LAS VEGAS—Wyndham Hotel Group unveiled early details and designs around its reinvigoration project for Howard Johnson, a multi-year undertaking focused on elevating the overall guest experience by revitalizing all aspects of the brand—from property design and case goods to signature amenities and service.
Announced at Wyndham Hotel Group’s 2013 Global Conference held in Las Vegas, the project, which is backed by a significant investment in consumer research, represents the start of the next chapter in the brand’s nearly 60-year lodging history.
“Howard Johnson is a brand that for millions of travelers conjures fond memories of ice cream cones and family vacations,” said Wyndham Hotel Group President and CEO Eric Danziger. “It’s a name that carries with it incredible equity. Reinvigoration is about growing the brand and restoring it to its rightful place within the industry by inspiring that same type of brand loyalty and affinity from a new generation of consumers.”
As part of the unveiling, the brand shared conceptual interior and exterior designs that will begin appearing at yet-to-be-announced test locations throughout the U.S. as early as the end of next year. Best described as clean, fresh, fun and timeless, the designs showcase a new Howard Johnson that while modern in look and feel, offers a nod to its past. As an example, the brand is looking at ways to bring select flavors of ice cream back as a signature offering at all of its hotels.
Also unveiled were early details around a new service training initiative that will launch as part of the larger project, an effort the brand believes will play an integral role shaping the overall guest experience at hotels.
Said Danziger, “The goal is to create a consistent, outstanding product that exceeds guest expectations at all levels. To get there, great design is only one half of the equation, you need great service too.”
Once tested and refined, the brand expects U.S. franchisees to have the opportunity to join the new Howard Johnson as early as 2015, provided a property has completed the necessary improvements, which are expected to vary from property to property. A new construction prototype is also expected to be available in the coming years.
Costs to join the new Howard Johnson are anticipated to be available prior to rollout, with the expectation that they will be competitive with other brands in the lower end of the midscale segment. The transition of the brand’s full portfolio to the new Howard Johnson—which will see the phasing out of the brands tiers, including Howard Johnson Inn, Howard Johnson Express Inn and Howard Johnson Plaza, among other changes—is expected to be a multi-year process.