Wyndham is Making its Mark

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The Trademark Hotel Collection is WHG’s newest soft-brand concept, a first for its upper-midscale-and-above segment.

Q&A with Lisa Borromeo Checchio

This past June Wyndham Hotel Group (WHG) announced the launch of a new independent concept for upper-midscale-and-above hoteliers: The Trademark Hotel Collection. The collection becomes WHG’s 19th hotel brand, positioned among the company’s smart and stylish brands alongside TRYP by Wyndham and the company’s newly acquired Dazzler and Esplendor brands, which embody boutique and lifestyle travel experiences.

Today’s Hotelier spoke with Lisa Checchio, vice president of brand marketing and insights, to learn more about the collection, soft brands and what sets it apart.

Trademark is being launched as a soft brand. Tell us about this strategy, soft brands’ growth in the market and why these types of brands are becoming so popular, especially among independent hoteliers.  Demand for soft brands has grown at a rate of nearly 20 percent in the last several years, but only in the upscale and luxury hotel segments. Nothing existed for hoteliers in the upper-midscale market, the largest chain scale in the U.S., representing 18 percent of all hotel rooms. WHG saw a void in options available for hoteliers who operate landmark, signature upper-midscale hotels, so we created one for them. The Trademark Hotel Collection is the next step in our mission to flip the script on traditional expectations for the industry, abandoning the notion that only luxury hoteliers can maintain independence in the hospitality landscape and broadening the scope of a soft brand.

Tell us about the background, R&D and what went into developing the brand thus far.
Our marketing, development and operations team combined forces to create an entirely new concept responding to the needs of today’s hotelier. We heard directly from owners and developers that there was a need in the industry for a soft brand option for upper-midscale hotel owners. Because of our size and expertise in the segment, WHG is the only hotel company positioned to champion owners who have made their own mark. We chose the name Trademark because it is a symbol of character, an emblem of individuality. It signifies a uniqueness that can’t be replicated. It’s the perfect name to inspire this collection of distinct hotels with characters all their own and the hoteliers who made it happen.

What business strategies (and possible advantages) come into play in terms of switching from an independent property to a soft-branded property?
For hoteliers, Trademark is a smart choice because of WHG’s incredible unmatched scale and the power behind our number-one loyalty program. Hoteliers have the opportunity to take advantage of distribution and scale in a way that is appropriate to their businesses. Trademark owners will be able to participate in Wyndham Rewards, with a growing base of more than 50 million members who are part of the No. 1 loyalty program (according to U.S. News & World Report); gain significant cross-selling opportunities; take advantage of WHG’s buying power; operate under flexible brand standards; and rely on experienced global sales, marketing and operational teams.

Entering the upper-midscale-and-above segment is new for Wyndham. Can you share with us a little bit about the company’s strategy behind entering this segment?
There’s nothing like Trademark. This collection targets an untapped pool of hoteliers across the upper-midscale segment and above. Trademark hotels rank among WHG’s upper midscale and lifestyle options – our smart and stylish brands – including TRYP by Wyndham, Dazzler and Esplendor.

What types of properties would make a good fit to be converted into Trademark properties? And if beginning as new construction, can you share what that ideal property looks like (if starting from scratch)?
The Trademark collection is a global brand made up of hotels that are landmark features of their communities, signature local names or historic destinations. Hotels are located in primary and secondary urban markets as well as resort destinations. Just as no two travelers are alike, Trademark hotels are equally distinctive.

If a hotelier has a property they’ve been thinking about converting, why would Trademark be a good consideration for them?
Trademark hotels have the power of WHG behind them, amplifying their already powerful stories. This independent concept is designed for savvy and autonomous owners who seek independence on their terms, have made a name for their hotels, and take pride in their independent spirit but also seek competitive advantages that come with the scale, distribution and award-winning loyalty of WHG. With more than 8,000 hotels around the world, no one can match our power of scale or our loyalty program with a base of more than 50 million rewards members who keep coming back to our hotels.

Even though the concept of Trademark is to tap into the individuality of each location/hotelier’s vision, what underlying factors will tie them all together (e.g., any semblance of brand/uniform standards)?
While every hotel will look and feel a bit different, we are very specific about the types of hotels that are the right fit for Trademark. These are independent, historic or signature hotels in the 3–4 star range with a dining outlet in a trending travel market.

This concept was built for entrepreneurs who have made their mark and are looking for the right partner behind the scenes, so the hotel owner will drive the design and character of the hotel.

So Trademark stands for “making your own mark,” and Wyndham said it’s for “independent entrepreneurs who aren’t afraid to make their own mark.” Tell us about this strategy and what you envision this meaning from both a business, design and operational standpoint for each location.
Built on the principle that travel is deeply personal, the collection of landmark, independent hotels will enable hoteliers to define their own independence. Every hotel in The Trademark Hotel Collection will be a partnership between the hotelier and WHG. Owners will continue to operate their already successful hotels, but with the powerful support of Wyndham’s teams behind them. Owners can work with us to determine a relationship that works for their operational needs while maintaining the unique spirit of their hotel.

What is the growth strategy in terms of both U.S. locations and expanding worldwide?
We envision the collection to span global urban and resort destinations in the top travel markets, along with those bucket-list destinations with romantic history or quirky charm.

In five to 10 years, what does the Trademark brand and its growth look like?
Trademark has sparked immense interest from the industry. At this time we have more than 50 hotels in the global pipeline and don’t expect to slow down anytime soon.

Tell us about Wyndham and AAHOA’s partnership and what this could mean for the Trademark brand.
Trademark isn’t just another brand: it’s a rally cry for fiercely independent entrepreneurs who aren’t afraid to make their own mark and hold tight to their spirit of individuality. It’s also our way of advocating for hoteliers who are looking for support from the world’s largest hotel company. WHG has a long-standing partnership with AAHOA; it remains one of the strongest relationships in the hospitality industry. We recognize the strength of the hoteliers who are part of this esteemed organization and welcome any independent owners operating upper-midscale hotels to explore what The Trademark Hotel Collection can offer. ■

Lisa Borromeo Checchio, Trademark brand champion and vice president of brand marketing and insights for Wyndham Hotel Group.

SNAPSHOT
Category: Upper-midscale and above
Target: Independent, historic or signature hotels
Location: 
Primary and secondary markets; 
urban and resort destinations
Geography: Global
Rating: 3.0 to 4.0
Amenities: 
Flexible F&B (usually with a restaurant or lounge); flexible fitness room (and/or access to local gym); flexible meeting spaces; interior corridors
Target: ADR $150+
Comp Set: Ascend, Tapestry

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