Companies

We want to bring the right brand to the right market: Wyndham Hotels

Nivedita Ganguly Recently in Las Vegas | Updated on October 09, 2013 Published on October 07, 2013

Eric Danziger, President and CEO, Wyndham Hotel Group

International hospitality major Wyndham Hotel Group, which currently has 689 properties, is keen to expand its 15 distinct brands across the world. Though Asia-Pacific (APAC) represents the largest region for the group’s operations outside the US, President and CEO Eric Danziger is keen to shore up the group’s India offerings from 17 hotels to 70, within the next five years, increasing inventory to 8,000 rooms from the current 1,800 rooms. In a tete-a-tete with Business Line, Danziger says the focus has clearly shifted to emerging markets like India.

Wyndham Hotel Group, a part of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, has expanded on a large scale in Asia. What are the expansion plans for India?

We have been in India for several years. We have our Ramada brand here. Around 18 months ago, I signed a deal for 30 Howard Johnson hotels in India. The opening of the first Howard Johnson is in October.

I believe the largest opportunity in India is in the mid-scale segment. I think there will be many more Howard Johnsons and mid-scale brands than the others. We also have products in the upper upscale segment with the Wyndham Grand. All our expansions in India are under the franchise model.

Why are you expanding in India at a time when the hotel industry is facing economic slowdown?

The industry runs in cycles. If you wait for the cycle to be good, then you will be opening hotels just in time for it to be bad. The industry strategy should be a long-term view.

If you have the right product for the right people, then you have a good investment. If we don’t feel the hotel is successful, we tell the owner. India is a big country and there is plenty of room for good hotels.

Every seven years, there is a down cycle of three to four years. This pattern has never changed and never will. Hotel companies and owners should plan for it because the down cycle is going to come and they should be able to recover as fast as they can with other market segments.

With so many international hospitality brands expanding in India, how challenging is the market? What is your competitive advantage?

For the longest time in India, there were either five-star hotels being built or not-very-good ones. The situation has changed now and we are excited about it. Brands like our Howard Johnson product or Ramada are products for the masses.

We have 15 brands in our portfolio and each caters to different needs. For India, we want to bring the right brand to the right market to address it. In fact, India is the second most important market for us after China in the APAC region.

I believe that there is nothing like competitive advantage, there are only competitors. And even when the market is down, there are people staying in a hotel at every street corner. Go and get them. Make your hotel the better choice for them, so that they stay with you.

What kind of challenges do you face in India?

The Government has to get out of the way, in a sense. It takes more permits and a longer time to complete a hotel in India than in any other part of the world. The other thing which I hope India continues to work on is in infrastructure development. For the hotel business to grow, this is a very crucial factor.

> nivedita.ganguly@thehindu.co.in



(This correspondent was in Las Vegas on the invitation of the Wyndham Hotel Group)

Published on October 07, 2013
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