarter earnings call. “But unlike the big online marketplaces, our model goes well beyond linking supply and demand. As the world’s largest provider of professionally private accommodations, we connect travelers seeking the authenticity of homestay with owners looking to rent their property. We offer both a range of services — we offer both of these groups a range of services to ensure a smooth expense.”
Unlike following the Airbnb or HomeAway style of offering short-term rentals, Wyndham has adopted a different approach — even if it sometimes uses those channels to advertise listings as Wyndham Vacation Rentals CEO Gail Mandel told Skift earlier this year.
Wyndham’s model, in fact, more closely mirrors the type of model adopted by China’s Tujia, Airbnb’s rival in China, as well as those of some other alternative accommodations providers like Oasis and onefinestay, which have been invested in or purchased by AccorHotels.
In a somewhat similar vein, Choice Hotels has also formed a partnership with a timeshare company and recently started promoting its vacation rental business, however it pursues both by working with partners.
If anything, Holmes’ comments point to the fact that Wyndham, like AccorHotels and Choice Hotels, to a point, is pursuing a growth strategy that brings the sharing economy into the fold, instead of operating outside of it, and it’ll be interesting to see how the company evolves that strategy going forward.