Front Desk

Why Wyndham?

It was a busy week for the folks in Parsippany, NJ. On Monday, Cendant Hotel Group announced its acquisition of the Baymont Inn & Suites brand from The Blackstone Group. This is a smart move for everyone involved. Cendant's forte is brand distribution, and Baymont is a good product that has just lacked the geographic reach a first-tier chain requires. Franchisees should be happy, too, that their fate will be in the hands of experienced pros whose only game is franchising.

Cendant's second announcement, which came today, is a little more puzzling. When Cendant Corp. splits into four separate companies later this year, the hospitality firm will be called Wyndham Worldwide, a nod to its second-most recent acquisition, the brand and management contracts of Wyndham Hotels (also purchased, not coincidentally, from Blackstone). While a recognizable hotel name is much better than the Cendant moniker, Wyndham is a name that comes with some baggage. Like Baymont, Wyndham has had a solid mix of products, some innovative marketing (e.g., Wyndham by Request) and a high-powered lineage (i.e., the legendary tycoon Trammell Crow founded the chain). Yet, the company never really became a household hotel brand, with the cachet and brand clarity of rivals like Hyatt, Hilton and Marriott.

I guess the other side of the coin is that Cendant (er, Wyndham Worldwide) has an opportunity to build the new company into a global powerhouse. Time will tell, but I wouldn't bet against its excellent leadership team: Stephen Holmes and, most particularly, Steve Rudnitsky.

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