Wyndham Invests $100 Million to Kick Off Rewards Program

Hotel Company Hikes Digital Spending Six-Fold

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Wyndham Hotel Group is investing $100 million over the next 18 months to market its new loyalty program -- and is also increasing its digital spending six-fold over last year to $5.2 million.

The campaign advertising a revamped, simplified rewards program features a whimsical character called the Wyndham Rewards Wyzard. The wizard, whose catchphrase is "You've Earned This," will be played by Kristofer Hivju, a Norwegian actor known for his role as Tormund Giantsbane on HBO's "Game of Thrones."

In addition to digital video, radio and social-media components, the campaign will include a few spots on cable TV networks including ABC Family, ESPN and TBS. Citing an eMarketer trend, Josh Lesnick, exec VP and CMO of Wyndham Hotel Group, said the current consumer digital video consumption of one hour and 16 minutes a day influenced the company's investment in digital video. Cost-effectiveness as well as tracking also played a role in the decision to beef up the budget.

Wyndham wanted to focus on making the program aspirational and easy to understand, so it used a character -- a first for the company. "That's the beauty of the program. It's a simple message that resonates with people," said Mr. Lesnick, who said he hoped the campaign will run for a number of years to let the personality of the wizard play out.

Wyndham's research on its rewards program indicated that the most important thing to 89% of people surveyed was earning a free night. By looking at hotel and airline rewards programs, the company found the rules were too complex to follow. With the upcoming campaign, Wyndham's goal was for people to understand their new program immediately.

The company's main focus is the "midscale and economy consumer," according to Mr. Lesnick. Because Wyndham also has upscale hotels, the marketing had to ultimately appeal to a few groups.

The campaign was created by People Ideas & Culture. Wyndham Hotel Group's global portfolio includes more than 7,670 properties, including brands such as Ramada, Days Inn, Super 8, Baymont Inn & Suites and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated Wyndham is increasing its digital video spending to $5.2 million. The company is actually increasing its overall digital spending to $5.2 million.

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