• Wyndham seeks international growth

Wyndham Hotel Group, the largest chain in the world by number of hotels, is seeking to grow its international hotel business by as much as 39% a year until 2010, it said this week during its investor day.

The US company, which is second only to InterContinental in terms of total number of rooms, is seeking to push beyond its base in franchising economy hotels in the US to an integrated, multi-segment, international franchise and management operation.

Back in 2002, Wyndham, then part of Cendant, had just 1.2% of its hotel rooms outside of the US. Today, it has 10% internationally – 5.8% in EMEA, 3.4% in Asia Pacific and 0.8% in Latin America.

While it will pursue growth with its upscale Wyndham brand, a key focus is to remain budget and economy hotels. It quoted Deloitte 2005 revpar data that showed budget and economy hotels were the fastest growing in Europe with a 13.6% rise compared to a 3.7% rise in mid market revpar and decreases of 4.2% in luxury and of 1.5% in first class.

The brand focus internationally is to be on Wyndham, Ramada, Days Inn, Super 8 and Howard Johnson. Some 25% of the company's pipeline is now international.

To achieve system growth it said it would pursue tuck-in acquisitions and multi-unit development deal, drive mix-use opportunities and leverage the developer network that is part of its RCI timeshare exchange business.

A key international success has been Super 8 in China where it has 110 properties either opened or signed in 58 Chinese cities. The development has been conducted through a master franchise agreement with Tian Rui Hotel Investment Corporation.

This month Wyndham also signed a deal with Royal Orchid Hotels in Bangalore, India, to develop 10 Ramada hotels totalling at least 1,000 rooms over the next three to four years.

In Europe, Wyndham's joint venture partner, Corinthia Hotels International, is to receive Eu178m in backing for its principal owner International Hotel Investments from Istithmar Hotels of Dubai. The Istithmar cash is to be used to buy and build upscale hotels, primarily in Europe.

Wyndham has a 30% stake in CHI and the relationship is seeing 15 hotels adopt the Ramada Plaza, Wyndham or Wyndham Grand brands. This week also saw Tony Potter, the new CEO of CHI, officially start at the company.

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