Officials at Wyndham Hotel Group are always pushing the envelope, seeking greater ways to interact with customer and instill brand loyalty. Customer engagement just took a new turn via the Wyndham Rewards loyalty program.
Earlier this month, Wyndham Hotel Group launched a new television series with a phased distribution to more than 7,500 Wyndham Rewards hotels around the world. The all-new series, “Have Points, Will Travel,” is a first-of-its-kind program that follows a young married couple as they travel their way down the west coast of the U.S. with only the clothes on their backs and one million Wyndham Rewards points to get them there. It’s billed as a mockumentary sitcom meets reality TV, and it puts a new spin on showing guests just how simple and rewarding a great hotel loyalty program—not to mention in-room entertainment—can be.
Loyalty360 caught up with Whitney Smith Cripe, Senior Director, Loyalty Marketing, Wyndham Hotel Group, to find out more about this exciting and innovative new TV show.
What prompted the TV show launch and what are your goals for it from a customer engagement/customer experience perspective?
It’s no secret that hotel programming is boring. This presented both a challenge and an opportunity to reinvent something that was ripe for a revamp. There is an emerging trend of brands becoming media properties and it only makes sense that a brand like Wyndham, which has built its entire business on understanding and anticipating the needs of guests, can leverage that knowledge to create compelling content and original programming that resonates within pop culture. We believe that strong brands don’t just put out ads, but instead provide value to their customers. We’re constantly challenging ourselves to develop fun and rewarding ways for guests to interact with the brand.
This is a very unique twist in the hospitality industry. Why do you think this will resonate with customers?
There is a growing middle class of Americans who are excited to travel, like the main stars of “Have Points, Will Travel,” Dean and Traci. The show is a fun and engaging “mockumentary” created from the perspective of travelers for travelers. The series entertains guests while showing them how fun and simple Wyndham Rewards can be.
It seems like a great way to, literally, show people how your loyalty program can work in an entertaining fashion. How long did this take to put together from first idea to actual launch?
Start to finish, it was about a four-month process. We started to develop our initial concepts last summer and talked a lot about fun ways to weave together this idea of a “mockumentary” with some sort of “race against time.” Scripting and casting took place in the early fall and then we shot the episode over the course of a week in California in late September.
What can this potentially do for Wyndham Rewards?
We’re devoted to giving guests the most enjoyable experience in our hotels. Instead of bombarding them with mundane property images or the day’s events in Ballroom C, we’re giving them original content that’s not only entertaining, but explains the simplicity and value of Wyndham Rewards. When so many other loyalty memberships are confusing, we want our guests to realize how simple and rewarding our program is. If Dean and Traci can use Wyndham Rewards, everyone can!
Can this change customer behavior during their travel experiences?
Absolutely. Much as we’d love them to be, not every guest that stays with us is a member in Wyndham Rewards. However, when they learn about the program through Dean and Traci’s adventures, the hope is that they’ll want to be.
We have hundreds of thousands of guests staying at our hotels each and every night so there’s certainly tremendous opportunity.