Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has introduced BOLD by Wyndham, a new program designed to engage and advance more Black entrepreneurs on their path to hotel ownership. Developed with insight and support from existing and aspiring Black hoteliers, BOLD, which stands for Black Owners and Lodging Developers, aims to expand awareness for the unique challenges faced by Black entrepreneurs while using the scale and resources of Wyndham to help address those challenges and increase the number of Black hoteliers.
“Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has always championed diversity, equity and inclusion both within our company and throughout the greater travel industry,” said Geoff Ballotti, president/CEO, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. “From successfully launching Women Own the Room—the industry’s first-ever program targeting women’s advancement in hotel ownership—to today’s debut of BOLD by Wyndham, we’re leveraging the power of Wyndham to create new ownership opportunities and expand accessibility for underrepresented hoteliers.”
The National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD) reports that Black employment in the hotel industry represents nearly 20% of all team members in the industry, yet less than 2% of hotel owners are Black. Meanwhile, McKinsey reports 20% of Black Americans are starting or currently running businesses—more than any other ethnic group. BOLD is Wyndham’s approach to attract more Black entrepreneurs to hospitality as well as help accelerate those already familiar with the significant opportunities hotel ownership provides, offering the tools and guidance needed to achieve success.
“[BOLD by Wyndham] is an important initiative to us because, as the world’s leading largest hotel franchising company, we know the power and the benefits of hotel franchises—both in terms of the impact to the entrepreneurs themselves as well as to the community,” Galen Barrett, VP, strategic development, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, told Hotel Business. “We know 20% of the workforce is African-American, but only 2% of hotel owners are black, so we decided it was the right time to commit to supporting and advancing [the Black] community toward hotel ownership.”
He said that the company turned to Black entrepreneurs to help it create the program, adding, “We asked them, ‘What are the issues that you face generally as entrepreneurs,’ and for those who are entrepreneurs who have considered hotel ownership, ‘What are the specific challenges that you’ve seen in developing and operating and owning hotels.'”
BOLD is founded on two key building blocks: attracting more Black entrepreneurs to hospitality by promoting hotel ownership as a vehicle for potential wealth creation and accelerating the path to hotel ownership.
- Laying the foundation: Opening the doors to hospitality through education and outreach is essential to advancing Black hotel ownership. Through BOLD, Black entrepreneurs can participate in Wyndham-sponsored networking and educational events and receive resources designed to help explore if hotel ownership is right for them and what it takes to be a successful hotelier. During each event, participants will have the chance to learn more about ownership, common barriers and how to overcome them, tips for securing financing and more.
- Accelerating the path to ownership: For Black entrepreneurs who already know that hotel ownership is the right choice for them, BOLD exists to eliminate barriers and help expedite the route to ownership. Wyndham will provide qualified members with access to enhanced capital and operational support; financing opportunities, including lender introductions; and discounts with preferred suppliers. Qualified members will also be invited to participate in signature BOLD Incubator events, connecting them with committed lenders and brokers and offering the opportunity to explore partner/joint venture opportunities and package development deals that come with additional capital support.
“I remember one entrepreneur saying she’s a junior partner in a couple of hotels, but when she pivoted on her own, to try to be the primary lead investor, she would make calls to brokers and reach out to lenders with packages looking to get them financed,” Barrett said. “The feedback that they would give was either not direct or nonexistent. So, getting that level of traction is what our incubator is meant to do.”
He continued, “What we want to put together is an event where we have candidates from the community who we can prequalify, and we will deliver those individuals into an event where we also bring brokers and lenders who will bring real opportunities to these entrepreneurs so that they can consider fully with our backing in our lending, our resources and our experience to make these opportunities credible.”
Inaugural BOLD member
Vaughn Irons, principal, Stonecrest Resorts, is the inaugural member of BOLD by Wyndham having recently been awarded a new-construction, 110-room TRYP by Wyndham franchise in the Atlanta suburb of Stonecrest, GA. The hotel will be a welcome enhancement to Stonecrest Resorts’ current $17 million adaptive-reuse project, Priví, which is transforming The Mall at Stonecrest into a family entertainment and lifestyle destination. Stonecrest Resorts has already developed the 25,000-sq.-ft. SeaQuest Aquarium in the first phase of the project, which opened November 2021. The second phase is already underway and will soon add a health & wellness complex, fine art gallery, bookstore, coffee shop, incubator for creatives and a 5,000-sq.-ft. events facility. The hotel is a cornerstone of the project’s next phase, which will introduce new lifestyle elements, including a 50,000-sq.-ft. chef-driven food hall, history museum, fashion designer emporium and expanded family entertainment. These elements will increase the total investment of the Privi project to $35 million, with the hotel expected to break ground in early 2023.
“We’re not just creating a new one-of-a-kind gathering place for those in east metro Atlanta,” said the first-time hotelier. “Priví is an economic development project solidifying Stonecrest as a tourism destination and drawing visitors from all around the Southeast and eventually internationally. Throughout each and every interaction Wyndham has been a true partner in listening to fully understand our tourism potential and delivering on our needs to offer a lifestyle brand experience in Stonecrest.”
To learn more about BOLD by Wyndham, including details about upcoming events, visit BoldbyWyndham.com.