Q&A with Rajiv Trivedi Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

For more than a decade, Rajiv Trivedi spearheaded the growth of the La Quinta system to more than 900 franchised properties. This June, he assumed the role of president, La Quinta at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, following the completion of Wyndham’s acquisition of La Quinta. Here, he talks to Hotel Business about the brand’s integration into the Wyndham system.

How is La Quinta’s integration going? Very well—it’s a massive undertaking to seamlessly incorporate 900 hotels into the world’s largest hotel franchising organization, and the Wyndham team has been nothing but excellent in welcoming the La Quinta family.

We’re already seeing great synergies in the short time since the acquisition closed, and we are all quite excited about future opportunities and possibilities. The upcoming unification of La Quinta Returns and the award- winning Wyndham Rewards loyalty program; international growth opportunities for La Quinta to expand our Latin American presence and explore new global markets; opportunities to improve our technology platforms; and cost savings in various areas including OTA commission—these are just a few examples of the things that will offer La Quinta and our franchise partners a great formula for our ongoing success.

La Quinta is regarded as a premium brand among Wyndham’s select-service portfolio. It’s now a flagship brand for Wyndham, and one that fits perfectly within its diverse collection of powerhouse brands.

What has your day-to-day looked like the past few months? Hectic, to say the least! When you bring together two successful businesses that are driven by the success of their franchise partners, shareholders, employees and the highest levels of guest experience, it requires a great deal of planning and teamwork.

We’re still in the early months of integration, and we continue to remain very busy but highly productive. We have been engaged in outlining and executing on integration plans, and we have already seen various positive outcomes for our franchise partners, guests and team members.

Have there been any challenges thus far? It is natural to experience some challenges in an integration of this magnitude, but none have been a doorstopper, which is essential for our franchise partners.

We have benefited from combining the intellectual power among the Wyndham and La Quinta teams, and thanks to that intellect and teamwork, we have found successful solutions to any and all challenges. We will always remain focused on protecting the best interest of our franchise partners, the company and its team members, and the shareholders in all that we do.

One of the biggest selling points of the acquisition was the scale and resources Wyndham could provide to owners. How are you seeing this bear out thus far? Wyndham’s scale continues to remain among the biggest assets in this deal. That scale offers resources and infrastructure that are critical to the continued success of the La Quinta brand and our franchise partners. We already see that impact in various areas including sourcing and procurement, where our owners can now take advantage of Wyndham’s agreements and pricing; the cross-selling of La Quinta hotels on Wyndham brand websites, which is tracking well and resulting in bookings; reduced OTA costs; and the loyalty programs—just days after the acquisition we began offering 1:1 point transfer and complimentary status match between Wyndham Rewards and La Quinta Returns, a great immediate benefit for our combined 70-million-plus loyalty members and for our hotels. This is just the start.

How do you see that evolving? As we develop greater synergies with integration, I am confident more benefits will emerge. There’s great opportunity to continue La Quinta’s growth nationally and look at international opportunities with Wyndham’s global infrastructure. We will see higher levels of recognition of our brand worldwide after incorporating the ‘by Wyndham’ tag to the La Quinta name. We will see the benefits and power of Wyndham Rewards when we fully integrate the loyalty programs early next year. As we review and upgrade CR and PM system technology at hotels, property management will become more productive and efficient. These changes have the potential to bring about the highest levels of services to our guests, and optimized revenue and growth in market share for our hotels. This will accelerate our growth as a brand in general.

Tell me a bit about the brand’s overall pipeline. Since acquisition, we have had 13 properties commence construction from groundbreaking to foundation pour and beyond. We have opened 10 new-construction hotels. We have signed nearly 20 new agreements. Our pipeline has grown to 261 hotels, 90% of which is new-construction. As you can see, the interest in La Quinta among developers continues to grow and remains at a very high level.

Just a few weeks after the acquisition closed, we announced the groundbreaking of a 101-room La Quinta hotel in Orlando that will reflect our contemporary Del Sol prototype design (of which we currently have 40 open and 35 under construction). This hotel is going up right next to a new-construction Tryp by Wyndham hotel—an early and exciting example of the fast-realizing synergies we’re seeing since La Quinta joined the Wyndham family. It’s also a testament to the potential multi-brand deals that may be possible now that Wyndham and La Quinta have come together.

How would you describe your growth strategy going forward? We will continue to remain both strategic and opportunistic. There is still great opportunity to expand our footprint here in North America, and we will now be tapping into international opportunities as well.

As we see a fitting opportunity, we will remain highly committed to capturing it to grow our brand, further enhancing our brand’s positioning against the competition. HB