To mark IWD 2022, we’ve chosen a number of truly inspirational career women and female founders to feature. Here Julie White, Vice President Commercial for EMEA Wyndham Hotels & Resorts shares her journey and some excellent advice.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I joined Wyndham in early 2020 to lead a new Commercial function operating across Europe, Middle East, Eurasia and Africa (EMEA). I have over 20 years of experience in the global travel industry in a range of Commercial roles with major airlines, consulting, and now hospitality. At Wyndham, my team supports hotels under our brands with revenue driving initiatives, including opportunities for meetings, events, and group travel across the region. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is the world’s largest hotel franchising company by the number of properties, with approximately 9,000 hotels across nearly 95 countries on six continents with an array of options for every traveller.
How have you helped grow Wyndham and what areas are you most interested in supporting and working on within the company for this year?
In 2020 and following into 2021, it was clear we had to do things differently due to the impact of the pandemic. We provided our hotel partners with new products, promotions and tools to address the changes in consumer expectations. These included new BI tools to support revenue management with forward looking data and hotel package products targeting consumers who now could work from hotels in the new hybrid world.
This year I am also keen to grow our already very successful Wyndham Rewards loyalty programme in EMEA, engaging with our existing customers and attracting new members to retain and build our consumer loyalty.
I am also keen to navigate new ideas for business travel to support the recovery of this segment. Early in the pandemic, we established a hybrid meeting solution blending in-person participation with virtual elements to help businesses conduct professional meetings and events moving out of COVID-19. We are continuing to explore a range of flexible and customised options to suit new needs.
How did you achieve awareness for Wyndham Rewards and what are some of the biggest incentives for people to sign up to the loyalty programme?
Wyndham Rewards is the world’s most generous rewards programme, spanning more than 50,000 hotels, vacation club resorts and vacation rentals. We are really proud to have over 92 million members around the world and in order to continue to recognise and keep our loyal members engaged we run fun and generous promotions throughout the year.
For example, we just launched “Member Month,” a month-long initiative celebrating our Wyndham Rewards members with five weeks of exciting deals and discounts, which are available exclusively to them. Every week throughout March, we give our members a new surprise offer. Whether embarking on a bucket-list adventure or staying closer to home, the initiative is designed to reward every type of traveller. It really is our way of saying thank you to our most loyal guests who continue to choose our hotels!
How have you been able to grow how Wyndham operates with technology over the pandemic to make guests feel comfortable travelling with you?
Technology was already playing a key role before the outbreak, but the pandemic certainly accelerated the pace of digital adoption with travellers expecting more streamlined, low-contact experiences. We launched our new Wyndham Hotels & Resorts app in 2020 and we think it could not have arrived at a more critical time. While the app was designed and based on what travellers expect today, it also builds a strong foundation for the future.
The app has enhanced the guest experience with a reimagined way of interaction that prioritises low-contact in-stay functionality, as well as features that simplify the hotel booking process and personalise the overall user experience.
What are your key successes from 2021, and what were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
One of my happiest moments was that first day back to the office to meet with members of my team again – that felt amazing! We had maintained great relationships in a virtual world but nothing compares to having a casual chat, sharing a laugh face-to-face, asking a random question – all the little things that build human connection we all craved so much!
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own journey as women in the hospitality industry, particularly in technology which is field usually seen as male dominated?
Hospitality offers women a huge variety of career journeys – Know that behind every great hotel experience is an army of people supporting the operation with sales, marketing, strategy, HR, finance and technology. The industry is incredibly diverse and global – so you can build a great career path right in your hometown or one that takes you around the world. The choices are really up to you!
When it comes to hospitality technology, remember that good technology makes life easier for everyone – solving points of friction in everyday life through automation. A female perspective is really important in the development of technology solutions as we bring instincts and experiences of how we juggle our roles from the world of work, family and friendships. Trust those instincts and don’t be afraid to contribute them to the solutions as they need to be designed for everyone to be truly effective.
Can you share your top tips for success?
There is no single formula for success as we all start from a different foundation. My success started with great guidance from my parents who instilled a solid work ethic, confidence to express my opinions, and opportunities to learn and explore the world.
Anyone’s success also comes from the people that surround them. Choose your team carefully to balance both skillset and culture. I put trust in my teams but also push their boundaries by challenging them – sometimes asking to do more than they think may be possible.
Before a big presentation, interview or meeting – find a quiet space to reflect – remind yourself you are confident, capable and have every right to be successful in that moment – then go in there and give it all you got!
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
Of course my mother is at the heart of all things as she taught me compassion and to demand quality but also to balance the two – when faced with a puzzle, I often think “how would she approach this?”
Our Wyndham Hotels & Resorts CFO Michelle Allen – she’s a fantastic role model for women in hospitality and any industry.
The actress Joanna Lumley – her infamous role as Patsy was hysterically funny, breaking comedy boundaries, and her more recent programmes exploring the world are an inspiration to travel, teaching us to explore and enjoy life. I’d love to have a glass of wine with her!
American Chef Alice Waters – her ethos to combine the best fresh quality local ingredients without overcomplicating things showed me that being simple and respectful is often the best approach for food or anything.
My Golden Retriever Gibson, who wakes every morning with such a sense of joy to greet the day, it’s amazing!
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness” – Mark Twain
“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear” – AA Milne, Winnie the Pooh
What are your links?