Wyndham is one of the largest hospitality brands in the world, yet in Europe, and in the UK, it is less well known than competitors such as Marriott, Hilton and IHG. It has more than 705,700 rooms in 8,100 hotels throughout 79 countries spread across 20 brands. These brands include Wyndham, Ramada, Days Inn and Super 8, as well, as confusingly for a UK audience, Travelodge, though this is a completely different entity from the brand that has over 500 properties in the UK.
I spoke with Wyndham’s regional vice present for Europe, Patrick Divall, who is responsible for over 150 hotels in Europe including Ramada, Wyndham, Days Inn and Tryp.
You came from Starwood, which was always very strong on brands. What’s your aim with Wyndham in Europe?
“We currently have 20 brands across our portfolio, but in the UK we have only Days Inn, Ramada and Ramada Encore. We think they are well established in the market, yet there’s still room for growth, and we could possibly add two or three more brands. One is the new Trademark Hotel Collection, which we launched in 2017 and has over 50 hotels operating in EMEA, and Tryp by Wyndham, which is a great midscale brand; very urban, powered by the city, quite design-led with energy in the public areas and nice designs in the rooms.
Strange that one of your best-known brands is Travelodge?
Yes, we own Travelodge in the US but it’s a completely separate entity in the UK.
Ramada is probably your best-known brand here.
Yes, worldwide we have around 850 in more than 60 countries and it’s one of the most recognised hotel brands globally. We have over 30 in the UK and continue to expand, not only with Ramada but also with Ramada Encore. Ramada sits in the upper midscale and the ethos we use is for our guests to “sample the world”, experiencing both the destination that they’re in and other places where we have Ramadas. We are also working on three different concept rooms for the new Ramada design. Part of that is an oversize artwork, which is a word search highlighting the location you are in but also other locations.
The Ramada Encores are in locations such as Leicester, Newcastle, Bournemouth and Belfast. They are mid-scale, a smart choice for travellers, aimed at the corporate market, but with a modern contemporary look with wooden flooring and the bathroom in a glass pod in the room.
And then there’s Days Inn.
Yes, we have 40 in the UK. It’s an economy brand, a fresh burst of energy, very bright and simple and clean. Free wifi and breakfast and a great bed.
No Dolce Hotels here yet?
No, but they are strong across Europe and are very focussed on meeting and incentive travel. Wyndham purchased the brand in 2015 and now has 20 properties, six of which are in EMEA. At the end of last year we launched a meeting and incentive programme called Trails of Discovery, which is a localised programme for each one of our hotels in Europe where we have partnered with a local blogger or influencer to come up with an exciting or personalised experience for people who want time out of the hotel. At the Dolce CampoReal Lisboa in Portugal, for instance, it’s Portuguese fitness and lifestyle blogger Vanessa Martins. She has created a journey through the Torres Vedras region, which is the former summer retreat of the Portuguese royal family.
Wyndham Rewards seems to have very little popularity here.
Well, it has 53 million members and the UK is one of our stronger markets. We have four different levels – blue, gold, platinum and diamond – and we listened to customers who said most programmes were too complicated, so we have simplified it. You earn a minimum of 1,000 points per stay, and to redeem a night’s stay costs 15,000 points no matter which property. We thought that people might earn in the economy hotels and burn in the upscale ones but that hasn’t happened. Guests consume their points where they want to go and it’s more to do with whether they feel comfortable with the brand. There are no black-out periods, although obviously locations like Paris, London and Amsterdam are very popular.
In addition, members can also redeem in the Wyndham Destination Network, which adds another 17,000 condominiums, homes and cottages and includes our brands James Villa Holidays and Cottages.com.