5 minutes with… Daniel Ruff, Wyndham Hotel Group’s president and managing director, EMEA
What were the hotel group’s key achievements and milestones in 2015?
2015 was a real milestone year for Wyndham Hotel Group with the launch of Wyndham Rewards in April. We turned the traditional loyalty programme on its head, and are proud to say that dollar for dollar, Wyndham Rewards allows members to earn more and redeem faster than any other program in the industry today. It’s the first major rewards program of its kind to offer a flat 15,000-point free night redemption rate, and the only program in the industry to offer a minimum of 1,000 points with every qualified stay. We built on its success with the launch of go meet in the second half of the year; a bespoke programme for meeting planners within Wyndham Rewards. So it was a big year for us!
What have been the key challenges facing a) your hotel group b) the hospitality sector in general and how have you met these challenges?
Challenges facing the industry are constantly evolving, but we remain agile as a group in order to continue to grow with our partners. Globally we have hotels in destinations which have experienced political unease or unrest in the last few years, including some in the MENA region, but as leaders in in both domestic and international tourism we are able to react and adapt accordingly to remain well insulated.
What are the hotel group’s key goals for 2016 for activities in the MENA region?
We’ve got a bright outlook for 2016 and beyond, and it’s already shaping up to be an exciting year. We’ve already introduced four new managed Ramada properties in the region this year and have a great pipeline in MENA over the next few years. Many of our brands still grow steadily through conversion, but we’re also aiming to meet an increasing demand for new build properties by signing multi-unit deals this year. With the strength of our impressive development behind us, we plan on building our portfolio into an even larger number of destinations across the MENA region over the coming months and years. We’re reaching out far and wide entering destinations before they become the trend. The rising middle class in several parts of the Middle East has given us the opportunity to cater to their needs with our midscale properties, so we’ll be focusing resource on these brands in the near future. Our ambitious growth is showing no signs of stopping!
How is technology dictating the way you run your business and liaise with customers?
We are rolling-out Sabre’s best-in-class, cloud-based SynXis Property Manager and Central Reservations solution alongside an automated revenue management tool powered by Infor’s EzLITE. This allows our hotels to more effectively manage pricing and inventory, connect to an unmatched number of global distribution partners, utilise a broad array of currency and language capabilities and access customer information tied to Wyndham Rewards. This is a huge competitive advantage, particularly in the economy/midscale space, and allows us to deliver seamless, memorable experiences and consistency to guests while offering revolutionary solutions to owners.