Feel Safe — There’s an element of feeling safe that then allows you to be in a positive mindset when you travel. In a world with thousands of hotel brands available, guests look to names they trust, like Wyndham, which they associate with a brand that cares about their guests — giving them peace of mind and a reason to return again and again.
As part of my series about “How To Create A Travel Experience That Keeps People Coming Back For More”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dana Rosenberg.
Dana Rosenberg is senior vice president of Marketing at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, the world’s largest hotel franchising company with approximately 9,100 across 24 brands spanning more than 95 countries.
An accomplished marketing leader with nearly 20 years of experience developing loyalty programs, elevating customer engagement, and building strategic partnerships, Dana has been recognized as a creative visionary and thought leader. Prior to joining Wyndham, Dana served as senior vice president, Global Issuer Loyalty, Data & Services for Mastercard, where she drove enterprise-wide travel recovery efforts to increase customer/cardholder engagement. Prior to Mastercard, she served as vice president of Global Partnerships at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, where she held several strategic marketing roles including, managed and operationalized partnerships supporting the Starwood Preferred Guest program.
Dana holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University and a Master of Business Administration degree in Marketing and Strategic Management from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in Westchester, NY with her husband and three daughters. She is passionate about sports, traveling, baking, and a good cup of coffee.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’m an electrical engineer by degree, but if you can tell that I’m probably not doing my job correctly. I realized before attending business school that I really love the combination of strategy and execution — whatever it takes to roll up my sleeves to get it done. Having my first daughter, Jenna, who turns 16 next month, is what truly brought me to hospitality. I joined Starwood, consulting just three-days a week, which allowed me to pair my passion for partnerships and sponsorships with my love of the world of culture, including sports, music, entertainment, culinary, and travel. This is what eventually brought me to Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, the world’s largest hotel franchising company known for its diverse 24-brand portfolio spanning every segment of the industry. Working with good people on great brands is such a priority for me and Wyndham really checks all those boxes.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I still remember a hilarious interaction when I was just an associate brand manager working on the Planters brand right out of business school. I was taking a road trip with my family in Colorado, when we stopped at a convenience store for a snack. I noticed one of the brands I was working on at the time — Planters Trail Mix — was being sold in the old packaging that was out of date, so I took them all off the shelf, handed them to this poor convenience store clerk and told him he couldn’t sell them. My family was laughing at me hysterically and told me I shouldn’t take things like this so personally, but I felt so strongly and passionately about the work I launched that I was committed to make sure the customers had the freshest tasting nuts and the most up-to-date packaging.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I’m grateful to the many mentors throughout my career who gave me the freedom and reign to do more than what my job title allowed. Whether that was as an associate brand manager for Planters, at Starwood closing deals for the very first time, or Mastercard, having never worked in Finance. For me, being given trust, and sometimes in that case, blind trust, has allowed me to succeed the most in my career.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My father taught me to use my mouth for greater good, not for backtalk, and I am so grateful to him for that. He exposed me to the business world throughout my childhood and would let me come into the office and sit in on meetings with him. It was in those meetings where he encouraged me to always speak up, ask questions, and never feel ashamed to speak because of my age or gender. Being a woman in a field dominated by men has been never on my radar because of these types of situations I was exposed to growing up in a safe environment where I could participate. I strive to share what I’ve learned with my teams and colleagues, and to always encourage and help lift others to achieve their dreams.
Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?
Our mission at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is to make hotel travel possible for all. We take that into account in everything we do, from how we execute our marketing strategy all the way through to how we integrate design and architecture at our properties. We know there are different needs depending on who you are, where you are going, or why. There might be a time where a very efficient Microtel is exactly what I need, or there are times I want a luxurious vacation with my husband at the Wyndham Grand in Clearwater. Because of our 24 brands, award winning loyalty program, which just welcomed its 100 millionth member, and the fact that we have a hotel for everyone and every occasion, we truly are the hotel company for the everyday traveler.
Last year, we launched Road Trip Planner — an innovative new tool allowing travelers to seamlessly plot, plan and directly book their ideal road trip via Wyndham’s award-winning, mobile app. The Wyndham mobile app currently has over 5.5 million downloads. Additionally, the pandemic dramatically accelerated guest demand for digital payment solutions and that trend will only continue in the coming years. To meet the needs of both our guests and owners, we unveiled a new, portfolio-wide, mobile tipping solution for our U.S. and Canadian franchisees, making Wyndham one of the first major hotel companies to do so.
Looking ahead, some of our top priorities in terms of innovation include enhancing our digital touchpoints. Whether that’s on the web or the app, we are trying to bring all the information that we have around the guest and member together to deliver the best member experience to that guest, regardless of how they’re trying to interact with us.
When it comes to our loyalty program, Wyndham Rewards, we want to make sure we’re serving members to the best of our ability with what we know that they want. We’re being smart in enhancing our guest and member journey from a marketing and contact strategy perspective to make sure that we are delivering the right message at the right time in the right channel to the right member. It’s beneficial to the member because they’re not receiving messages that don’t relate to them. But it’s also good for business because we know it translates into more member engagement and therefore higher conversion. We leverage Wyndham Rewards to bring together travelers and create a real community that is centered around values, validation, and connection. That’s why we’re looking at loyalty through a new lens by seeking out new partnerships that allow members to further engage with the program — even when they’re not traveling — through a variety of everyday activities and expanding the program with redemption options that make it easy and attainable for everyone.
