As President and Managing Director for EMEA at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Dimitris Manikis is responsible for the development of all of brands in the EMEA region as well as maximising the performance of all new and existing franchise and managed hotels. He share his thoughts on the opportunities in the leisure segment, and the role of the brand in terms of new business, loyalty, sales and marketing.
Wyndham has always had a strong presence in the leisure market: how has your approach evolved in recent years?
Dimitris Manikis: Leisure has always been a key component of our portfolio and focus. It has been driving the rebound of the hospitality industry after two very challenging years and getting a renewed attention by many industry players.
The pandemic has altered the way we travel and has been a catalyst for change especially for the leisure market. As many companies around the world have transitioned to working remotely, employees and managers have recognised the benefits of increased flexibility, autonomy, and work-life balance. We have learnt that if you can work from home, you can work from everywhere. We have seen this with the success of our Residences offering. The extended-stay segment is bringing enormous appetite for the hospitality industry and it is a trend that is here to stay for the longer term.
How do you retain a differentiated approach as more hospitality brands are now taking a keen interest in the sector?
Manikis: Our strength is about our scale, diversity and loyal guests. Wyndham has a very diverse range of brands – we recently reached 23 – from budget all the way to luxury hotels. This means that we attract and cater many travellers around the world, using different types of accommodation to suit their need at a particular time. A guest staying together at one of our city hotels for business for example, can decide to stay at one of our branded residences for an extended stay, and combine work with family time there.
A great example is the recently opened Residence project in Dubai, Wyndham Residences The Palm. Located in the Palm Jumeirah, one of the most popular landmarks in the emirate, Wyndham Residences The Palm offers mix of deluxe apartments ranging from modern studios to three-bedroom suites, a private beach and other high-end amenities. With a number of connecting lobbies conveniently located throughout, it can also accommodate groups requiring five-bedroom apartments, so it is really versatile. Wyndham Residences The Palm is the latest addition to our portfolio in the UAE, of which 14 are in Dubai alone. The property can benefit from a recognised and trusted name in the market, engaged guests and a network of successful peers.
In summary, our aim is to complement the existing project offering, enhance its reach to new markets and guest segments and increase awareness both from a B2B and B2C perspective.
What is the value of working with a brand for resort owners, as opposed to a tour operator, or remaining independent?
Manikis: Being affiliated with a brand can help a hotel to stay competitive in the market. If an independent hotel has a strategy for growth, the benefits of working with a brand are numerous and with many different touching points.
Loyalty, marketing and brand recognition will attract more guests to the hotel, which may not be so easily achieved without being connected to a well-known brand. Travellers choose the affiliated hotels due to the brand recognition and knowing the level of service and comfort they can expect. The scale and reach of a brand are also far more significant, which is of course incredibly important for a hotel that is looking to diversify its channels and networks.
Last but not least, the expertise, operational support and training that can be provided to hoteliers every step of the way is invaluable when working with a trusted brand. For example, we recently launched a new talent engagement to help hotel partners in EMEA attract, nurture, and retain hotel team members, which is absolutely critical amongst the labour shortage our industry is experiencing.
The third-party operator market remains very fragmented in European leisure markets: how does it affect your growth in the market, and how do you find the right partners?
Manikis: It is fragmented today but this will change. We experience the growth and the expanded reach of the white label operators who are leveraging their expertise, know-how and resources to support not only urban properties but also more and more leisure properties. For a franchise business like Wyndham, this development is critical for our growth and the success of our brand offering to our partners. Finding the right operators to partner with is critical and the good news is that there are more credible operators in the market to choose from and work with.
What are you looking forward to with regards to your participation to R&R?
Manikis: I am really looking forward to connecting with industry peers, exchanging views and ideas about the resort and residential segment at such an important time for its growth and momentum particularly in Europe. It is always essential for Wyndham to be involved with conversations on notable trends and ensure that we remain adaptable and relevant to what the industry needs.
Dimitris Manikis will be speaking at the Resort & Residential Hospitality Forum in Portugal in the session ‘Hospitality Brand, Tour Operator or Going Solo? Reviewing the Value of Partnerships for Owners’.