How Wyndham Destinations' acquisition of Travel+Leisure redefined an iconic brand and business
Crisis can pave the path for reinvention. Few industries have been more affected by the global pandemic than travel and hospitality. During this sea change moment, Wyndham Destinations seized an opportunity to reimagine its business.
In 2020, DeSantis Breindel began working closely with Wyndham Destinations as it sought to diversify its business beyond vacation timeshares and modernize leisure travel for the contemporary culture enthusiast—all while signaling expansion and growth to Wall Street. This led to the landmark acquisition of Travel + Leisure in January 2021.
This acquisition reimagined the potential for Wyndham Destinations’ business and brand experience: from a timeshare business to a premium lifestyle brand—henceforth known as Travel + Leisure—fueled by rich content, a travel booking engine, and a trusted name.
Collaborating closely with Wyndham Destinations’ leadership, DeSantis Breindel developed the end-to-end brand for the revamped Travel + Leisure: from a distinct positioning and identity, to ongoing digital and experiential expressions of the brand, to the migration of offerings under the Travel + Leisure banner.
We employed some key lessons and best practices along the way.
During any acquisition, we must determine what’s left behind, what’s carried forward, and what evolves. The synergy between Wyndham Destinations and Travel + Leisure—anchored in complementary business and brand strengths, as well as a shared purpose to put the world on vacation—multiplied opportunities and demanded choices.
Most importantly, this union brought together Travel + Leisure’s awe-inspiring, trusted content and travel clubs and Wyndham’s expertise, infrastructure, relationships, and technology platforms, creating a virtuous cycle of dreaming and doing represented in the new positioning: “Turning Inspiration Into Reality.”
There were also some important decisions to make. For example, the business adopted “Travel and Leisure” as the brand name for the corporate entity with TNL as its Wall Street ticker symbol, as well as the name for the consumer-facing brand.
With Travel + Leisure as the consumer brand, it was critical to create a frictionless experience for consumers.
We developed a singular visual identity for Travel + Leisure that was optimized for digital and OOH applications and that helped ensure consistency across an omnichannel ecosystem. This identity included a wordmark immediately recognizable to millions, revived with a vibrant, inviting color palette and a striking photography style that cues global and cultural breadth.
Steeped in the brand positioning, a set of principles guided interactions and experiences between Travel + Leisure and its users. In particular, it was important for the brand to make vacation a state of mind and to continuously listen and respond to consumer needs.
Led by these principles, DB was able to ensure that consumers and their changing behaviors were central to every subsequent business and brand decision. It also meant shaping the experience to ensure consumers could access the Travel + Leisure brand whether they were at home or abroad.
Be a Change Agent
The nature of this acquisition enabled DeSantis Breindel to affect more than just the brand identity. We’re continuing to help Travel + Leisure navigate new waters as the business diversifies its revenue streams through a D2C platform, licensing deals for T+L branded products, a subscription travel club, and several other growth initiatives at various stages of development.
With these business investments, the opportunity for Travel + Leisure became much bigger than travel alone. It was a moment to deploy an underleveraged component of the brand: leisure.
Through the creation of Travel + Leisure Go, we defined a one-stop lifestyle universe where content and commerce converge for culturally curious consumers. Travel + Leisure Go is where the best of travel, style, and dining meet—so extraordinary can begin. The platform curates the ultimate edits of must-dos, promotes discovery of hidden gems locally and abroad, and enables consumers to purchase globally-inspired products and itineraries that are contextualized to their preferences and tastes.
Travel + Leisure Go also paths consumers to the Travel + Leisure Club, a subscription that personalizes member access to the best restaurants, itineraries, and events.
The Change Has Only Just Begun
The acquisition of Travel + Leisure has grown the business’s customer base, bringing access to a global audience of 35 million loyal followers and nearly 60,000 club members. With Travel + Leisure Go and the Club launching in Summer 2021, the brand’s revamped identity, portfolio, and customer experience will reach existing loyalists and reach new ones as people prepare to explore again and define new lifestyle rituals in a post-pandemic world.
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