Talking soft brands: Philippe Bijaoui, Wyndham Hotel Group

BHN talks to Philippe Bijaoui, chief development officer EMEA for Wyndham Hotel Group, about the company’s new Trademark Collection soft brand.

• Describe the Trademark brand.
“The Trademark Hotel Collection is a soft-branded collection for hoteliers who want to keep the independent spirit of their hotels while taking advantage of Wyndham Hotel Group’s scale, services, global distribution and loyalty programme. Designed for upper-midscale-and-above independent hotels, the collection includes hotels which seek to maintain an independent spirit backed by a powerful partnership with the world’s largest hotel company.”

• What is the guest profile that Trademark attracts?
“Just as no two travellers are alike, Trademark hotels are equally distinctive, and this collection of independent hotels enables guests to experience their chosen destination on their own terms. Trademark attracts guests who value their individuality and want to express this through travel with personal and authentic experiences outside the existing luxury options, but with the high-quality service of an internationally-recognised brand.”
• Why has Wyndham launched Trademark into the independent hotel space now?
“Demand for soft brands has grown in the last few years, and as such we saw an opportunity to expand our portfolio while advocating for upper-midscale independent hoteliers with no existing soft brand options available to them. We heard directly from owners and developers that there was a need in the industry for a soft brand option for upper-midscale hotel owners, and launching a soft brand that supports independent hoteliers was a logical step in our quest to ensure there is a Wyndham hotel for every traveller.”
• What differentiates Trademark from the other soft hotel brands such as Marriott’s Autograph Collection?
“This collection targets an untapped pool of hoteliers across the upper-midscale segment and above who take pride in their independent spirit but who also seek the competitive advantages that come with being part of the world’s largest hotel company. Trademark hotels have the power of Wyndham Hotel Group behind them, including its unmatched scale, a wide array of services and our world-class loyalty programme.”

• What are the benefits to the hotel owner?
“With more than 8,300 hotels around the world, no one can match our power of scale and our loyalty programme, which has a base of more than 53 million members who keep coming back to our hotels. In addition, for hoteliers Trademark is a smart choice because they have the opportunity to take advantage of our distribution channels, our global sales and revenue management systems, as well as our international digital marketing team. They also gain significant cross-selling opportunities, as Wyndham Hotel Group’s hotels are distributed through 10,000+ affiliate partners and in global call centres handling more than 9 million calls annually.”

“Member hotels can take advantage of Wyndham Hotel Group’s buying power with negotiated OTA rates and a mix-shift in reservations away from third-party intermediaries toward Wyndham Rewards and other direct channels including website and call centres. They can als operate under flexible brand standards for individual properties based on minimum Trip Advisor levels, and rely on Wyndham Hotel Group’s experienced global sales, marketing and operational teams, making this more cost-effective and accessible as a standalone property.”

• What have you learnt since launching Trademark?
“The creation and launch of the Trademark Collection was a major milestone of 2017 for Wyndham Hotel Group. We are proud to have launched more than 50 hotels across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, as well as six hotels in the US. The Trademark Collection is the industry’s first soft-branded collection of upper-midscale and above hotels, and we have since learnt what a demand there was among independent hotel owners to be part of a larger group such as this. So far it has been a very rewarding educational experience to run a soft brand, but as we already support nearly 5,000 franchise owners across our portfolio of brands, we are no stranger to the independent spirit of entrepreneurship and felt this was a natural step in our transformative mission to make travel accessible for all.”

• What are your target number of affiliations, and which regions are you expecting to deliver strongest pipeline growth?
“Our immediate focus is on developing the brand in distinctive markets where travellers want to be. But our main priority is to find the right partners, right hotels and locations. We are actively working with a number of individual owners and large developers all over the world who represent the personality of the Trademark Hotel Collection. We already have more than 50 hotels operating under the Trademark Collection brand in EMEA, and our focus is to on-board interested owners of both existing hotels and new construction opportunities in top urban markets around the world.”

• What challenges do you foresee for Trademark and the hotel industry in the future?
“In our first few months, we have set a high bar to add hotels, which truly represent the individuality and personality the Trademark Hotel Collection stands for, so this is a key focus for the future, to maintain this and surpass it. More broadly, the hospitality industry is showing a strong growth potential, and as more people travel the world, it’s crucial that we continue to evolve and be ready to meet the rapidly changing expectations of tomorrow’s travellers.”

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