Q&A with Rui Barros, of Wyndham Hotel Group
After 16 years with the company, Rui Barros is the new president and managing director of North America franchise operations for Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey-based Wyndham Hotel Group, the world’s largest based on the number of hotels.
Barros now has a broader role in looking after all of Wyndham’s North American brands, overseeing the field operations, helping plan expansions and assisting the company’s franchise partners. In specific, that means putting the right brands in the right markets, smoothly opening new properties, and working to drive market share throughout the region.
We spoke with Barros as part of a story for the upcoming June/July issue of Franchise Times and asked a few additional questions about trends in the hotel world:
Franchise Times: Of all the brands in the Wyndham network, which are you most bullish on?
Rui Barros: I love all my children equally, Tom. There is one particular brand that is doing really well: Microtel Inns & Suites by Wyndham. It’s a 12-time J.D. Power and Associates winner, and to win in that economy segment for all hotel brands is a huge honor.
FT: What do your franchisees like about Microtel?
RB: It is a great model. It’s all new construction, it’s value engineered, it can be built on about an acre of land, it’s wood construction, it’s very efficient to run, so from a developer’s perspective it is a great investment.
FT: What’s the challenge in working with so many franchisees?
RB: If you are franchised, there’s just so much going on at the property day in and day you [that] you tend to forget or overlook the tools and resources that are at your disposal through the franchise to help you drive top-line revenue. The greatest challenge is the level of engagement with these owners and operators. YOu’ve got some that are mega users and are tapping into every resource—those are typically the ones that are performing at the highest level.
FT: What do you think about the rush of smaller, hipper, more urban brands from many of the legacy chains?
RB: There have been a lot of different brands that have been introduced, and a lot of discussion as to whether the proliferation of brands is a good thing or just confusing the consumers. Hotel companies have to be careful if they’re launching too many that begin to bleed into one another. That’s dangerous, because you don’t want to cause confusion for the guests.
FT: What other trends are impacting the hotel world?
RB: Dual branding. You’re going to start seeing brands being introduced in the same plot of land that offers two very distinct experiences. From a developer’s perspective, the benefit is shared services that … would certainly drop the cost of development and operation for the owner. Our competitors are starting to talk about it, we’re talking about it and exploring that. It just needs to be the right brands.
FT: Within North America, your new turf, what cities do you see as the biggest opportunities?
RB: We are definitely looking at our top 25 markets … urban locations like Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Miami—all those are attractive, particularly as it relates to TRYP by Wyndham. We’re always looking for opportunities in those key markets, because that really does drive brand awareness.