Skift Take

Wyndham Hotel Group wants to revamp its brand design and experience as it gears up to go public. A good brand is a terrible thing to waste.

When you think of Wyndham Worldwide, what comes to mind?

As the company gears up to spin off of its managed vacation rental business, separating Wyndham Hotel Group from Wyndham Vacation Ownership and Wyndham Destination Network, growing the group’s hotel portfolio would be the primary goal.

“I don’t think that everybody realizes that when they hear Wyndham that we’re 8,400 hotels in 80 countries around the world,” said Geoff Ballotti, president and CEO of Wyndham Hotel Group, at the Skift Global Forum 2017 in New York City in September. “We’re the world’s largest operator of hotels, and it is our own logical expansion to become a public company with 20 brands… it will allow us to do a lot of things as a public company that we otherwise could not have done as part of a much bigger company in terms of growth.”

The result of the spin-off, if Wyndham finds a buyer for its vacation rental business, would be two public companies, namely a hotel company, and another combining vacation rentals and timeshares.

There remains, however, the perception that Wyndham isn’t the coolest hotel company in the market, even if it has nearly two-dozen brands operating around the world. It could be that operating so many economy brands has given the company a certain reputation, especially when many of those brands have been around for more than half a century.

Instead of chasing trends, though, Wyndham is willing to explore what travelers seem to really want: reliable service and comfortable lodgings. There is also the opportunity of partnering with talented designers and local industries to give hotel brands that have been around for decades a decidedly contemporary spin that resonates with younger consumers who may not have an established relationship with a brand.

“Millennials appreciate great design,” said Ballotti. “If we can find a design firm that used to only work on luxury and only work on a renovation, [but get them to design a more affordable brand experience for consumers], it’s amazing what these design firms can do… it’s not unsexy, it’s not uncool, and we’re doing that for each and every one of our brands.

“It takes a long time to build brands to scale, but when you have brands that have been around for a long time, since the 1920s, and you add that element of great design and great experience, it’s powerful.”

Watch the entire interview above, and find more coverage of Skift Global Forum here.

At this year’s Skift Global Forum in New York City, travel leaders from around the world gathered for two days of inspiration, information, and conversation. There were interviews, panel discussions, and solo TED-like talks on the future of travel.

Visit our Skift Global Forum site for more details about 2018 events.

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Tags: sgf2017, skift global forum, video, wyndham

Photo credit: Wyndham Hotel Group president and CEO Geoff Ballotti at the Skift Global Forum 2017 in New York City in September. Skift

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