“We plan to have 50 operational hotels in India by 2019”

India is an integral part of Wyndham Hotel Group’s global growth strategy. With a total of 36 operational hotels in the Eurasia region, 28 hotels are located in India. We speak to Deepika Arora, Regional Vice President – Eurasia, Wyndham Hotel Group on her strategies to have 50 operational hotels in the region by 2019.

Wyndham Hotel Group is in the midst of a strategic transformation focusing on brand, technology and marketing. With a global portfolio of more than 8,000 hotels and over 697,600 rooms in 77 countries across 18 brands, it is the world’s largest hotel company based on the number of hotels. The blue thread that ties them all together is Wyndham Rewards, the richest and simplest rewards programme in the business.

India is an integral part of Wyndham Hotel Group’s global growth strategy. “Currently there are a total of 36 operational hotels in the Eurasia region. Out of these, 28 hotels are located in India. Recently, we have launched Ramada, Ramada Encore, Howard Johnson and Days Inn in India and we are ready to further expand our footprint. Around 75 per cent of the portfolio in India is Ramada because it has been the most visible brand. In the next two years we hope to augment the growth with the introduction of namesake brands such as ‘Wyndham Garden’ and ‘Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham’”, says Arora.

The growth and development strategy at Wyndham Hotel Group is bold yet simple. To work with local partners for quality accommodation, diverse locations, including those where very few international brands are ready to tread.

Edited excerpts:

What is the USP of the group?
Wyndham Hotel Group is a hospitality powerhouse with over 8000 hotels in 77 countries. With a portfolio of hotels under 18 brands that span from luxury to economy, we are uniquely positioned to provide more travel choices with a focus on the everyday traveller and simple reward programmes.

Are you looking at expanding in tier 2 cities in India?
Our presence spans across the length and breadth of the country including the metro cities of Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Chennai; tier 2 and 3 cities like Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Jamshedpur and Panipat, and key leisure destinations such as Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Kochi and Varanasi. As per our development strategy, we look to provide global connectivity and brand recognition with further expansion into secondary and tertiary cities. We would soon be opening hotels in tier 2 cities such as Trivandrum, Jammu, Dehradun and Ghaziabad and leisure destinations such as Darjeeling, Lonavala and Kasauli.

So are you planning to roll out any special offers for these cities?
As part of our global transformation, Wyndham Hotel Group is constantly innovating and researching to ensure the guest experience is unparalleled.

Do you operate on franchise model? What do you offer as standard operating procedure?
Globally, Wyndham Hotel Group both manages hotels itself and franchises its brands to hotel owners. However, in India, we have largely grown through the franchise model. We are happy to work with partners on a franchised or managed basis, depending on their business model and market of operations and what makes sense for the individual partnerships. In the franchise model, we define the basic brand standards to franchisees so that the general look and feel is maintained. However, in some cases where the situation so demands, we do allow for certain customization to cater to the local requirements or market dynamics, while at the same time ensuring that the brand essence remains intact. Our biggest priority continues to be supporting our franchisees and providing them with tools to attract and retain customers. We maintain very strict quality standards at WHG and expect our franchisees to uphold the mantle on behalf of the brand.

Can the standards be customised as per the needs of the franchise?
While franchisees need to adhere to the defined brand standards, we do give them flexibility to innovate to suit the market need. That does not mean that we allow cutting corners, but at times we customise the standards to meet the consumers’ and the owners’ desires and requirements, while ensuring that the brand essence remains intact.

Is the franchise model profitable? How much is earned through it?
As per our franchise model, we get a royalty for our trademarks. We also get a fee for the marketing support which we give to the owners. This includes access to online distribution platforms, the global sales network and brand marketing initiatives.

Do your hotels follow sustainable measures?
Wyndham Worldwide is constantly exploring and creating innovative sustainable practices through its Wyndham Green program, which focuses on sustainability across the Group. The programme enhances customers’ lives by improving the environment, supporting global and local communities, and developing sustainable programmes such as Energy Conservation; Water Conservation; Education; Recycle and Reuse; Community; Innovations. In India, we have translated Wyndham Hotel Group’s philosophy of ‘work locally and act locally’ by supporting diverse causes from health (Pinkathon) and culture (Sangeet Milon), as well as women empowerment (RAHAB).

What have you planned for the coming months?
Wyndham Hotel Group has recently undergone brand transformation. We will continue to expand our presence in Tier 2 cities and aim to stay ahead of the trends.

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