Most people accumulate a great many skills when working in the hotel industry, but Danica Boyd has taken having a well-rounded background to the next level. Boyd, who currently leads Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ Wyndham Garden brand, has pretty much done it all throughout her nearly 20 years with Wyndham, starting with the company during its Cendant days. She’s overseen operations, content, marketing, brand services, franchise services, and training, just to name a few. Boyd says that her career’s variety has served her extremely well professionally, and prepared her to meet and conquer new challenges, not just because she has a breadth of knowledge, but because of the people she met along the way. “Jumping from operations to marketing to technology and back helped me grow. It also afforded me far more networking opportunities than I might have had if I had just stayed on the same trajectory,” Boyd describes.
“What I think have I taken to heart over the last few years is knowing how to really look at people on your team and make sure they’re buying into a project and what it takes to complete it. Understanding the big picture has been essential for our successes.”
Boyd says that there has been one through-line, though, as she’s moved through these positions—her management style. She refers to it as “the three Cs”: collaboration, communication, and celebration. “I’m highly collaborative, and I like to communicate what’s going on each step of the way. I also think it’s important the celebrate the milestones behind a project or goal.” Boyd maintains that leading across an organization—as opposed to managing up or down—is a significant challenge. “What I think have I taken to heart over the last few years is knowing how to really look at people on your team and make sure they’re buying into a project and what it takes to complete it. Understanding the big picture has been essential for our successes.”
Boyd’s advice to women who wish to advance in the industry is, in a word, “network,” the sooner the better. She says she’s “a proud graduate of group 2” of the Castell Project—an organization dedicated to accelerating the careers of women professionals in the hospitality industry, which, she says, gave her the opportunity to meet other leaders across the industry. She also urges the younger generation of female leaders to get outside their comfort zone. “If you are an operations leader, lean into sales—learn about how to sell the hotel or learn about global selling. If you are a finance person, reach across the HR and learn about the people side of the business.”
She’s also quick to mention the mentors who influenced her growth along the way. Boyd recalls Shelly DeMarco, the assistant general manager in her first job out of college at a large resort in the Poconos. “Shelly embodied the qualities I have always valued and sought to emulate— dedication, communication, collaboration skills, and just working hard. She was a leader we all admired—everyone went to her for solutions.” She also gave a “shout out” to Craig Wilson, who hired her and did a bit of a zigzag himself. “He took a chance on a small-town girl back in 2000 and never tried to stifle me. Although he left Cendant to join La Quinta, we always stayed in touch; and when Wyndham acquired La Quinta, we were thrilled when we became colleagues again.”
Brand Leader, Wyndham Garden
TIME WITH WYNDHAM
FIRST HOTEL INDUSTRY JOB
Cleaning rooms and checking in guests at a bed-and-breakfast during high school
Good WiFi, a firm/plump pillow, and good hot coffee
WHAT SHE NEVER LEAVES HOME WITHOUT
Keys and a smile
WHAT SHE WANTED TO BE WHEN SHE GREW UP
“As you think, so shall you be.” – Bruce Lee
Now, Boyd is laser focused on her latest role—helming the Wyndham Garden brand. “It has been Wyndham’s fastest-growing brand for the last four years and we’re not slowing down,” she says. To capitalize on this growth, the brand has introduced a new design prototype, “Arbor.” The new prototype, she says, aims to redefine the upper-midscale space by continuing to invest in owners’ success while also emphasizing that “the Garden provides tranquility and ease and that ‘one with nature’ for our guests.” The prototype includes a new branded food and beverage concept created by celebrity chef Jet Tila, who has been on Chopped, Iron Chef, and Cutthroat Kitchen.
Boyd does note, though, that leading the Wyndham Garden brand is a bit different than her past experiences because so much has changed since her early years in the industry—especially since the advent of social media. “The biggest change has really boiled down to what I call transparency, with ratings and reviews immediately available online.” Because guests can now shop for a hotel room via online platforms, she warns, hoteliers need to be aware of the impact a disgruntled guest’s TripAdvisor review can have on business and take such feedback to heart. “I know I’m reading reviews while shopping online or choosing a restaurant. That’s affected almost every industry. As a result, we’ve had to get smarter and really make sure we’re taking care of our guests.” However, she says, given that the greater need to offer personalized customer service in the hospitality industry is something that will never change, she regards this new transparency standard as a positive thing.
What also has not changed, she says, is what she loves most about the hospitality business—the people side. “Interacting with our guests, and taking care of our employees who are taking care of our guests is what it’s about. Being kind and friendly and hospitable is just the common core of what we do and what we should be doing. That’s what invigorates me and is where my passion really lies.”