Exclusive Interview – Leo Liu, President, Greater China, Wyndham Hotel Group
Leo Liu, President, Greater China, Wyndham Hotel Group was delivering a keynote at ITB China entitled “The Invariable Innovation and Crossover”. In the conference, Mr Liu was giving details of the latest developments in the group, brand strategy, cross-border activities, and development plans and objectives in China. We asked him firstly to tell us a little more about the company’s evolution in China.
WE PLAN TO FORM NEW STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS WITH INVESTORS, CONSULTANTS, CAPITAL AND INDUSTRY GROUPS/ALLIANCES TO ESTABLISH A LONG-TERM MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL MODE OF COOPERATION
The rapid growth of China’s tourism industry has created a heightened demand for hotels and offers huge potential for us to expand the presence of our brands in stunning locations country-wide. We expect significant growth for our upscale Wyndham Hotels and Resorts brand in emerging markets, especially in rising regional economic hubs, leisure locations and nature resort locations. Wyndham is currently the largest US-based hotel company in China, and we expect to hit more than 2,000 hotels in this country by the end of 2019. Our success is a testament to the global power of our brands and the increasing influence of our class-leading loyalty programme. In a little over a decade, we’ve established ourselves as a key player in the country—opening on average more than five hotels weekly and enrolling nearly 1,000 new Wyndham Rewards members daily. China continues to offer incredible opportunities, and with our broad portfolio of globally recognised brands, Wyndham is uniquely positioned to take advantage.
You were largely educated in France in the “grandes écoles”, and also worked with the Frenchbased AccorHotels group for some time. Do you feel this might give you a “different” way of looking at things?
It can be said that the atmosphere of French society, its code of conduct and its people’s quality of life requirements have had a certain impact upon me. It meant my choice of work was naturally related to lifestyle, or quality of life. Perhaps because of these unique and diverse experiences, I have been described as “half gentleman, half adventurer”. In my opinion, the gentleman is the intrinsic core value, the adventure is the outward manifestation. The performance of the gentleman in the workplace is mainly reflected in team management-building and team cohesion, making the team work in a relaxed atmosphere, and being truly proud of the job. Meanwhile, adventurers, or adventurous spirits, are the people who dare to subvert the tradition and break the comfort zone. While being a solid brand, Wyndham Hotel Group wants to be recognised in a short space of time, so it needs some adventurous spirit.
Where do you see the company going in the next couple of years? What’s the roadmap?
Wyndham Hotel Group has always regarded China as a strategic location. In 2018, we continue to adhere to the “full-star, multi-brand, broad cross-border” strategy. We will be bringing more excellent hotels to different cities, and better serving the owners. In terms of brand, over the years, we have been committed to brand expansion and upgrading. The number of Ramada hotels in China has past 90, and the 100th Ramada will be officially opened in China this year. We are constantly introducing new brands to enrich our group in China, such as the inclusion of the Tryp and the Wingate lifestyle brands. Wyndham Hotel Group will also continue to expand into third or fourth tier Chinese cities. Data shows that in China, there are more than 80 cities with population levels between five and ten million. This means there is very large potential for development.
When it comes to the hotel platform, we are developing multiwin cooperation. We plan to form new strategic partnerships with investors, consultants, capital and industry groups/alliances to establish a long-term mutually beneficial mode of cooperation. The launch of the alliance matrix is a three-dimensional offensive, which will show Wyndham as being tolerant and open, and expanding the hotels’ ecological circle. This means not only providing hotel services, but also serving the hotel. Wyndham Hotel Group is also making strategic changes, focusing on links to more of the best in other areas, such as US and HTC VR, highend unmanned aerial vehicles, an underwater robotic company, and cross-border integration of the double win situation, which also makes the hotel industry more vital and vibrant.
Photo: Leo Liu – President, Greater China, Wyndham Hotel Group