While many hotel companies trying to figure out ways of expanding into China, Wyndham is taking a different approach.
The US hotel company, which has more than 7,000 hotels worldwide, is already the biggest international hotel group in mainland China, with more than 540 properties operating in the country. And Wyndham is now looking to expand its range of brands across the Asian region, building on its success in China.
Speaking to Travel Daily earlier today (24 October 2013) at the recently-opened Ramada Singapore at Zhongshan Park, Wyndham’s executive vice president and managing director, Duane Elledge, said the company is looking to build its range of existing brands in Asia, including Ramada, Days Inn and Howard Johnson, as well as bringing new brands into the marketplace.
“[We have] 106 Ramadas in Asia, and half of those are in mainland China. We also have 63 Days Inn hotels, only one of which is outside China. But we’ve got a new Days [Inn] being built in Phuket and we’re looking at some opportunities in Vietnam, and potentially another one in Thailand as well,” revealed Elledge.
He added that he sees “life in the market” in Malaysia, and recently signed the first four Howard Johnson’s in Indonesia.
“Currently we only have seven of our 15 brands operating in Asia, but we’re planning to bring other brands into the market. Tryp by Wyndham is coming to China, bringing a Latin flair, boutique kind of vibe that we think the Chinese consumer will relate to. We’re also looking to bring in the Hawthorn Suites brand, which we feel can compete with serviced apartment concepts like Shama and Fraser Suites in the longer-stay market,” he added.
Within China, Elledge said the company is still currently focused bringing more three- and four-star brands to central and eastern parts of the country.
“[China has] a huge population of middle class consumers and we think the Howard Johnson, Ramada or Tryp by Wyndham will play better in this space. We’re looking at more second and third tier cities,” he said. “We’re also waiting to see what the government does with western China. If the government makes decisions to allocate funds to develop infrastructure in the west, which it looks like they will, we’ll be right there with our Ramada brand.”
Elledge said he had “met a lot of mayors in a lot of towns” in China, doing presentations and introducing Wyndham’s brands to new Chinese markets.
And the Chinese strategy also extends to other countries, with Elledge explaining that the increasing Chinese out bound market is helping to boost brand awareness among mainland consumers.
“There are about 83 million Chinese travelling outbound right now, and because we’re such a global company, these consumers are starting to relate to our brands. They see our brands in the US and in Europe, and when they come back they recognise our brands even more,” he said.
This is also likely to help the company attract the surging number of overseas Chinese guests visiting nearby Asian countries, such as Thailand or Vietnam. In this sense, Wyndham’s early-mover advantage in China appears to offering rich rewards.