Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has unveiled BOLD by Wyndham, a program designed to advance more Black entrepreneurs on their path to hotel ownership. The program was announced at the opening day of the National Association of Black Hotels, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD) 2022 Summit in Miami on July 13.
The acronym BOLD stands for Black Owners and Lodging Developers. The program is designed to expand awareness for the unique challenges faced by black entrepreneurs while using the scale and resources of Wyndham to help address those challenges and increase the number of black hoteliers. In addition, this program promotes hotel ownership as a vehicle for potential wealth creation.
The statement issued by Wyndham introduced Vaughn Irons, a principal of Stonecrest Resorts outside of Atlanta, as the inaugural member of BOLD by Wyndham. He was awarded a new construction of 110-room Tryp by Wyndham franchise in Stonecrest, Georgia, part of a US$17 million adaptive reuse project, Priví, transforming The Mall at Stonecrest into a family entertainment and lifestyle destination.
“The ultimate goal is to support black entrepreneurs down a path towards hotel ownership,” Galen Barrett, vice president, Strategic Development, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, told HOTELS. “We work with entrepreneurs every day and understand the kinds of benefits and the ways that this can be life changing. We frankly just want to be committed to finding black entrepreneurs, promoting hotel ownership to that community, and helping to partner with them to solve problems towards hotel ownership. Our goal truly is to advance black entrepreneurs towards ownership.”
NABHOOD reports that black employment in the hotel industry represents nearly 20% of all employees, but fewer than 2% of hotel owners are black. Meanwhile, McKinsey reports 20% of black Americans are starting or currently running businesses—more than any other ethnic group.
This new program is designed to tackle a range of challenges that black people face in hotel ownership – from learning the world of hotel entrepreneurship to getting a better response from banks, brokers and developers. These paths are defined in the BOLD announcement as “laying the foundation” and “accelerating the path to ownership.”
“The benefits of franchise ownership are so clear. Yet there is a community that didn’t grow up knowing how franchising works, specifically as it relates to a company like ours in an industry like ours,” Barrett said. “We generally know what different kinds of franchises are. But when we go and talk to our family and members of our community, they have no real reference point for understanding the specific details of how the industry works. It’s one of the facets of our program that we call ‘laying the foundation.’ It’s specifically going out there to say: ‘here’s how it works. Here’s the way the industry works. And here’s how you can participate.’”
For accelerating the path toward ownership, Barrett said they interviewed black entrepreneurs, even those who already own hotels, to discuss the unique difficulties they face.
“They describe roadblocks like brokers who won’t return their calls, or lenders who didn’t take them as credible. We think there’s an opportunity for using the resources of Wyndham and our connections, to bridge those gaps. We can make those connections,” he said. “We want to find individuals who have already thought about hotel ownership and ask them to apply to our incubator program. If they’re qualified by us, we want to directly connect them with hotel brokers and lenders who are already in the space so that we can matchmake and find a way to give opportunities on real projects.”
Barret added that BOLD will be modeled after another Wyndham program called, Women Own the Room, which targets women’s advancement in hotel ownership. This initiative has resulted in more than a dozen women owning Wyndham hotel brands.