Bahrain Confidential interviews Mr. Ignace Bauwens, Regional Vice President of Wyndham Hotel Group Middle East, Eurasia & Africa.
Times have changed and people think differently about how they travel. What is Wyndham doing to meet the needs of today’s travelers? Especially for the Generation Y and the millennials?
If you look at millennials and the Generation Y in a broader global picture, what we see is the importance of digitalization so we are investing heavily in that. While maintaining a strong social media presence, we have also updated and renewed our website so it’s easier for people to get access. Furthermore, the democratization of travel is very important – each kind of traveler should enjoy a remarkable experience that meets their budgets and needs. Younger generations travel more but in shorter periods of time.
In line with this, we offer Wyndham Rewards, a loyalty program that offers an opportunity to earn and redeem points at thousands of our hotels. For every stay you have with us, you acquire a minimum of 1,000 points and you only need 15,000 points to redeem a free stay. There are no black-out dates so for a millennial who likes to travel more often, they can redeem this from their points.
Millennials look for functionality and connectivity – from the Super 8 to Wyndham Grand hotels. We are also launching our new guest-focused quality program – where Wi-Fi connectivity is being increased – to measure quality in our hotels. Today, the industry has vastly changed while continuing to evolve our offering.
How do you address the incompatibility between the supply and demand in the hotel industry?
Our industry is cyclical. In the last couple of years, we have seen incredible growth in the Middle East especially in the GCC. However in 2017, the Middle East was the only region globally that didn’t grow in Revenue Generation Index (RGI) according to STR. To counter that, what we need to do is work together with all stakeholders – the government as well as the private sector. We, as industry leaders need to work together to boost the region, especially Bahrain. It is only with joint efforts that we can make a positive change.
It is also important to position and grow the right products in the right place. Today, we are introducing the Wyndham Garden brand to the Middle East, a remarkable mid-scale brand that offers value for money. Lastly, we try and address this issue through the power of loyalty. Our award-winning loyalty program has revolutionized the way people travel.
What have been some of the major highlights with Wyndham?
Globally, we have grown our hotel portfolio – as Wyndham Hotel Group, we have reconfirmed our position as the global leaders in hospitality with over 8,400 hotels operating in 80 countries. If we look at the EMEA region, the group has never witnessed the type of growth we experienced in 2017. Also, we have opened three hotels of which two are the world’s largest hotels within our TRYP by Wyndham and Wyndham Garden portfolio: TRYP by Wyndham Dubai and Wyndham Garden Manama. We are also very proud to have launched the long-awaited Wyndham Grand in Manama.
What’s are your future plans?
We have two more openings this year for Wyndham Garden –Wyndham Garden in Dammam, KSA and Wyndham Garden in Ajman, UAE. We’re looking at Wyndham Garden Manama to the point of reference in Juffair and Manama as this property is a true reflection of the brand.