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Generating Green-Powered Innovation (INTERVIEW)

Faith Taylor, SVP Innovation, Wyndham Worldwide
Gil Haddi
January 14th, 2014
Earning recognition through her dedicated work with multiple sustainability initiatives, Faith Taylor, the Senior Vice President of Sustainability and Innovation at Wyndham Worldwide, started the Wyndham Green program at Wyndham Worldwide a hospitality company with over 32,000 associates and 100 assets in 100 countries. Since its launch in 2006, Wyndham Worldwide has invested in exploring and adopting innovative sustainable practices through the program, which focuses on sustainability across the company, and is one of its Top 5 strategic priorities. Having worked with the company for 10 years now, Faith continues to oversee the development of the company’s corporate policy, strategies and key initiatives while inspiring further innovative sustainability efforts to help Wyndham Worldwide and its brands further reduce carbon emissions, water waste and costs while increasing overall productivity. As she states, "Sustainability and innovation go hand-in-hand; you cannot do one without the other."

Three questions with Faith Taylor:

1. What makes an innovative culture?

An innovative culture has an entrepreneurial spirit where new ideas are welcomed, from the bottom as well as the top, and good ideas are recognized and supported into further development. There needs to be a process to enable innovation, including beta-testing and market research, as well as an open attitude in terms of idea generation, otherwise you will severely limit innovation. An innovative culture requires partnerships within and outside the industry, including distribution and vendor connections.

Over the years, the company has developed innovative programs and has been able to implement them thanks to our strong partnerships around the world. For example, our Shade Grown Coffee program partners us with the Arbor Day Foundation in Peru. Through this program, the men and women who grow the coffee and get paid a fair salary, their children receive an education and trees are saved rather than cut down for coffee plantations. Additionally, we also work with our Wyndham Green Advisory Board to make our properties more energy efficient, which helps to save money and increase revenue. For example, one of our properties in New Jersey installed solar panels, which resulted in a reduction of 80% off of its electricity bill. The solar panels also generate excitement as guests ask about this initiative.

2. How does your team come up with consumer insights and innovations?

We complete research both online and offline, and work with our customers including hotel owners, franchisees, timeshare groups and vendors who bring us new technologies and products. We also have partnerships with several major industry organizations throughout the world that keep us informed of industry trends. As a more informal process of ideation, we have designated meetings where we review new products and services to identify and determine if they’ll work for the company.

Finding the resources, whether capital, human or technological, can often be a challenge. The allocation of resources depends on the project we're working on, market feasibility, in addition to the scale and timing of the projects. We have an innovation council that is charged with bringing forth ideas and our CEO, Stephen Holmes, encourages innovation through recognition and awards. Our team enables the company to innovate, use less energy and water while still remaining productive. Innovation and sustainability are inherently linked as we figure out new ways to operate.

3. How will Wyndham Worldwide continue to be a leader in innovation?

By co-developing a custom eco-software tool called the Wyndham Green toolbox to track and measure our environmental footprint, we have achieved a 12% global carbon reduction of our operationally controlled assets. We have also greened 15% of our $1.2B supply chain and developed a Green Uniform Program made out of recycled plastic bottles. These in addition to the innovations above have enabled Wyndham to be recognized by Newsweek Magazine as one of the top 100 greenest companies in America and in 2013, we were named to the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index for the first time.. Despite this success, we realize that we can't
keep doing things the way we've always done them. We will continue to develop programs that deliver global results and work in markets around the world. At the end of the day, our goal is to reduce our carbon footprint by 20% by 2020.