Making guests feel comfortable traveling again has been a top priority for Wyndham Hotel Group in the months since the outbreak of the pandemic and the company feels its efforts are beginning to pay off.
Speaking recently at “ALIS Law 6×8: Recovery Top of Mind,” Paul Cash, general counsel & corporate secretary, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, explained why the Parsippany, NJ-based brand company—which boasts some 20 brands from La Quinta to Days Inn and more than 9,000 hotels—is optimistic.
“We are a leisure-oriented drive-to portfolio. Over 70 percent of our business is leisure oriented and we’re seeing a lot of pent-up travel demand. Road trippers are venturing out and we certainly see a higher confidence level in the safety of drive-to travel; people want to hit the road,” he said.
Cash also noted the company’s “everyday business traveler,” which largely consists of infrastructure, construction and logistics workers who are often required to travel, are “still hitting the road in mass.”
Cash detailed some of the company’s more recent efforts when it comes to guest safety, beginning with Count On Us, a multi-faceted program which implemented a number of best practices that are line with CDC guidance and AHLA safety protocols.
“Our mantra was ‘you can Count On Us to put safety first.’ We launched this new program that was really designed to build confidence among guests knowing how critical that was going to be to get them to come back and stay at our hotels and support our owners,” said Cash.
Some of the steps taken as part of the program include additional supply chain support to make sure necessary materials, like masks and hand sanitizer, were delivered on time, as well as adopting new standards.
Cash pointed out those new standards resulted in what the company calls “higher touch areas” and he elaborated on exactly what that entails.
“We could clean more frequently. When you check in at the front desk you’re going to get disinfectant wipes with your key card. You’re going to see social cues on the floors of the common areas. When you get to your room you’ll see a hand sanitizer bottle. There are social cues to inspire confidence to let everybody know we’re thinking about this all the time,” he said.
Cash also noted that Wyndham also partnered with Ecolab for the highest quality materials to clean the common areas and has rolled out its new high impact, low contact mobile app designed to facilitate mobile check-in and check-out across all of its hotels.
Cash offered some advice to hoteliers trying to compete in challenging conditions.
“Hold rate if you can. History has shown that discounting in a low-demand environment is not always successful,” he said, recommending that hoteliers utilize revenue management to “optimize rate.”
Cash later added, “We can not forget the importance of hospitality. Confidence and peace of mind in the booking process are the number one purchase drivers for guests right now. They need to see the safety protocols, flexible booking policies, and they need to be with a brand they can trust. You can’t forget customer service and that hospitality focus,” he concluded.