- Wyndham Grand, part of Wyndham Hotel Group, is piloting a new program that encourages family time over screen time, per a company press release. When guests check in for “Reconnected, a Wyndham Grand Family Experience,” they are given a timed lock box for their mobile devices that allows them to set a timer for uninterrupted play and remove the distractions to “create true memories, instead of fleeting Instagram stories,” the release said.
- The program, created in partnership with Food Network chef Duff Goldman, a “fort architect" and “The Nocturnals” author Tracey Hecht, offers families tools to create a “one-of-a-kind” adventure, including building a blanket fort, going on a nocturnal adventure, reading bedtime stories, sampling s’mores-inspired cocktails and treats, taking “real” photos and more.
- Beginning Feb. 23, “Reconnected” is being piloted at Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach, Wyndham Grand Orlando Bonnet Creek, Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront, Hotel Galvez, a Wyndham Grand Hotel and the Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel. The program is available at 5% off through Sept. 3.
While most brands are going more digital, Wyndham Grand is taking the opposite approach by encouraging actual human interactions and suggesting that hotel guests lock their devices away. Spring break and summer vacation are just around the corner, and Wyndham’s new take on the family vacation could appeal to parents looking for something different and a way to better connect with their families that doesn’t involve technology.
The impact of screen time and social media usage on social interactions and mental health has been a highly debated issue. While smartphones and other technology offer many benefits, research has shown that they could have harmful effects. Parents’ busy lifestyles and heavy mobile device use can make kids feel “unimportant,” and 54% of kids say their parents check their phones too frequently, according to data cited in the Wyndham news release. A recently formed coalition of former tech employees focused on addressing technology addiction has also drawn additional attention to such issues.
More and more brands are taking up a cause as a way to connect with audiences. Billing an experience as “so good you’ll forget to check your phone,” as Wyndham is doing, and going anti-technology, at least to a point, could be a novel approach for marketers looking to generate buzz around their brands. The reality is that brands rely more and more on social and digital channels to promote their offerings, but as this debate over the impact of those channels on families and society at large continues, they may need to think about alternatives to balance efforts to reach their target audience with perceptions of social media and tech platforms.