Wyndham International: Fostering High-Touch with High-Tech
The Wyndham Hotel Corporation was founded in 1981 by Trammell Crow in Dallas, Tx. Its first hotel was opened in 1982 and by 1985 they had successfully held 14 upscale properties in their portfolio. Wyndham continued to grow throughout the years until in 1997 they agreed to be acquired by Patriot American Hospitality Inc., under a Real Estate Investment Trust or REIT. After the acquisition, they began an aggressive campaign to purchase several smaller companies to increase their holdings. Some of those companies included Williams Hospitality, Carefree Hospitality, and Summerfield Suites. Due to these major acquisitions, Wyndham experience an eruption in growth and profit, but that would become short lived. The REIT structure was going under increased pressure federal regulators as well as several of Wyndham’s competitors. They claimed that under the REIT structure, companies were receiving an unfair advantage over premiums for both lodging properties and real estate. In light of this information, their stock value began to decrease significantly and had lost over 80% of its value. For several years Wyndham struggled to pay down its debt and was forced to lose it REIT status and turn into a C-Corporation under the new title Wyndham International Corporation. The next several years involved major changes and IT incorporation in a process to restructure the company. Lodging Industry – Franchising & Information Technology (IT) Structure After the consolidation and reduction in real estate size, Wyndham International began to franchise its business. With that came all the connections that Wyndham had, but it was also seen as a dirty word. Companies had now become more customer focused with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) at their core. When it came to profits, they got all that they wanted, but when it came to quality it was lacking. The companies had to take that into account and then decide what was more important to them. Wyndham International would later discover a way to have both. When it came to IT, things really got out of hand. There was no clear path as to how money would be spent on it. IT was responsible for handling almost all of the transactions needed for the hotel. Things such as occupancy, check in/out, product inventory were all part of the IT infrastructure and there were several different configurations of hard/soft-ware, platforms and interfaces. It could even be that several companies within the chain ran different versions of the same software and that proved to be a huge issue. By 2002, Wyndham was working on centralizing and consolidating its IT infrastructure to best suit the needs of the company. By doing so, Wyndham became the first hotel company to have used the Property Management System (PMS) in a centralized environment, and this lead to the creation of Wyndham ByRequest. Centralization of IT infrastructure, allowed them to reduce the number of disparate systems it had to deal with. The ByRequest amenities portfolio increase as time went by and with the increased comfort that customers had with the internet, it became easier to use and membership grew. Competition for Guests & Customer Oriented Programs
Wyndham International needed a way for customers to quickly identify them as a prominent hotel chain, but they were suffering from low brand recognition. According to the 2000 National Business Travel Monitor’s preferred brands, Wyndham did not make the top 20 most recognizable brands to business travelers. Wyndham needed a way to remarket themselves and stand out in the crowd. Many hotel companies were offering a points program where customers could redeem them for any number of things, but Wyndham wanted to go one step further. Wyndham’s solution was its program called Wyndham ByRequest. Wyndham ByRequest was a guest recognition program that focused on differentiating the guest experience...
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