The HU High Five (E8) - Scott Strickland

September 4, 2020
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Rich Siegel Talks with Scott Strickland, Chief Information Officer at Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, to Discuss How the Company is Handling the Pandemic-induced Industry Decimation


 

In the latest installment of Rich Siegel’s HU High Five, Hospitality Upgrade’s president and publisher talks to Wyndham Hotels and Resorts Chief Information Officer Scott Strickland about how his company is handling the pandemic-induced industry decimation, and what lies ahead for the popular hotel brand and its franchisees.

Ironically, it was a Friday the 13th when Wyndham shuttered its corporate offices and sent everyone home, amid stay-at-home orders and fears of spreading the COVID-19 virus. Additionally, it was the beginning of incredibly low occupancy, which hit the chain hard on a hotel by hotel basis.

“At Wyndham what that meant for us was how do we help our franchisees through this time? What can we offer in terms of franchisee relief, because at this time we have 6,000 franchisees, which are basically small businesses,” said Strickland.

In terms of the internal challenges faced, Strickland said the IT department was hit hard. “We went through two rounds of layoffs … it was very public and very difficult, as we were saying goodbye to people we had worked with for a number of years,” Strickland said. However, reorganization and adjustments to the capital budget has helped Wyndham weather the storm. “The good thing is Wyndham acted quickly and made those cuts early. Since then we’ve been able to look at rebuilding the team, and we spent some time reprioritizing to discover what could we deliver to improve our franchisee experience.”

Some initiatives the company is putting into play include a production-based pricing model, and contactless technology like a mobile app that allows for touchless check-in and mobile payment, enhancing the customer experience at more of Wyndham’s properties worldwide.

Strickland explained, “We democratized that level of service, making it available to every type of hotel. Suddenly 6,000 of our hotels are going to be enabled to take part in this technology that has typically only been available to luxury brands.”

Wyndham operates more than 9,200 properties all over the world. “At some point, hospitality will come back … travel will come back,” Strickland said,  “and we need to be ready for that, when it occurs.”
 



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