PARSIPPANY, NJ—World wise, innovative and caring--isn’t that what every successful hotel executive strives to be? While some must work hard at it, for others it comes naturally. And the latter is precisely the case with Daniel del Olmo, brand senior VP of TRYP by Wyndham.
The rising star has come a long way from Genk, a small town in Belgium where he was born and raised. By the age of 2 years old, del Olmo was already taking road trips with his family and could claim he was well traveled before he even reached college. It is this unique experience that sparked his love of the hospitality industry and gives del Olmo a worldly perspective, as well as an open mind, as he continues to modernize not just our businesses, but also how we get business done.
“I can remember traveling with my dad for work as a young child. I was staying in these hotels with pools and televisions in my room and thought it was magical,” recounted del Olmo. “I ventured beyond Belgium to Africa and North America, and started to understand people and different cultures at a young age. I realized how fortunate I was, and it is this worldly view that I believe is incredibly helpful in business,” he said.
A creative thinker and an innovator in almost any role given, del Olmo’s resume reads like someone who is not afraid to try new things. In his 14-year hospitality career he has held a variety of positions in marketing, e-commerce and business strategy. In addition, he is fluent in English, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Dutch.
But that is not to say that he did not have a humble beginning in this industry. Del Olmo’s first job was at a local McDonalds in Belgium, a position he recalled with fondness.
“It was the 20th McDonalds to open in Belgium and 650 people applied for 65 jobs. I was starting college and was lucky enough to get a position,” he said. While he was offered a management role, del Olmo decided to focus on college and took a lesser position there. “I worked at McDonalds three years. Without knowing it, it gave me insight on the franchising business—the products and the service side. I can still remember watching training videos on my break on how to clean my station,” he said.
A true innovator
In 1997 he landed a job in the Americas Division at Sol Melia Hotels & Resorts where he spearheaded the launch of Club Amigos, Sol Melia’s travel agent loyalty program that enabled the company to sign up 18,000 travel professionals in less than five months. It was the first of its kind. In addition he was responsible for “MAS,” the company’s frequent guest program in the Americas. Both programs were innovative by industry standards at the time. While there, he received Travel Agent magazine’s Rising Star Award in 1999, 2000 and 2001.
After Sol Melia, del Olmo spent some time working at Amadeus Global Travel Distribution. While there, he developed an integrated regional marketing campaign for Latin America, which was later adopted as Amadeus’ global advertising campaign. He also created and organized a “Building Our Future Together”-themed customer road show for 21 markets, which led to several new agency deals and high agency engagement scores.
Landing at Wyndham
In 2002, del Olmo landed at Wyndham, heading up marketing for a new brand at the time, Wingate. His worldly view and GDS background was indeed different from most marketing managers at the company, he said. As a result, one of his first moves was to help Wingate gain a foothold with the travel agent community by signing a partnership with Avis and then becoming only one of three hotel chains to join AMEX Open, American Express’ small business credit card program.
The hard-working executive went on to hold several positions at Wyndham, including VP, international marketing and strategy; VP, global strategy and innovation; and chief performance officer. It is this last position where he was given the opportunity to work closely with newly named president and CEO at the time, Eric Danziger.
“Together with other executives, we developed a five-year strategic plan to grow the company into the world’s leading hotel company in size, customer value and performance. That plan is still being used today,” said del Olmo.
Now del Olmo has a new focus. As brand senior VP of TRYP by Wyndham, he is responsible for the overall business strategy and growth of the 92-property international chain acquired from Sol Melia Hotels & Resorts in July 2010.
“It’s been an incredible year for us with the integration of the TRYP brand into the Wyndham portfolio. And this deal is unique in that we are absorbing the brand but still have a relationship with Sol Melia enabling TRYP the advantage of being sold on two platforms,” he said.
He is speaking of the 20-year strategic alliance Wyndham signed with Sol Melia Hotels & Resorts to cooperatively grow and market the TRYP brand through both companies’ central reservations systems and loyalty programs.
Did del Olmo’s former work experience at Sol Melia help foster the TRYP deal? When asked, del Olmo said he was not to credit for the transaction.
“I left Sol Melia when TRYP was young and had no real presence,” he noted. “I was not familiar with it.” But that is not to say that his time at Sol Melia will not help TRYP going forward. In fact, it may be quite the opposite.
“I have a bit of an advantage being charged with the task of growing a brand together with Sol Melia, a company whose culture I understand and have navigated, and whose people I know well,” said del Olmo.
He described the brand as “having a unique DNA.”
“It was born and bred in Spain and has a Mediterranean flavor,” he said. “We are bringing that same DNA to North America.”
The next TRYP will hit the cosmopolitan city of New York in August. Other cities of interest for a TRYP hotel include Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Mexico City, among others, according to del Olmo.
The approach to the TRYP brand’s continued growth somewhat mirrors that to del Olmo’s own business philosophy. He too projects a worldly view, and works closely with his colleagues— even those outside the box that is required—to continue to be successful in his career. He is a creative thinker and collaborator who seeks holistic solutions to any and all challenges that come his way and encourages other to do the same.
“I would call myself an ‘intra-preneur’ at heart. I work best in an environment—just like TRYP—where I am able to function as a start-up while being backed up by the vast and talented resources of Wyndham Worldwide,” he said. He noted the importance of collaborating with colleagues both vertically and horizontally, going to unexpected places to get differing views, and operating every day with integrity.
While he always thought his dream was to be the CEO of a hotel company one day, he now believes it is more important to “enjoy the career path you are on and the people you touch.”
Even if he doesn’t pursue his youthful dream of becoming the CEO of a hotel company, this young hotel executive’s innovation, collaboration and world view are a gift to our industry, a gift that will allow him to continue to transform it in the years to come.