Industry NewsFranchisee Focused: Insights and Updates From Wyndham's 2023 Global Conference

Franchisee Focused: Insights and Updates From Wyndham’s 2023 Global Conference

After a four-year hiatus from its Global Conference, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts welcomed franchisees back with its 2023 event this week. Hosted at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, the event is the company’s largest to date with plenty of updates on global development, service offerings, and portfolio performance. Wyndham’s newest company initiatives—both an owner and guest engagement platform—are a core essential for the franchisees in attendance. With an overarching theme of “Opening Doors,” the reunion-like atmosphere shows the camaraderie throughout the conference.

Community-focused Offerings

Wyndham Community, the new owner engagement platform, was conceptualized as a response to some of the things franchisees were asking for. Scott Strickland, chief information officer, described how Wyndham began a journey to transition and standardize its web platforms into one software. Enter Salesforce, and from that investment, Wyndham Community was eventually brought to fruition. 

Launched among franchisees two weeks prior, Wyndham Community had 12,000 views on its first day and has since been generating around 18,000 views per day ever since. Strickland said, “We are entirely software-as-a-service in the cloud across all applications, which means we don’t have an infrastructure. We’re not in the data center game. We’re not in the technology game. We just made bets on big players to provide that functionality for us.”

As a mobile-facing software, it’s designed with ease of use in mind for franchisees to quickly access information and data concerning their properties directly on their phone. Lisa Checchio, chief marketing officer, said, “Our hope with Community is that it becomes our franchisees’ daily habit. So, the same way you wake up in the morning, you check the weather, you maybe go to your Google search, you check your favorite news outlet. We want Community to be that daily habit. They wake up. They check it first thing in the morning. They can see what sales leads are waiting for them. They can see if they have any action items from their field teams.”

In addition, Wyndham’s field operations teams, revenue managers, and sellers are using the exact same interface, which includes identical information franchisees have for cross-communication between stakeholders. Strickland explained the shared interface as being “a lot more transparent” and “allows the conversations to be that much more productive.”

Checchio and Stickland agreed that franchisees are enjoying the Wyndham Community user interface because it’s easy to use, but it’s also gamified, which can encourage owner partners to increase their numbers seeing how they are ranked against others. As for future-proofing, it’s been designed so that there are some operations and payments that have to be made on the platform in some capacity. However, Strickland noted Salesforce will continue to play a pivotal role in growing Wyndham Community based on usage patterns.

Through Wyndham Community, franchisees can access information from Wyndham University and RevIQ, to name a couple. But Wyndham also offers access to a variety of other services either for free or for a low cost. Many of these services aren’t mandated, which is in line with Wyndham’s franchisee model. Geoff Ballotti, president and CEO, described these services as part of The Wyndham Advantage. Franchisees can choose to opt into a program by seeing its viability in driving incremental revenue.

Ballotti shared that most franchisees choose to participate in the offered programs based on their value add, but that Wyndham won’t get the entire franchisee community to participate in something based on their individual needs and wants for their properties. Ballotti said, “Every owner’s different. Every owner’s unique in terms of the market they’re in. But I think the best way for any of these owners and for the brands to measure return is at the end of the day, how’s the brand performing against its competitive set? Is it performing against fair market share?”

Concerning the guest engagement platform, Wyndham worked over the past few years to assess exactly what franchisees want in their tech and marketing stacks. Those trends ranged from mobile tipping to electric vehicle charging. The 82 collective ideas were pared down to seven top trends that are being executed through the guest engagement platform. What’s being offered in the final product is AI messaging, mobile check-in, upselling opportunities, mobile check-out, and much more to come when the platform rolls out.

Where They’ve Been and Where They’re Going

In addition to the announcements of both engagement platforms, Wyndham executives reflected on what has changed for the company since its last convention. Of note, five brands have been introduced and developed throughout the global portfolio, including Echo Suites Extended Stay by Wyndham and Registry Collection Hotels. Specifically, 12 brands have been introduced into the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. Wyndham Rewards has also grown significantly, hitting over 100,000 members with nearly one in every two check-ins at Wyndham’s domestic properties being a member. And, Wyndham is now in the all-inclusive and luxury segments.

But while so much has changed, Wyndham’s core mission and work remains the same. Ballotti added, “Our focus is really select-service, economy, midscale, upper midscale, and having the best brands that investors want to invest in. We want to make sure in those segments, all of our brands are outperforming their competitive sets.”

Robin McLaughlin
Robin McLaughlin
Robin McLaughlin is digital editor of LODGING.