You’ve seen it at the check-in desk, in the lobby, and the hotel pool: Parents glued to their smartphones while kids tug on their sleeves for attention. The realities of today’s work environment mean that family vacations can often be interrupted by the buzz of emails, mobile app alerts, and text messages. Now, Wyndham is testing a new program to silence those notifications. It’s called Reconnected, and the program aims to inspire parents to put their phones away at select Wyndham Grand properties around the country. At check-in, guests receive a lock box for their mobile devices with a timer to let them track how long they can keep those screens dark.
“The amount of time your phone is or isn’t in the lock box is totally up to you,” Noelle Nicolai, senior direct of brand marketing, upscale & lifestyle brands of Wyndham Hotel Group and the company’s “Resident Reconnector,” told PCMA. “In today’s world, it’s very difficult to ask someone to lock away something that has become such an intrinsic part of their daily to-dos and responsibilities. But the beauty of stepping away for a bit is that we become conscious of our dependencies on technology and more aware of our time together. You can choose not to lock your phone away, but we encourage our guests — kids and parents alike — to spend some time off their screens together.”
The program, which gives guests a five-percent discount on their room rates, also includes plenty of additional tools to replace those phones. A toolkit for building a blanket fort, a book of bedtime stories, and a menu with s’mores-inspired treats for kids and cocktails for parents are all designed to help combat the distractions of the digital world. While families may typically catalog their adventures on Instagram, the program also include an Instax camera for an analog approach to preserving memories.
“Right now, our focus for Reconnected is on the family experience, although anyone can book the program online no matter who they’re traveling with,” Nicolai said. “It’s ultimately about bringing back quality time to families on vacation. Putting away technology is a major part of doing that, but it’s also about one-of-a-kind experiences that lend themselves to memories families can cherish for a lifetime.”
A Digital Detox Is Good for Solo Guests, Too
I don’t have kids, but I would love more opportunities designed to motivate me to put my phone down. There is nothing normal about the age of smartphone addiction. Necks are arched downward. Pinkies and thumbs are shifting to new positions. Eyes ache. The endless hours at screens are changing the human body. So sign me up for the Reconnected program. And while you’re at it, sign me up for a meeting or a conference where everyone else wants to reconnect, too.