Speaking at the Mediterranean Resort & Hotel Real Estate Forum, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts CEO Geoff Ballotti said the Mediterranean is a key growth region in his company’s international ambitions.
VOULIAGMENI, Greece—Geoff Ballotti, president and CEO of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, sees the Mediterranean region as critical to the expansion of his company’s brands.
And that push will include its recently purchased La Quinta brand, Ballotti said.
Speaking at the Mediterranean Resort & Hotel Real Estate Forum, Ballotti said spearheading the charge is a partnership with Greek management company Zeus International. The joint venture’s first property was the 276-room Wyndham Grand Athens, which debuted in December 2016.
Quickly following that was a co-located project—Wyndham Loutraki Poseidon Resort and Ramada Loutraki Poseidon Resort—close to the city of Corinth.
Wyndham now has seven opened hotels in Greece, and the Zeus deal is for 20 hotels across the Mediterranean region over the next 10 years, with Greece a definite target, Ballotti said. Other Mediterranean destinations earmarked include Italy and the Balkan nations.
On 18 October, Wyndham released a statement underlining its ambitions in the region, which includes 69 opened hotels in Turkey and a pipeline of an additional 31 assets by 2020.
In Israel, it has five properties, while next year will see the firm’s debut in Cyprus in its capital, Nicosia. Another debut is the September 2018 introduction of the Ramada brand into Portugal.
Ballotti said he had been in Turkey meeting owners and developers for the five days before the forum began.
Ballotti said he is very excited about opportunities in Greece.
“Greece has been on a tear,” he said. “From 2010, visitor numbers are up from 10 million a year to 32 million. I was surprised by the occupancy numbers, which we have seen go up and up.”
He said there are 907 La Quinta hotels in the Americas, with a pipeline of almost 260 properties. The large majority in the U.S. and are new-build hotels.
Ballotti added the brand would be coming to Europe and that conversions would not be ruled out.
“(La Quinta) has potential in Greece, he said. “We will be registering it for sale in Spain, Portugal, Germany and Greece. We’re seeing (revenue per available room) north of $100. It is select service, midmarket. The middle-class is where all the growth will happen. The growth (in the Mediterranean) is all about relationships. Our contribution is providing the best sales and marketing, distribution and loyalty and to the right partners.
“It is very difficult to be an unbranded hotel today in terms of cost structures.”
Ballotti said Wyndham just recently exceeded the 40% barrier in reference to room bookings for hotels outside of the US.
“I reiterate that is the rise of middle-class travelers,” Ballotti said. “Guests want instant gratification today, and what they really want is a free night, so we’re continuing to make this as easy as possible for them to get.”
Ballotti added Wyndham now has more than 17,000 homes available in places like Hawaii that remain redemption goals for many of its loyalty program members.
Strengthened loyalty programs—the La Quinta deal will add a further 13 million members to Wyndham’s—is one reason the hotel industry will continue to see consolidation, Ballotti said.
“You only have to look at what is happening with the airlines, with their three major loyalty players,” Ballotti said. “Wyndham has averaged an acquisition every 18 months. Right now, we’re very focused on the integration of La Quinta.”