Eric Danziger last year said he wanted to take Wyndham Hotel Group to the moon. He wanted to create a goal so outlandish it was thought to be impossible, much like his idol's bold declaration in 1961—when President John F. Kennedy announced his intention to send a man to the moon.
Earlier today, at the opening general session of the inaugural Wyndham Hotel Group Global Conference, Danziger outlined his moon, saying the goal was to become “the world's leading hotel company in size, customer value and performance.”
The big news of the session was Danziger's announcement that Wyndham Hotel Group would franchise and manage hotels under the Planet Hollywood brand. It comes on the heels of the recent acquisition of Tryp, the select service, mid-priced brand with locations in some of the world's iconic cities like Paris, Madrid and San Paulo.
Wyndham Hotel Group still has its core brands of franchise-driven economy and midscale chains like Super 8 and Days Inn, but it also is driving growth through the Wyndham brands, Tryp and now Planet Hollywood.
As further evidence of the company's transition from franchise giant to hotel company (it still doubles as a franchise machine), Danziger brought all 12 (and now 13) brands together at the conference at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Instead of multiple events by brand through the year, 5,700 owners, general managers, corporate staff and vendors attended the event.
Rather than a company of 12 separate parts, Danziger presented Wyndham as one company—a hotel company—with 12 (now 13) parts working together. His mission—titled Apollo (the rocket that sent Neil Armstrong to the moon)—includes more cross selling and marketing and other ways to take advantage of the size and scale of the company with more than 7,200 properties and 607,000 rooms globally.
Danziger's opening session was light on business details, but heavy on leadership and entertainment. He landed on stage, literally, via space ship, recreating the moon landing. He quoted, dressed up and reenacted scenes from movies like Star Trek, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Wizard of Oz and Avatar. The message throughout was leadership and breaking barriers, with a healthy dose of comedy and corniness mixed in.
The session ended with the executive leadership team performing two songs as a band—Earth, Wyndham and Fire. Many of the execs learned to play instruments as part of the team building exercise, and some, like front man and lead singer Jim Alderman, obviously had some prior experience.
You can bet the songs—“I'm a Believer” and “Break on Through”—were chosen for a reason. There clearly is a method to Danziger's madness.