Ahead of spin-off, Wyndham Hotel Group puts a new spin on its brand names

In a global move designed to more strongly connect the Wyndham name through its network of brands, Wyndham Hotel Group is appending "by Wyndham" to 12 additional brands. The announcement was made during the Wyndham Hotel Group Global Conference this week in Las Vegas.

After the addition, all 20 current Wyndham brands will have the Wyndham moniker as part of the brand name.  Wyndham acquired La Quinta in January, but as the transaction has not yet closed, the brand has not yet confirmed if it will add the extra wordage. "We will never do anything without brand council support," Wyndham President and CEO Geoff Ballotti said at the company's conference in Las Vegas. "If La Quinta does not want to be 'by Wyndham," I will view it—we will all view it—it as a failure on our part to convince them to get there."  

The 12 additional brands that will now carry the "by Wyndham" distinction are: Super 8, Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Travelodge, AmericInn, Baymont, Ramada, Ramada Encore, Dolce, Dazzler, Esplendor and Trademark Hotel Collection. Absent from the list is Knights Inn, which this month was sold to Red Lion Hotels Corporation for $27 million. 

Four brands, Tryp, Wingate, Microtel and Hawthorn Suites, already employ the "by Wyndham" hallmark.

While the decision was made in order to capitalize on the familiarity of the Wyndham name, thereby also pulling travelers through the Wyndham Rewards loyalty program, the sheer number of hotel brands in the marketplace calculated in the reasoning, too.

"In a world that has nearly 1,000 different hotel brands, guests look for names they know and trust," said Lisa Checchio, SVP of global brands at Wyndham Hotel Group. "By putting 'by Wyndham' on the front door of all of our hotels, there is the awareness that this brand belongs to the largest hotel group in world, and that helps us to encourage guests to book direct and help them understand the tie-in of Wyndham Rewards, which is a huge driver for us." Wyndham Rewards has more than 55 million current members.  

The announcement comes as Wyndham Hotel Group’s parent company, Wyndham Worldwide, spins the hotel unit off into a pure play hotel company by Q2.  

The change itself will be pushed out rapidly, said Wyndham Hotel Group CMO Barry Goldstein. Starting April 16, updated brand names and logos will appear across Wyndham’s digital placements on brand websites, mobile sites and third-party listings.

Updates to physical signage on property will be concluded by the end of 2022, and Goldstein said that Wyndham would help fund some of these overhauls. Hotel owners in North America can begin placing orders for their new signs today.

A Move With Precedent

The Wyndham name or association is prevalent in the upper-upscale spaces with Wyndham and Wyndham Grand and to a lesser extent in midscale with Wyndham Garden. Now, it is being pushed out further in midscale and spread through economy, where Wyndham has a heavy concentration of brands, some of them the most iconic in the industry, such as Super 8, Howard Johnson and Days Inn.

Those three brands, along with the midscale Ramada, are brands with an already high awareness that will now be in a better position to showcase and highlight the parent Wyndham name. "For brands like Days Inn and Super 8, it's hard to find someone who doesn’t know what those brands are," said Checchio. "Recognition of those big, economy, iconic brands drives awareness for our parent brand and then our parent brand drives positive consumer sentiment that the brand is known and trusted around the world."

There is precedent for the naming convention. In 2007, Wingate Inn dropped the "Inn" and added the "by Wyndham" designation. According to Checchio, the move was a boon for the brand and, therefore, franchisees. After the change, the brand saw an 11-percent jump in awareness, in sentiment and in recognition, Checchio said. "We know this will work."

It's worked out for others, including Hilton and Marriott. Of 14 Hilton brands, nine carry the "by Hilton" appendage, including its newer brands, such as Tru by Hilton and Canopy by Hilton. Of Marriott's 30 brands, many that fall within the Select and Longer Stays categories carry the "by Marriott" distinction. 

A similar determination was undertaken by Rosewood Hotels and Resorts in 2007, an exercise that was turned into a case study by the Harvard Business Review. At the time, Rosewood was composed of 12 individually named hotels that stood on their own brand, such as The Carlyle in New York and the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas. A new executive team scrutinized this approach, contemplating whether Rosewood should increase the prominence of its corporate identity into each hotel and if the multimillion-dollar marketing investment was worth it. 

Today, the hotel collection numbers more than 20 hotels operating and all have Rosewood in some form present in the name of the hotel, from The Carlye, A Rosewood Hotel to Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek. 

Not unlike Wyndham's move, the central idea measures how customer lifetime value will be affected by a shift from individual branding to corporate branding.