From the Inside… with Paul Mason

Paul_Mason_headshot resizedPaul Mason has been with the Wyndham Hotel Group and Cendant since November 2002. Paul’s 30 year career in the hotel and tourism industry has included National and Global positions with Red Roof Inns and Spirit Cruises as well as stints as a Director of Sales and Marketing at individual locations in the North East. Paul’s primary focus has always been tourism, with strong emphasis on the international inbound market. As a Global Sales Director for Wyndham, Paul handles Operators in the Domestic and International Tour Market arena for North America and manages Strategic Partners on a Global level.  He represents 16 brands and 8,000 locations under the Wyndham Hotel Group umbrella throughout the world.

Paul’s professional career has allowed him to have an integral role with numerous tourism industry associations. He has participated on panels with ABA, NTA and SYTA and has served on the RSAA/ IITA Board as the Lodging Representative and on the Advisory Council for the Board. He has served on the ITSA Board, ABA Education Committee, ABA MAC Committee and RSAA/ IITA Event and Membership Committee. Paul is honored to have served on the IPW Planning Committee since 2013.

Paul is proud to have received the ITSA Associate of the Year Award in 2004, the RSAA Outstanding Achievement in Operations Award in 2009 and was nominated for the Prestigious Stanley Fisher Award in 2010. In 2012, Paul received The Sales Representative of the Year Award for his team with Wyndham Global Sales.

Paul has two children, a son Jack 20 and a daughter Marlee 16 and is very proud of their accomplishments in education, extracurricular activities and personal life.

What trends are you seeing in the hotel and lodging industry (in general)? And specifically with international travel for your hotels?

People are thinking differently about how they travel. In the next 10 years, the global middle class is expected to more than double from 2 billion to 4.9 billion and Millennials will represent 60 percent of our guests. At the same time, the $7 trillion global travel and tourism industry is growing faster than the global economy with contributions to the global GDP expecting to rise from $7.1 to $11 trillion. These are seismic shifts that tell us travel is on the rise, but for groups with limited discretionary income who seek value but still expect great experiences. We believe everyone, no matter how much they spend on travel, has the right to an amazing trip. That’s why we’ve embarked on a strategic transformation to redefine our brand experiences. Wyndham Hotel Group is changing the game so every single traveler – no matter how much they spend or how they like to travel – has the extraordinary experience they deserve.

Wyndham Hotel Group is making a concerted effort to use dynamic connections as a more viable option for our partners and our hotels. This helps us connect to partners all over the world as travelers become more savvy with technology and booking systems. In China, for example, we are seeing major domestic travel as well as inbound travel to the U.S. Chinese travelers are fans of our brands because they run the gamut; travelers can find anything they are looking for with us, we are growing to meet that need.

 Why is it important to work with inbound tour operators to develop international business?

We value our relationships with inbound tour operators immensely. With their network, staff, technology and ability to reach further, combined with their incredible market expertise, inbound tour operators are major partners for us, helping us reach thousands of operators throughout the world.

What is unique about working with inbound/receptive operators? What advice do you have for other hoteliers and/or suppliers in general on working with ITOs? Any advice for inbound tour operators working with hotels?

In my opinion, inbound tour operators manage a specialty market that, often times, people in our industry just don’t understand – and these partnerships can be vital to a hotel. ITOs reach clients we may not normally touch, can help in all market seasons, and offer flexibility in rate as well as many different agreement and connection programs.  They also have a longer booking window and longer length of stay – all things that are very unique to our industry. I would advise other hoteliers or suppliers to look at this opportunity as a tool to improve your base. Working with ITOs is a relationship-driven effort and often results in loyal partners.  Identify your market needs, attractions for your hotel and talk to them about how they can help you with year round and weekday business.  ITOs can help you reach new guests in other regions through research and partnership.

For tour operators working with hotels, my advice is simple: create a partnership.  It takes lots of communication, but involving your GSO or National Representative when talking with hotels and negotiating agreements is a major advantage.  It is our job to open the door and make sure the process is seamless. Hotels are also trying to reach goals for occupancy and revenue and will work with you to reach those goals as long as opportunities are relevant.   Any research and data you can share to show them how you can truly help them and why your business model will work in their environment goes a long way.