A strong domestic traveler size, increased spending power and better access to an improving road and infrastructure is encouraging the hospitality sector in India. Eric Danziger, Group President and CEO,Wyndham Hotel shares the expansion plans of the brand in India in an interview.
Pallavi Majha (PM): Wyndham Hotel Group a part of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation has expanded at a large scale in Asia last year with six hotels openings in China and another seven under construction. Kindly elaborate on Groups’ expansion plans in India.
Eric Danziger (ED): Yes, we continue to strengthen Wyndham Hotel Group’s position in Asia as the largest US-based hotel company in China with 301 hotels under the Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Ramada®, Howard Johnson®, Days Inn® and Super 8® brands. Our Super 8 brand maintains its dominant position in China with 189 hotels in China alone.
Wyndham Hotel Group has 11 Ramada branded hotels in India, with several others in the pipeline.
India is currently undergoing accelerated hotel development activity and as a multinational hospitality company, and continues to be on the radar for Wyndham Hotel Group because of its growth potential. We now have an office in Gurgaon. Wyndham Hotel Group has 9 Ramada branded hotels in India, with several others in the pipeline. We expect debut of the Wyndham New Delhi Dwarka, scheduled to open in April 2011.
PM: The Group has recently announced the signing of a franchise agreement to open its first property in India. What was the motivating force behind opting for franchise route? How do you think franchising can be of great help for expansion and successful growth of the company?
ED: Our franchising business is designed to generate revenues for our hotel owners through the delivery of room night bookings to the hotel, the promotion of brand awareness among the consumer base, global sales efforts, ensuring guest satisfaction and providing outstanding customer service to our customers.
Wyndham Hotel Group’s portfolio of global, widely recognised brands is supported by an infrastructure designed to help our franchisees and managed properties achieve their goals. As a franchisor, we grant the use of our iconic brand names and offer a range of services including training, quality assurance, guest satisfaction programs, marketing, revenue management, loyalty program, global sales, and reservation systems’ support. Owners of independent hotels increasingly have been affiliating their hotels with international lodging franchise brands as a means to remain competitive.
PM: With so many international hospitality brands expanding in India, how do you think challenging it will be to grow in India? What according to you is the USP of the brand?
ED: The potential of the Indian hospitality industry is largely untapped and the development of hotels has been revolving around metro cities and key tourist circuits. As newer destinations and micro-markets evolve, many global hotel chains are formulating the right strategy for this key market. A strong domestic traveler size, increased spending power and better access to an improving road and infrastructure will foresee the significant rise of the hospitality sector in India.
PM: What all services and facilities does Wyndham Hotel Group provide?
ED: Our lodging business is the world’s largest hotel company (based on number of properties), franchising in the upscale, midscale, economy and extended stay segments of the lodging industry and also providing hotel management services for full-service hotels globally.
Wyndham Hotel Group offers a range of services including training, quality assurance, guest satisfaction programs, marketing, revenue management, loyalty program, global sales, and reservation systems’ support. Globally, we intend to drive bookings through online channels by redesigning all of our brand websites to improve the consumer shopping experience.
PM: Please elaborate on your franchise tie up with Tirupati Buildings & Offices Pvt. Ltd?
ED: We are delighted to work with Subhash Dabas, owner of Tirupati Buildings & Offices Pvt. Ltd, to open the first Wyndham hotel in India in a growing market like New Delhi and hope that the new Wyndham New Delhi Dwarka will be benefit by Wyndham’s global distribution system, large global sales organisation and marketing and loyalty programs, including the Wyndham brand’s Wyndham By Request recognition program. The proposed business for the hotel is a mix of corporate and high end leisure. Keeping in mind our large conference facilities, there will be a strong focus on MICE.
PM: Wyndham Hotel Group has entered into an agreement with Chatwal Hotels & Resorts, LLC, gaining exclusive rights to franchise and manage its Dream and Night boutique hotel brands globally. Please elaborate.
ED: This agreement will certainly complement our diverse brand portfolio which focuses on meeting guest needs with a hotel product for every kind of traveler with our selection of nearly 7,200 hotels throughout the world. We are proud to collaborate with Sant Singh Chatwal, an innovative hotelier and entrepreneur for our expansion plans. Dream and Night hotels currently are open in New York; Bangkok, Thailand; and Cochin, India. We will look at both existing conversions and new builds globally in key gateway cities to grow these brands. We look forward to additional openings this year in Miami Beach, Fla., New York City and South Asia.
PM: What kind of investment is required in terms of money and area requirement to take up the franchise of Wyndham Hotels?
ED: Costs may vary by brand but they are based on initial franchise fees, which relate to services provided to assist a franchised hotel to open for business under one of our brands as well as an initial fee paid with the franchise application; and ongoing franchise fees, which are comprised of royalty fees, marketing, reservation and other related fees for the use of the brand’s name, logo, identity, procedures, controls and systems.