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Wyndham Program Aims To Increase Black Hotel Ownership

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is looking to increase Black ownership of hotels.

Black professionals make up fewer than 2% of U.S. hotel owners, but the world's largest hotel franchiser is looking to change that.

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is introducing a program that offers a mix of capital and operational support to Black entrepreneurs seeking to get into hotel ownership, hospitality industry-focused publication Skift reported. The program, titled Black Owners and Lodging Developers also will offer participants access to lenders, brokers, mentors, development partners and discounts with preferred suppliers, Wyndham officials revealed this week during the annual National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers event.

The program's first beneficiary is a developer out of Atlanta named Vaughn Irons, who is breaking ground next year on a 110-room TRYP by Wyndham hotel 17 miles east of Downtown Atlanta in Stonecrest, according to Skift.

The program follows a similar one established by Wyndham earlier this year that targets women entrepreneurs, which has since led to more than a dozen women-owned hotels in the development pipeline.

“Hotel ownership is capital intensive. Any steps to reduce the need for having all of the capital upfront — whether it’s reducing ramp-up costs, franchise fees, loan costs, or other changes to the capital stack — will help boost participation by Black entrepreneurs,” NABHOOD founder and CEO Andy Ingraham told Skift. “This program will address several issues like that on a case-by-case basis, rather than a cookie-cutter approach.”

Hospitality isn't the only industry wrestling with a lack of diversity. Since civil unrest spawned by the 2020 police killings of George Floyd and others, various players in the commercial real estate industry have launched programs that look to encourage Blacks and other minorities to come into the industry.

Earlier this month, the Wells Fargo Foundation selected 27 participants nationwide for its $30M Growing Diverse Housing Developers program that offers grants to help fund the construction and operations of affordable housing communities by Black developers.

There is also a push to increase the pipeline of racial minorities into CRE, but recruitment could continue to be an uphill battle since no institution among the country's Historically Black Colleges and Universities has a real estate major or concentration for bachelor's or graduate degrees, Bisnow found in 2021. These schools face chronic underfunding and a lack of interest by many students to enter the industry.

“Nothing is free. It costs money to set up courses. And then there's always that gamble that students may not be interested. So it's like a Catch-22,” National Historically Black Colleges & Universities Foundation President Ty Couey told Bisnow last year.