Skift Take

Hundreds of thousands of Americans regularly struggle to plan long-distance trips with stops at hotels that are pet friendly or have parking for large trucks. Wyndham's new tool aims to address this hassle.

It may seem insignificant for a hotel company to add a tool to its app to help plan long-distance road trips. But not necessarily in the case of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.

The company has such a broad footprint of limited and select service roadside properties, with 8,900 franchised hotels, that a trip-planning tool might actually boost incremental revenue. That’s because the new tool that is part of the hotel brand’s smartphone app for iOS and Android devices addresses the pain points of at least two sizable markets: pet owners and road warriors.

If you’ve ever taken a pet on a long-distance road trip, you know that part of your planning is staging stops at rare pet-friendly properties. Wyndham’s new app lets users filter by pet-friendly hotels. It shows a map-based view of how much of a detour a hotel requires, the hotel’s Tripadvisor review ratings, and its amenity listings, such as if it offers free breakfast.

Wyndham’s new tool could help speed up planning for millions of pet owners. There generally aren’t great point-to-point trip planners for pets integrated with pricing and booking tools. Google recently added some tools that get closer. While imperfect, Wyndham’s tool has the virtue of simplicity.

Here’s another common use case: If you travel long-distances for your job, such as for a truck delivery service, construction, or a traveling nurse, it may be up to you to plan your itinerary while taking advantage of a corporate negotiated rates. Users can also filter to see properties that offer truck parking.

Wyndham’s new tool lets you search for properties using any rate code your company may have. Stops can be chosen without the presence of a hotel in that location. Paying for multiple stays in one fell swoop can speed up the trip-planning task for a road warrior.

“We also have added a little wizardry to the mix, said Jessica Davidson, senior vice president, digital, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. “We can recommend stops based on number of hours or miles. You set your threshold for driving, and we make recommendations on places to stop.”

The company plans to get the word out about the tool in a few ways, including paid media campaigns. Advertising units on its branded sites and apps will promote the offer. The company will also create webpages about road trips that are optimized for search engines to attract traffic that way.

The new tool could come in handy for hundreds of thousands of travelers because the next few months have the potential to be the “busiest travel season ever” in domestic U.S. history. Domestic U.S. trips remain favored by many Americans partly to reconnect with family and friends, as pandemic restriction ease, and partly because U.S. rules for covid testing make international travel relatively more difficult.

Wyndham’s latest tech tool is part of a series of digital efforts at the company, which aims to woo hotel owners and developers to its bands.

“Roughly seven years ago we began replatforming all the brand websites, and then we had a CRS [central reservation system] migration, and we’ve launched a customer data platform and lots of different martech [marketing technology] capabilities in-between,” Davidson said. “Technology is how we can compete.”

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Tags: apps, road trips, trip planning, wyndham, wyndham worldwide

Photo credit: Wyndham's road trip planner tool. Source: Wyndham.