According to Geoff Ballotti, the president and CEO of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, more than 20% of Black Americans are involved in business ownership. However, less than two percent of U.S. hotels are Black-owned.
Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, the world’s largest hotel franchise company, sporting more than 8,900 hotels in 95-plus countries on six continents, is working to increase the number of Black-owned U.S. hotels through its BOLD By Wyndham initiative to engage and advance more Black entrepreneurs on the path to hotel ownership.
“We’re a public company, we want to see more Black Americans own and develop hotels, and we said as the world’s largest franchisor, with all of the resources that are out there from an industry standpoint and all of our contacts, what can we do to really expand Black hotel ownership?” Ballotti told BLACK ENTERPRISE.
“How can we expand and help whatever challenges that Black Americans that want to get into the business are having?”
Ballotti added that Wyndham created the BOLD initiative to help and support Black entrepreneurs interested in the hotel industry and accelerate those already familiar with the benefits of hotel ownership, offering the tools and guidance to help Black entrepreneurs profit and succeed.
Wyndham’s BOLD Initiative was founded on two key building blocks: attracting more Black entrepreneurs to hotel ownership by promoting it as a vehicle for wealth creation and accelerating the path to hotel ownership.
Through BOLD, Black entrepreneurs will participate in Wyndham-sponsored networking and educational events and receive resources designed to help explore hotel ownership and what it takes to be a successful hotelier. During the events, participants will have the chance to learn more about ownership, common barrier and how to overcome them, tips for securing financing, and more.
For those already in the industry, the BOLD Initiative will provide qualified members with access to enhanced capital and operational support; financing opportunities, including lender introductions; and discounts with preferred suppliers. Additionally, eligible members will be invited to participate in signature BOLD Incubator events, connecting them with committed lenders and brokers and offering the opportunity to explore partner/joint venture opportunities and package development deals that come with additional capital support.
The BOLD Initiative already has its inaugural member in Vaughn Irons, who was awarded a new 110-room TRYP by Wyndham franchise hotel in the Atlanta suburb of Stonecrest, Georgia.
Irons, who has been in the finance industry for more than two decades, including a stint at Freddie Mac and several other nonprofits, has been working on the development of the Mall at Stonecrest for five years. He told BLACK ENTERPRISE that he initially wanted to partner with Wyndham, who brought up the idea of him owning the hotel.
“I explained to Wyndham in a long email my business plan with attachments and I actually got a phone call back from Wyndham within 24 hours,” Irons told BLACK ENTERPRISE.
“So I sent the email, I think, on a Tuesday, and I got a callback Wednesday, and we actually went through the conversation, and the next Wednesday, a person from Wyndham flew to Atlanta to walk the site with me, so within eight days of me sending an email I had a Wyndham representative on the site who essentially was validating and confirming the information I shared, and they were interested in our vision enough to take that expense and make it as urgent as I needed it to be.”
The hotel will significantly enhance Stonecrest Resorts’ current $17 million adaptive reuse project, Priví, which is transforming The Mall at Stonecrest into a family entertainment and lifestyle destination that will be a Black-owned development, including a Black-owned hotel in a majority-Black city.
Priví includes a health and wellness complex, fine art gallery, bookstore, coffee shop, an incubator for creatives, a 5,000 sq. ft. events facility, a food hall, museum, fashion designer emporium, and expanded family entertainment. These elements will increase the total investment of the Priví project to $35 million, with the hotel expected to break ground in early 2023.
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