For the industry’s grande dame hotels, it’s all about aging gracefully. But over in New Jersey, where Days Inn by Wyndham makes its home in Parsippany, it’s going to be all about the facelift as it hits 50 in 2020.
The brand is launching a design program dubbed Dawn that will zero in on revamping the 1,400-plus properties under its flag in the United States and is presenting the new guestroom look to owners, operators and developers during Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ annual global conference in Las Vegas.
In an exclusive design reveal and interview with Hotel Management, brand SVP Patrick Breen, Senior Director of Marketing Anthony Pizzuto and Senior Design Manager Annabelle Petriella delivered insight on the strategic move for the legacy brand started by Cecil B. Day in 1970 and how Days Inn will be positioned for the future.
Focus on Quality
“For many, many years Days Inn grew aggressively and that was perfect for the business model of the time. The goal now is to grow it, but the focus is on quality,” Breen told HM, noting he wants to continue to build on the guest experience.
In 2018, Wyndham President/CEO Geoff Ballotti and the brand team decided “something meaningful” needed to be done for Days Inn. “We had the benefit of seeing the outcome of our Super 8 efforts on the Innov8te [guestroom-design refresh] side,” said Breen, which helped improve the economy brand’s guest-satisfaction and quality scores, as well as its financial performance. Historically, the conversion-centric Days Inn’s point of difference for potential franchisees was their ability to keep much of their serviceable furniture, fixtures and equipment in place when they reflagged. “It made Days Inn a very easy and affordable branding option, and it worked for the longest time. Then we realized we could do better,” Breen said.
“Better” will include the redesign of Days Inn guestrooms (excluding the bathrooms, which will be part of an overall corporate initiative) that Breen sees as a 180-degree departure from traditional hotel rooms that feature dark casegoods in somewhat somber interiors.
“At Days Inn, we’re the brand of summertime and sun and energy,” he said, noting the color scheme with cool blues, pops of yellow, white bedding and light-tone casegoods and walls energizes the Dawn guestroom, which also will feature a regional triptych above the bed. “We want people to love the imagery and that will really be the cornerstone of the room,” Breen said. The panels will range up to 15 feet wide and 3 feet high.
Owners will have a choice of either carpeting or luxury vinyl tile for rooms, depending on their market and needs. LVT will not be a mandated element of the Dawn design; however, Breen sees it as very popular with more and more owners headed in that direction.
The overall look was created by Days Inn’s internal design team and New York City-based TPG Architecture, whose work includes projects for brands like Birkenstock, Eataly and Spotify. “They were excited by the challenge of bringing strong, forward-thinking design to an economy brand with a diverse portfolio,” Petriella said.
“At every stage of the design process, we worked with our internal teams and leadership, as well as our Franchise Advisory Council, to ensure we were on the right path and that we were considering the project from all angles. The full process took nine months from concept to completion,” Petriella said.
The guest-facing brand promise is “Making every day brighter,” and Pizzuto believes the new Dawn initiative “quite literally will help make our guests’ days brighter through a welcoming and light room—a departure from the darker palette of yesterday.”
Breen stressed the brand is “sensitive” to the needs of its franchisees who may have recently renovated one or more of their Days Inns, so the Dawn program will be rolled out in three phases between now and 2027. “We hope that in eight years the vast majority of Days Inns will have most, if not all, of this entire package,” said Breen, who is looking to have “a degree of consistency that does not currently exist within the brand…a visual thread that runs through all of our hotels that we can then market against.”
“We have a commitment to the guest experience and ensuring that our guests not only try our brand, but come back again and again,” Pizzuto said. “Creating consistency is key and Dawn will be essential in allowing us to elevate Days Inn and, ultimately, the guest experience, to new levels.”
Breen also sees the new design’s potential for bringing added value to owners in terms of driving rate and occupancy, as well as enhancing the guest experience.
The first mandatory phase, which will roll out at the conference (where a model room will be on display; model rooms also are being put together at a Days Inn near Wyndham’s headquarters to evaluate the phase-one and complete design, as well as the vendor products) includes selecting and installing the regional imagery and a new, white, crinkled top sheet. Petriella indicated these items are expected to cost less than $500 per key. The complete Dawn package is set to come in under $5,000 per key.
“We’ve created a bright, light-filled, uncluttered room that is as versatile as it is durable, which is essential for owners who are looking to maximize their investment,” Petriella said. “It’s really unlike anything you’re seeing in the segment today, giving travelers—particularly families—an inviting space where they can unwind [and] relax.”
“This is the dawn of a new day,” observed Breen. “This is the beginning of our next 50 years.”