As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share a few examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?
During the pandemic, we put a lot of effort into unveiling new advancements for our guests. The everyday traveler — essential workers — filled a majority of our hotels during the pandemic, which prompted us to roll out enhanced technologies that allowed for contactless options. For example, COVID-19 sped up the adoption of QR codes across all generations. Technology continues to be our greatest ally. Through a travel perspective, there will be certain elements of information that are now delivered through technology that the pandemic helped speed up, because people were forced to interact that way.
We have also identified that people are now working and traveling differently. It’s something I call “workcation.” If you think about the term, “bleisure,” it’s about leisure following business, but what you really look forward to is the leisure part of it. Now, workcation is a marriage of the two. Don’t get me wrong, vacation is still the important part at the end of the day, but because of technology we have the ability to work anywhere. Not only because of the Zoom, Teams, etc., but also just of where we are in the world around internet proliferation. You can pretty much go to the majority of the world and have reliable Internet service — and with Wyndham’s large global footprint, that works in our favor.
You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?
A true vacation is where I can turn off and not have to make any decisions all day. For me, that’s a combination of adventure and R&R. I love vacations where I need to sign a waiver to do something adventurous, but the other half of the trip I can sit back and do whatever I want — like working out, taking long runs, reading a book, or having a drink.
I’ll use this to plug some of our amazing new all-inclusive resorts that I highly recommend visiting and experiencing all the things I just mentioned. Last year, we significantly grew our presence in the all-inclusive space, adding 14 new resorts to our luxury Registry Collection Hotels brand. Wyndham’s all-inclusive portfolio now includes nearly 30 amazing properties spread across Mexico, the Caribbean, Latin America, with more resorts on the way.
Travel is not always about escaping, but about connecting. Have you made efforts to cultivate a more wellness driven experience? We’d love to hear about it.
No matter who you are, where you’re going or why, there’s a Wyndham waiting. For me, if we’re truly thinking about connecting, it’s about providing an inclusive environment where people feel comfortable being themselves and being recognized, which then allows for authentic connection. At Wyndham, we offer experiences for everyone, no matter who or where you are. Wellness can mean a lot of different things to different people. It truly could just mean about connecting over a meal or it could be about having a meeting while taking a walk. We’re making sure that a lot of our properties where people would want to do these things, we’re providing the environment where they can.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a travel experience that keeps bringing people back for more? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Have a simple and attainable loyalty program — Wyndham Rewards prides itself on being one of the simplest, most generous rewards programs in the world. I don’t think you should need to have an advanced degree to understand the key components of the program and what’s more, it shouldn’t be impossible for you earn and redeem the rewards you actually want. Designed for the everyday traveler, the program spans more than 50,000 hotels, vacation club resorts and vacation rentals worldwide and members can redeem points for a wide-range of rewards, like free nights, online shopping, tours & activities. Best of all, members can earn points even when they’re not traveling through everyday purchases with the Wyndham Rewards Earner Card.
- To be recognized — Recognition comes in different ways since guests are not created equal. You could be celebrating a special occasion once a year or be an essential worker who is on the road 300 days of the year. Regardless of the reason or why you are traveling we know that a loyalty program should make guests feel like valued members of your hotel family.
- Give options — Wyndham caters to all the ways people stay when they travel — think roadside hotels with all the essentials… welcoming resorts with inviting pools and sandy beaches … multi-bedroom vacation rental homes big enough for the whole family… and virtually everything in-between. You can drive across the country, or on a family trip, you can stay at our brands all up and down the interstates of America, or all across the world. There truly is a Wyndham option for everyone.
- Inspire — Over the last several years, Wyndham has added to an already robust portfolio of aspirational hotels and resorts, introducing new offerings in some of the world’s most popular and sought-after destinations. From the Wyndham Alltra in Cancun to the La Quinta by Wyndham Dubai Bur Dubai and the upcoming opening of Dolce by Wyndham Versailles — we are making aspirational travel possible for the masses.
- Feel Safe — There’s an element of feeling safe that then allows you to be in a positive mindset when you travel. In a world with thousands of hotel brands available, guests look to names they trust, like Wyndham, which they associate with a brand that cares about their guests — giving them peace of mind and a reason to return again and again.
Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I try to bring goodness into the world by being my true authentic self every single day. By that, I mean making it okay to bring your authentic self to work to conversations to meetings and relationships every single day. I also hope that my three girls see that mommy isn’t always perfect, but that I am trying to do the best I can, and they can do the same, without the stress of having to feel the need to be perfect.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I want to create a movement around being active with your work team. Like travel, I think being in active situations with colleagues gives you a whole different insight and level into people and a shared experience. So, whether it’s a ropes course, a spin class, a hike and even a face-to-face conversation instead of over Zoom, I think that there’s a role for moving our bodies and in bringing it into the work environment.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!