When Jean Thomas switched industries in 2002, leaving Kraft Foods for the Cendant Hotel Group, her first impression of lodging was the depth and breadth of customer information—most of it freely given up at check-in and check-out. Her second impression was how little of that information explained why customers did what they did.

“Once you understand why someone wants something or what they want, then you know how to make changes,” Thomas says. “That’s what was missing, and that’s what has changed branding basics in this industry.”

Cendant Hotel Group is now the Wyndham Hotel Group, a part of recently formed Wyndham Worldwide, which also owns time-share brands. The hotel group owns the brands for AmeriHost, Baymont, Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Knights Inn, Ramada, Super 8, and Wingate Inn. As Wyndham Hotel Group EVP and chief marketing officer, Thomas has spearheaded the New Jersey-based company’s efforts to refine its brands. She describes it as an ongoing and continuous endeavor for which the stakes are huge. That’s also a sentiment her competitors share and are hard at work in implementing. Their efforts to transition from behavioral to attitudinal branding management has been colossal in scope, and if successful, owners and their guests will find themselves graced with better product and better marketing.

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