AT A SPECIAL unveiling for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ new “Moda” prototype for its Microtel by Wyndham brand, Wyndham President and CEO Geoff Ballotti praised the 30-year-old brand’s performance in the economy segment. It is just time for an update, he said.
“There is no brand of higher quality in the economy segment than this brand,” he said. “But brands outgrow, they evolve, and 30 years was a long time ago. We need to keep our brands fresh.”
Moda is designed to be lean and mean with an emphasis on efficiency and cost reduction, Keri Putera, vice president of brand operations for Microtel told a gathering of media and colleagues at the unveiling. It was held during last week’s Hunter Hotel Conference in Atlanta, Georgia at the Museum of Design Atlanta, aka MODA.
“Moda is all about style and precision,” Putera said. “Being very, very precise and thoughtful in what we do.”
As the event attendees struggled to construct their own hotel prototypes out of random Lego blocks (with a Lego version of the Moda prototype nearby for inspiration), Putera and Wyndham Senior Vice President for New Construction Development David Wilner laid out the specifics of the new design.
“This unveiling is so much larger than just the new prototype,” Wilner said. “To us it really represents Wyndham Hotel’s new growth strategy, a strategy that’s really focused on high-quality, strategic growth and new construction development.”
Part of that strategy is a focus on new construction development, he said, and Microtel is the only 100 percent new-build brand in economy sector.
“It actually competes in a large part with mid-scale hotels,” he said.
Moda is an evolution of the existing Microtel design, Putera said, using input from current Microtel owners and a newly-created developers advisory council consisting of 15 industry experts. Their aim was to reduce cost and increase efficiencies for builders, but also to modernize the brand, she said.
“Yes the brand was started 30 years ago, but today was the day we launched into the future,” Putera said. “Anyone who has seen and knows the current Microtel prototype, there’s lots of cuts in and out of the building, there’s a pitched roof that’s been around for 30 years. We’ve really taken this opportunity to modernize the prototype, flatten the roofline, make the exterior much more sleek and modern looking and really more mid-scale looking.”
To improve efficiency, Putera’s team moved all the “back of the house” areas to one location to make it more efficient to run the hotel. All F&B was moved to the front.
“You can build a Microtel at a very efficient cost, but we rival those mid-scale returns, and this prototype now gives you the look and feel of that mid-scale box and that mid-scale hotel that we’ve been looking for,” she said.
The Moda prototype’s height has been raised to four-stories, Putera said, for several practical reasons.
“If you have a four-story building, it’s a perceived status increase,” she said. “You’ve got visibility of your logo. We’ve also reduced the actual footprint of the hotel by 28 percent, but we haven’t changed the room count or the size of the rooms. We’ve been able to take a smaller piece of land, with less cost for our developers, and be able to purchase and build a Microtel on that land.”
Also, it has more than 70 percent rentable space
“That’s higher than any other brand in either the economy or mid-scale segment,” she said.
That kind of cost efficiency is very important in the current economic situation, Wilner said.
“Margins are a very big concern for developers right now,” Wilner said. “There’s a perception out there and a reality out there that margins are being compressed, whether it’s because of increased land costs, labor costs, development costs. So, if a developer is able to go into a market with a smaller footprint, a more efficient building, a more efficient operating model they can hit at a higher level. That’s returns, and that’s what a developer wants.”
Existing Wyndham developers have been responsive to the new prototype, he said.
“We had some agreements that were signed with the old prototype, when they saw the relaunch of this new prototype, they are now holding off on breaking ground and are now breaking ground on the new prototype,” Wilner said.
The first Moda hotels are set to break ground in 2019, Wilner and Putera said, and the prototype may see its first opening at this same time next year.
In February, G6 Hospitality unveiled a new design at the American Lodging Investment Summit in Los Angeles that is allows owners to build a Motel 6, a Studio 6 or a dual-brand at one location. Under the new design, owners can more easily convert from a single to a dual-brand property or alter the mix of a dual-brand between rooms for transient guests on their Motel 6 side and suites for extended-stay guests on the Studio 6 side, depending on the business trends they see in their locations, G6 Hospitality Chief Development Officer Mike McGeehan said previously.
There also is no extra construction cost, he said, and hoteliers at ALIS were intrigued.
“The dual-brand offering is very inviting to developers because it gives us the opportunity to attract two different guest segments to fill rooms,” McGeehan said.