With the launch of its new Moda prototype, Microtel by Wyndham continues on with its all-new construction model, which brand leader Keri Putera sees as the brand's recipe for success.
ATLANTA—Offering a new-build-only model in the economy segment is the “secret sauce” to Microtel by Wyndham’s success, according to Keri Putera, VP of brand operations for Microtel.
The concept for Microtel was created in 1987 by Loren Ansley, and the first property opened in 1989 in Rochester, New York. From there, Mike Leven, founder of U.S. Franchise Systems, came up with a franchising model for Microtel in 1995, “and that’s kind of how the whole story started,” Putera said.
Brand pipeline and growth
As of December 2018, 82 Microtel agreements have been executed in the pipeline globally, Putera said during an interview with Hotel News Now at the Hunter Hotel Conference, where the brand announced its new Moda prototype.
In North America, 325 hotels will be required to upgrade their hotel interiors to the Moda prototype during their normal renovation cycles, Putera said.
The current Microtel design features a gabled roof and bump-outs on the exterior, while the new prototype calls for a “very streamlined, very sleek flat roofline,” she said.
“(The prototypes) are so different in nature—the exteriors, by design—that we will not be able to have (owners) do any type of exterior upgrades, (aside from) landscaping and paint and your normal material renovations on a product. But we will be asking them in their normal renovations cycle to do the new interior,” she said.
That includes “new guestroom, new lobby design where applicable, new color schemes, new soft goods,” Putera said.
Microtel always has been an exclusively new construction brand, Putera said, adding that Microtel doesn’t accept conversions and won’t under its licensing agreement.
“We have the highest overall satisfaction quality scores in terms of guest ratings of any economy brand,” she said. “That really speaks to the consistency of product and the fact that we will remain all-new construction. That’s part of the brand’s DNA. It is really important, especially in this segment, because no one else competes in this segment in terms of new construction.”
This formula has helped bring developers on board, Putera said. “When you go to a developer to build, that person can see the consistency the product develops and provides …. They can build them at a really efficient cost, yet they see those returns that rival midscale,” she said.
Another thing that sets Microtel apart in the economy segment is its focus on the millennial traveler, Putera said.
“When you walk in and you see a Microtel, the value and the perception that you feel is a very midscale experience, yet it’s minimalistic. You don’t have extras that you don’t need. You go in; you have a comfortable bed, a hot shower, the right kind of wall-hung furniture, so everything is in its place and everything is simple, smart and efficient in terms of the guest experience, as well as how the owner operates the hotel,” she said.
Markets, regions for growth
In terms of growth, Putera said Microtel is looking “in every market in every state.” The brand has in its portfolio 325 hotels in North America.
“Although we have concentration on the East Coast, we tend to reside a little more heavily from New York State down through the I-95 corridor into Florida and out through Texas, but we still have an incredible amount of opportunity in open markets, even in those areas of the country,” she said.
“Obviously the West Coast has been a little bit more challenging to develop and grow in, so that will definitely be a heavy focus for us, but really there’s not a market within the U.S. or Canada that we wouldn’t be looking at right now.”
Microtel is open to all markets, but “is generally going to perform its best and be the right balance for the customer mix we have in more tertiary markets,” Putera said.
“We generally don’t go into downtown markets; not that we won’t be looking to go there,” she said. “For instance, we just opened a Microtel right in Long Island City, New York, (which is a) very metropolitan area. We just opened one in College Station, Texas, right behind Texas A&M University … So we’re definitely growing in those markets, but primarily we will go after more tertiary markets with a mix of blue-collar workers as well as leisure travelers.”