Speaking to LODGING at The Lodging Conference in Phoenix prior to the company’s official announcement, Geoff Ballotti, president and CEO, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, discussed the company’s launch of its 22nd brand, Wyndham Alltra. This is Wyndham’s first brand dedicated to the all-inclusive resort space and is the result of a strategic alliance with Playa Hotels & Resorts, a partnership Ballotti says is mutually beneficial in that it provides leisure travelers with a branded upper-midscale all-inclusive option while growing its own Wyndham Rewards base in return for offering Playa access to Wyndham’s scale, distribution, services, and loyalty program. Wyndham is launching the brand with two beachfront resorts—the Wyndham Alltra Cancun and the Wyndham Alltra Playa del Carmen.
What was behind the decision to add another leisure brand to the Wyndham portfolio?
While we don’t yet know when business travel will recover, leisure travel is at all-time record highs, and we feel this demand will continue, especially now that the work environment has changed to the extent that more people are able to combine travel and work.
We had entered the luxury market with our 21st brand, the Registry Collection, but were looking for opportunities to offer the everyday traveler outstanding all-inclusive hotel experiences outside of the current upscale and luxury options. With a branded all-inclusive resort, we could offer these travelers to the Caribbean the sense of security and reliability conferred by a brand as opposed to the unknowns of an unbranded resort.
What was your goal in bringing together Playa and Wyndham in particular?
First, we were not looking to own or manage these resorts, but rather to work with the right developer to license the Wyndham all-inclusive brand. We had also identified potential opportunities in markets like the Caribbean that might make great Windham resorts. With that in mind, we reached out to Playa Hotels & Resorts CEO Bruce Wardinski, a 35-year veteran we already knew. We were impressed with what Playa was doing in the upper-midscale space, and knew they had a strong development team headed by Fernando Mulet.
So, first our two development teams got together and decided to move forward. Then our marketing team, headed by our Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Checchio, came up with the name Alltra, which played off the term “all-inclusive.”
It promised to be a win-win strategic partnership. Playa is an established owner, operator, and developer of all-inclusive resorts in prime beachfront locations in popular vacation destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, so it offered years of all-inclusive resort operating expertise and relationships with globally recognized hospitality brands, plus experience building direct relationships to improve customer acquisition cost and drive repeat business. In them, we saw an opportunity to provide our nearly 90 million rewards members with an all-inclusive option in exchange for the ability to take advantage of Wyndham’s scale, distribution, services, and loyalty program.
What’s next for your distribution platform in terms of its evolution and advancement?
Our customer data platform is something that will continue to evolve. We have already proven that economy and midscale travelers want the same thing the upper-upscale ones want—the ability to earn enough points to take their family on vacation, whether it’s to Disney, Clearwater Beach, or the Caribbean. Now, it’s a matter of finding new travelers of various descriptions—millennials, Gen X, Y, Z, and Baby Boomers—and converting those who are not already Wyndham Rewards members. They may not remember all 22 of our brands; they just need to know they are connected by Wyndham Rewards.
What can you tell us about these first two resorts under the Alltra brand?
The first two resorts to debut under the Wyndham Alltra brand are Playa’s 458-room Wyndham Alltra Cancun and the 287-room Wyndham Alltra Playa del Carmen. Currently undergoing renovations, both resorts remain open and are scheduled to complete renovations and become Wyndham Alltra resorts in time for the holidays in December.