As written by Jess Foley

Recently, I participated in the Kellogg Business Design Challenge. Its purpose: use methods of design thinking to find user-centric, creative solutions to client issues. Our client hoped to revamp its loyalty program to increase repeat business and to be more competitive.

After weeks of research, we observed three unmet needs: building community, personalized interactions, and effortless experiences.

Focusing on these trends, we brainstormed opportunities that our client could implement using its current loyalty network and unique position as a locally connected hotel chain.


Our solution, Hotel Heroes Program, allows customers to impact communities through point donations in exchange for benefits to local and national charities.
Each hotel property identifies local philanthropies and encourages customer participation. Hotel bills include a translation of points into tangible benefits for the specified charity, i.e. a field trip to the Natural History museum.
With this solution, our client strengthens its current program and increases customer loyalty. Customers would be motivated to participate in a program that both has tangible point benefits and supports “voluntourism”. Finally, our client improves its image of corporate responsibility, now recognized as a company committed to its community.


This challenge was an opportunity to work on a multi-disciplinary team facing a real-life challenge for a client. As the person with a background in design consulting and product design, it was exciting to see others experimenting with a new approach with incredible results. Abandoning the traditional approaches to problem solving, my team embraced the humanity of the challenge and was first-runner up.