Wyndham Hotel Group is shaking up several of its brands as the company seeks to modernize and contemporize them to better appeal to today’s aesthetic and current consumer trends. But they’re walking the wire to also ensure they don’t ostracize current clientele. It’s a bold but much needed move to keep these brands relevant to multiple generations of travelers
Announced last week at Wyndham’s Global Conference, CEO Eric Danziger is taking the approach these changes need to be made, but they are not being done in a vacuum. And every proposed change must be made relevant to the consumer while also providing an operating income boost for hotel owners. Expect other Wyndham owned brands to get refreshed too in coming years.
“I absolutely hate brand standards except to the extent they are supported by the proposition of getting more people [to stay] at higher rates. One of the biggest beef owners have is they say [brand executives] stay in ivory towers and make the owners pay for changes that do not make sense. We don't put in things that do not have a return on investment and in fact we froze standards four years ago,” said Danzinger.
“This is not about what is new but what the customers wants. We are trying to be eminently fair and respectful to owners instead of having a list of things to do [for the sake of doing them],” added Danziger. “Our job should be to celebrate and grow iconic brands and leverage the Wyndham Hotel Group.
That’s an approach owners love as during the last decade many have become increasingly uncomfortable with hotel brands adding standards that are all glitz and lack a definitive ROI. In the last couple of years major hotel brands seem to be realizing that not only have hotel owners had enough of spending but also that customers simply do not care for many of the gewgaws hoteliers have been forced to include in recent years.
These days brand executives are realizing the key to differentiation is great customer service, smart design that meshes well with the category the hotel fits into and a few signature differentiators. Oh yeah, and good WiFi service and plenty of outlets too.
So here is what you can expect to see!
The iconic brand is getting the biggest makeover of them all as it is reinventing the brand to look to appeal to both older and younger demographics. So the change here has to make brand fans happy while also appealing to more discriminating younger travelers.
Expect big changes such as the just introduced logo that is more modern yet nostalgic, property design, case goods to signature amenities and service for the 60 year old brand, said Danziger.
“Howard Johnsons is part of Americana so we have to do something exciting. The redo is relevant to the future while acknowledging its past. We hope to convert most hotels to new look in a reasonably smart way for cost. We don't want it to be where people can't afford to make the switch,” said Danziger who said the plans are the results of two years of planning and focus group feedback.
There is also a new service training initiative and the new brand should officially be ready to go by early 2015. A new construction prototype is also expected to be available in the coming years too.
Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham
The brand is getting a new prototype that executives say won’t break the bank.
Among the changes introduced by the prototype: a more spacious and open lobby featuring a new front desk design, increased seating
and communal work spaces; the addition of a Micro mart option, offering for-purchase snacks, light meals, soft drinks and sundries; a smartly designed flex room for meetings or additional breakfast seating
: and a new, centrally located, walk-up business center.
In the guestroom, key changes include the availability of three new distinct color schemes; a new furniture package; a redesigned guest bathroom with contemporary vanities; and a new, more efficient wet-bar design in suites.
Exterior designs for the new prototype feature more subtle changes and maintain a look and feel consistent to that of existing Microtel properties. In doing so, current owners have the ability to seamlessly retrofit the new design to their existing hotel. The cost to build the newly enhanced prototype remains neutral to that of the previous prototype.
“Since its inception, the Microtel name has been synonymous with quality, consistency and efficiency,” said Patrick Breen, Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham brand SVP, in a press release. “This new prototype is an essential evolutionary step in maintaining that reputation, while positioning the brand to appeal to a broader base of consumers and developers.”
The brand is launching Dayfit, a program designed to target health-conscious travelers by offering enhanced fitness facilities and healthier breakfast options at hotels nationwide.
“In the last decade, public interest in health and wellness has really taken off and for those that are passionate about it, it’s an essential part of their daily routine,” said Clyde Guinn, Days Inn brand President. “Always looking for ways to enhance and improve the guest experience, this is a natural fit for Days Inn and one that will help further differentiate the brand from others in an increasingly crowded and competitive segment.”
Designed to offer guests better choice and nutritional value, enhancements to the brand’s existing Daybreak Breakfast include specially marked Dayfit healthy breakfast items like assorted Dannon Light & Fit® yogurts and Quaker® Oats Oatmeal Hearty Kettle with an assortment of toppings such as raisins, granola and light brown sugar. Properties also have the option of carrying a standard hot item, a low-calorie cheese omelet, providing guests with an additional source of protein. These items are in addition to traditional offerings such as name brand coffees, teas, juices, cereals, fruits and breads.
Developed by Precor®, a leading worldwide fitness equipment provider, the Dayfit fitness center is custom designed for Days Inn properties and is scalable depending on the needs of each hotel and market. Standard items at every center will include a low-impact treadmill, elliptical cross trainer, stretching mat, stability ball, water cooler, and medicine balls in a variety of weights. Properties will also have the option of adding equipment such as recumbent bikes, adjustable benches and multi-functional fitness trainers.
Fitness rooms can be created by taking one guestroom out of service to convert. The newly enhanced Daybreak breakfast with Dayfit healthy breakfast items will be standard at nearly all Days Inn hotels throughout the U.S. and Canada. Dayfit fitness centers are expected to be available at most Days Inn hotels and standard at properties that don’t have a swimming pool.
Travelodge is getting a new room and lobby designs along with its first-ever signature breakfast item, the Travelodge Bear Claw.
“As one of the world’s most well-known economy hotel brands, we’re constantly looking for ways to enable our hotel owners to provide consumers with an even better hotel experience, and do so in a way that is not only cost effective but ultimately helps drive greater revenues for hotels,” said Mark Young, Travelodge brand SVP. “With both our new room and lobby designs, as well as our signature breakfast item, we believe we’re well on our way to accomplishing that.”
Created with the intention of staying true to the Travelodge brand’s west coast heritage while offering a hint of adventure and modern sensibility, the new room and lobby designs were developed in response to requests from current Travelodge owners looking to renovate and enhance their existing properties. Features in both designs include natural woods, rich leather textures, sandstone flooring and seasonal color pallets, all in an effort to create a comfortable retreat for guests. Use of the designs by owners when renovating is optional and available at a cost of $2,000 per room inclusive of case goods and soft goods.
The Travelodge Bear Claw, tested in multiple markets over this past summer and offered in two flavors (apple streusel and cream cheese), provides hotel owners with a high-quality breakfast item that, in addition to complimenting the brand’s signature Bear Bites breakfast, ties-in perfectly with its Sleepy Bear mascot. Although not a required offering at every hotel, the Travelodge Bear Claw is expected to be widely adopted by properties, thanks in part to its low cost and positive consumer feedback.