Barry Robinson is President and Managing Director, International Operations of Wyndham Destinations, a division of Travel + Leisure Co. (TNL:NYSE). Based in Singapore, Barry leads Wyndham Destinations’ growth outside North America.

Wyndham Destinations Asia Pacific:
• Has corporate offices across Singapore, China, Philippines, Australia and Japan
• Sells interests in Club Wyndham South Pacific, Club Wyndham Asia and Innovative Holiday Club by Club Wyndham
• Serves close to 71,000 members
• Manages a portfolio of 53 club resorts and eight pure-play hotels
• Employs close to 3,000 associates
• Operates a consumer finance portfolio of over AU$230 million

Rather than divesting, downsizing and waiting for conditions to improve, Barry saw the COVID-19 period as a time to take risks, change practices and make improvements so the business emerged stronger. With the world now reopening, this bold approach is paying off.

Lifestyle program relaunch
Barry is a visionary who has always wanted to make vacation ownership about more than owning holidays. In 2007, Wyndham launched Privileges by Wyndham, a tiered membership program for Club Wyndham South Pacific owners to exchange their credits for other benefits. In 2017, Barry led the development Lifestyle by Wyndham, an e-commerce site with exclusive offers and discounts for club members.

Unfortunately, as the Privileges program grew, some structural problems emerged behind the scenes, which affected its bottom line. Barry saw COVID-19 as an opportunity to rework both programs and merge them. The tiered program, now called Lifestyle Benefits, offers lower standard fees across the tiers, five new benefits and a reworking of some benefits to fix the behind-the-scenes issues.

The e-commerce platform, Lifestyle Offers, features thousands of discounts from over 180 big brands with savings of up to 63%. Record transactions have been made through 2021; almost AU$2 million of digital store cards have been sold.

Resort developments
Barry saw the lower occupancy during COVID-19 not just as an opportunity to fix pain points, but gain ground. An AU$25 million development to double the size of Club Wyndham Flynns Beach started beforehand but continued throughout COVID-19. These 53 new one to four-bedroom villas – designated Deluxe, Grand and Presidential – have now opened to high occupancy, suggesting the decision to forge ahead was sound.

Other refurbishments updating design, furniture and flooring also continued or began in:
• 53 apartments at Club Wyndham Airlie Beach
• 88 apartments at Club Wyndham Port Douglas
• 132 existing and recently acquired villas at Club Wyndham Phillip Island, where some were converted to Grand and Deluxe standard
• 39 apartments at Club Wyndham Ballarat
• Reception at Club Wyndham Kirra Beach and Club Wyndham Dinner Plain

The biggest refurbishment occurred at Club Wyndham Denarau Island. The Fiji resort recently re-opened after an extensive project including the transformation of food and beverage outlets, replacement of in-room whitegoods, upgrades to the children’s playground, purchase of an inflatable movie screen, repairs to the beachfront rock wall and excavation on the beach, refurbishment of the hot pool, gym and pool restrooms, ongoing sustainability initiatives and repairs onsite.

Resort experiences
One of Barry’s big focuses during COVID-19 was ensuring resorts adequately conveyed the ‘club’ feeling. Properties across the portfolio have rolled out more than 100 free activities for club members, including complimentary surfboards, bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters, stand up paddle boards, pedal boats and fishing equipment, depending on the location. Bigger projects include a hobby farm at Seven Mile Beach, a gold mining sluice at ‘gold rush’ town Ballarat and a special pedal cart circuit, inflatable movie screen, jumping castle and fire pit at Phillip Island.

Most of the food and beverage outlets managed by Wyndham have released new and improved menus across the course of the year, while resorts at Kirra Beach, Flynns Beach and Surfers Paradise have launched outlets for the first time.

All these are factors in the improvement of resort stays across the portfolio from 8.43 in 2020 to 8.53 this year.

Club Wyndham TV and Zoom engagement
Improved communication also helped inform owners about these changes. During the lockdown stage of the pandemic, Barry’s creative team ramped up production to provide entertainment and resources for owners, including exercise routines and recipes from resort chefs. When travel restrictions started easing, new videos featured domestic holiday ideas, road trip itineraries and local secrets. Club Wyndham TV has continued at Barry’s direction with over 2,000 monthly views.

The Customer Experience team also set up live Zoom sessions to provide members with information while owners were housebound and these have continued. The team educated over twice as many members (6,683) this year than in 2020.

Social responsibility
Throughout, Barry ensures the business remains grounded in responsible practice. Wyndham has eliminated plastic straws, balloons, biros and packaging, while rolling out bamboo swipe cards and wheat straw pens. It has also reduced its corporate paper consumption by 80 per cent and recycles tonnes of resort furniture each year.