Wyndham Hotel & Resorts recently announced further expansion plans across the Asia Pacific region, attributing success there during a robust 2021 and continued strength for 2022 as it works toward a goal of reaching 2,000 hotels in the region by 2025.
In Asia Pacific alone, Wyndham added 120 new hotels and signed 200 properties in 2021 as part of an international net room growth of 4%. Wyndham China direct franchising business led the way with double-digit net room growth. Across Asia Pacific, Wyndham now has more than 1,600 hotels in 20 regional markets.
Greater China was the source of an expanded footprint, with more than 100 hotel openings, including the Wyndham Garden Hangzhou Yuhang in Hangzhou, a science and technology hub. Expansion also came within Vietnam and Thailand, the latter of which recently had four openings belonging to the same owner.
Moving southwards to Australasia, another important strategic market of Wyndham, the company had four openings across several brands in Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch and Hervey Bay. Making its debut in Wellington, the opening of marked Wyndham’s first hotel in the capital of New Zealand.
Joon Aun Ooi, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts president, Asia Pacific, spoke with HOTELS about what has sparked this dynamic growth.
HOTELS: Is your Asia Pacific pipeline all franchise deals, or are you taking management in any case?
Joon Aun Ooi: It’s a mix. While our primary focus is on franchising, we continue to pursue management opportunities in scenarios where it makes sense for both us and a hotel’s owner. More than ever, the challenges of the pandemic have underscored the importance of hotels being affiliated with established, globally known brands, and that’s driving increased interest in our offerings, a trend we expect to continue throughout 2022 as hotels look to further their recovery.
H: Are you putting in any key money or equity into these deals to get them across the finish line?
JAO: We have a number of tools that we leverage to get deals across the line. That said, we take an individualized approach with each hotel and owner to understand what’s right for them and what’s right for Wyndham. More than anything, it’s the strength of the Wyndham name, paired with our strong value proposition and our owner-first approach to franchising, that continues attracting developers to our growing portfolio of brands.
H: Are you finding any conversions in Asia Pacific, or primarily new builds?
JAO: Approximately a third of our deals signed last year in APAC were conversions, with many coming from other international brands. In 2022 and beyond, we believe conversions will continue to be a key part of our continued growth. Globally, our year-over-year net room growth was up 3% in the first quarter of this year, with China leading the way with double-digit growth.
H: How delayed are projects based on supply chain and labor issues?
JAO: Given the prolonged state of the pandemic, it was inevitable that some projects would be delayed due to supply chain and labor shortage constraints. Where possible, we’ve worked to assist developers to help them prepare for and mitigate these challenges. At the end of the day, we remain confident that our strong development pipeline will be able to mitigate the aftershocks from these disruptions and continue to deliver quality openings for both owners and guests.
H: Are these new owners or existing owners coming back for more Wyndham Hotels?
JAO: In 2021, a strong percentage of our signings — over 20% — were with existing owners. This trend is a testament to the trust that our owners have in Wyndham and our 22, soon to be 23, brand portfolio. We’re also seeing our fair share of multi-hotel deals. For example, in Thailand, we recently opened four new hotels in the heart of Bangkok, all with the same owner.
H: Is this level of development meeting, beating or below expectations, especially considering the pandemic?
JAO: Definitely above expectations. Over the last two years, Wyndham has performed incredibly well in spite of the challenges created by the global pandemic. We were one of the top performers in APAC, opening more than 120 new hotels and signing over 200 properties. With 1,600 hotels now open across the region, we remain on track toward our goal of 2,000 hotels by 2025.
H: How is Wyndham performing in the region and when will it get back to pre-pandemic levels?
JAO: In the first quarter of 2022, we observed some encouraging trends in APAC with more and more markets relaxing their entry requirements. While it remains early days to make any pointed predictions, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and are hopeful that the recovery of tourism will continue to gain momentum, buoyed by strong pent-up travel demand.
What’s more, when China’s borders reopen, the pace of recovery will be accelerated, driven by a resurgence of Chinese outbound travelers to many countries across APAC. For Wyndham, given our strong presence in the region, especially in China, we are well-positioned to capitalize on this anticipated upswing.
H: Is any market particularly more fertile than others, and why?
JAO: Every market is unique. Knowing that, we strive to embrace the cultural diversities that can be found across APAC while fulfilling our mission of making hotel travel possible for all. We’re fortunate to have a strong on-the-ground presence by our development team throughout the region, including cities like Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, Jakarta, Bangkok, Hanoi, Seoul, Sydney and more. That presence allows us to be thoughtful in approach while making sure we’re getting our brands in front of the right owners and operators.