Group’s president for China is on a mission to engage millennials in the hospitality industry
By partnering with a consumer drone maker and setting up themed rooms, Liu Chenjun, Wyndham Hotel Group’s president and managing director for China, is hoping to engage millennials in a way that could become a game changer for the whole industry.
“The hospitality industr y has been too quiet for the past few decades,” said Liu, who is now managing a portfolio of 11 brands and close to 1,400 hotels in China. “I want to be a disrupter and stir up some changes by crossing over with some unlikely but fitting partners.”
Founded in 1981 and headquartered in New Jersey, the world’s largest hotel company by room number last year saw upwards of 250 new WGH hotels throwing their doors open on the Chinese mainland.
While the pace of nationwide expansion is unlikely to slow down over the coming year, if not accelerate, Liu, a former diplomat, wants to help hotel owners to sell rooms in a different manner.
“There is no point in telling the brand stories of each of our 19 brands (eight have yet to be introduced to China). Young people today won’t listen to it,” Liu said in an interview after the group’s annual forum in late June. The event gathers thousands of hoteliers, investors and managers in the industry.
“We want to create a conversation with millennials, talking with them in a language that they appreciate and finding out what they want,” he said.
Consulting firm Agility Research & Strategy found that millennials in Asia make an average of 4.2 leisure trips every year, ranking highest among all age groups. Social media research drives 62 percent of the generation’s destination decisions and 75 percent post about their trip online at least once while traveling.
The new “language” Liu has adopted aims to inspire social media-addicted millennials to take pictures and share them online.
In 2014, months after he was appointed the helmsman of the group, Liu and his team organized a gala, inviting more than 40 domestic celebrities to Beijing’s Imperial Ancestor’s Temple, a historical site dating back to 1420. The grandest publicity stunt in the hotel industry in China by far, the event secured more than 170 million online views within seven months and is believed to have increased the group’s brand awareness by 30 percent.
The hospitality industry doesn’t lack professionals ... but it is hard to find a trendsetter or game changer.”
Liu Chenjun, Wyndham Hotel Group’s president and managing director for China
“That’s the crossover 1.0 version, to let more Chinese know about Wyndham. Today, we have moved into the next version, to get people to stay at Wyndham,” Liu said.
There are no concrete plans for how many of the group’s hun- RoadTripsGuides
in Australia, a shrine for surfers, is included in the recommended routes in the launched by online transportation service Didi Chuxing in cooperation with 13 countries’ tourism authorities.
Wyndham Hotel Group has decided to add more elements to attract young guests, including cartoon-themed decorations.