HOTELS Interview: Wyndham’s new Asia Pacific director

Wyndham Worldwide Corp., Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey, has greatly expanded its hotel portfolio in Asia Pacific to about 500 properties from just 50 four years ago.

As it looks to expand further via management contracts for its higher end brands, the company has appointed Frank Trampert as managing director, Asia Pacific at Wyndham Hotel Group. Born and raised in Germany, Trampert worked for years in the Asia Pacific region for Carlson, Minnetonka, Minnesota, in executive positions before serving as president of social media analytics company Brand Karma by

To find out more about how Trampert plans to grow Wyndham’s portfolio in Asia Pacific, HOTELS sat down with him for a chat at the 2012 Wyndham Hotel Group Global Conference held this week in Las Vegas.

HOTELS: What are Wyndham’s plans in Asia Pacific?

Frank Trampert: Wyndham is focused on the hotel business and building up the managed portfolio of hotels. That is a critical decision for Asia as it is an important part of growth, to be able to control your own destiny to bring quality to your operations.

As China, India and the rest of Asia Pacific is growing, with the GDP varying around 8% to 9%, more and more people will need to travel. We are already present with 490 hotels. We grew the business from 50 to about 500 hotels over the last four years — we’d like to grow to over 5,000.

We are involved in the hospitality training schools in Asia Pacific. We want to be very strongly engaged in the community and strong player in that market.

Today we are not as well known in Asia but that will change. We have some very wonderful hotels that we will open up. We are a strong player but will be a stronger.

Frank Trampert <br> </br>
Frank Trampert

HOTELS: Are there any countries in particular that Wyndham targeting for expansion?

Trampert: Firstly, our initial focus over the years has been China, that’s why the strongest presence is there. There is lots of room to build hotels there.

India is a place we have hotels today. We have a strong operation by our sister company Wyndham Vacations in the Australia and Pacific Islands market and there are more opportunities there as well.

We are looking at all of Southeast Asia, in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia. Myanmar just opened up, I think that could be an incredible place to do business.

There are about 15 countries in Asia where I would say we will be having more representation.

HOTELS: What are the strengths and weaknesses of Wyndham’s Asia Pacific portfolio?

Trampert: The biggest strength of portfolio is the infrastructure we can provide as a global player. If you look to Europe or the U.S. we have strong operations there to offer potential owners in Asia looking for distribution in those markets.

Our biggest weakness is that our portfolio is mostly franchise.

We want to create value for our shareholders and to be in a position to be a good manager by becoming a true hotel company, not just a franchise company. We have 15 brands, and those are well positioned. We have been traditionally focused on economy and midscale. There is tremendous opportunity in Asia Pacific in the midscale range.

HOTELS: What strategies are you planning to use to expand in Asia Pacific given the intense competition from the other big boys of hotel management?

Trampert: What we want is to do is partner with the right parties, and in China for example, the involvement of the government is a critical aspect of growth. So we would like to strengthen our relationship with the government — we have made good strides in establishing that. That certainly is a key strategy.

The other element of growth is to supply the right talent so you can open these hotels and so we have started early discussions on how we can improve our brands’ recognition and as well our relationships with schools and universities so you can have a stronger supply of future associates to help us grow the brands.

Wyndham is the leader I would say in transferring our knowledge to your hotels in Asia more than we have done in the past. Our hotels there are very good but I feel we have room for growth.

The company has heavily invested over the last couple years in technology, as technology is very important to execute well in Asia. You need localization, you need different languages in order to really effectively communicate. It is millions of dollars that have been put into place for this and we’re about halfway through, we just redid all our brand websites to be very modern, very forward-looking and there’s more to come.