How do you make learning about property sales and loan securitization something that your associates want to do? You may be thinking, well it depends who they are and what job they perform for your company. Fair enough, so think of it this way—how do you make learning about property sales and loan securitization interesting and enjoyable for any associate in your company? The answer for us was simple. Make it a game and let our associates play.

Many of us that have worked in the learning and development world for an extended period of time have had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects for one or many companies. One of the things we believe in our organization is that everyone is a leader, and developing strong leaders is critical to our success financially and culturally. This can be especially true when you consider the impact our leaders have on the bottom line. As such, we make a significant effort in our leadership development programs to ensure our leaders understand how we make our money. At the end of the day, we are in the business of sending people on vacation and helping to build lasting memories for them and their families to share. If any part of that process is managed poorly it can have a direct impact on our ability to make money and provide world-class service to our owners.

For years our consumer finance division has been using a wonderful live demonstration that helps our people understand the process from the time we market a tour to the final collection and distribution of money. A member of our leadership development team, Jay Davenport, saw an opportunity to take this learning moment and make it accessible to our entire company. Jay asked a simple question, “What if we turned that presentation into an online game?” That simple question started the wheels spinning and our voyage into the world of gamification began.

Our game is affectionately referred to as Wynopoly (Figure 1). In this game our associates learn about the processes, challenges, and costs for establishing a resort, hiring staff to market and sell vacation ownership, securitization of the loan, and ongoing collection of payments and dues. These are truly complex processes that require the learner to understand down payments, debts owed to various internal and external parties, and financial concepts like advance rate, cash flow, and rescission.

Figure 1: Wynopoly is an important part of the leadership development program at Wyndham Hotels

The game has two major sections. The first section explains how we go about “putting a new dot on the map,” the process for generating interest from customers, and the concepts behind how we generate cash flow. The process and groups involved in developing a resort are many. There are significant costs and effort required before our owners have the opportunity to enjoy a resort. We have countless people and groups involved from product development, legal, quality assurance, consumer finance, and marketing and sales to name a few. Everyone has a key role to play in the success of our business. The first section of the course explains the process so the learner understands how their decisions in the game will impact their cash flow and ultimately their successful creation of a resort (Figures 2 and 3).

Figure 2: Wynopoly begins with an overview of the resort development process

Figure 3: Understanding cash flow is a critical outcome of Wynopoly

After completing the first section the interactive portion of the game begins (Figure 4). Now, the associate is in charge of selecting the type of resort they want to develop, the place where they want to market their new resort to customers, and the type of sales person they would like to have selling vacation ownership interest to our customers. The choices the associate makes have a direct impact on their ability to generate a sale. If they choose an ideal marketing location and a quality sales person they will generate maximum cash flow for our business. If they choose a poor marketing location and/or a poor salesperson they will generate a less than ideal sale or will fail to sell vacation ownership due to one of many factors the game tracks and calculates as they go.

Figure 4: The interactive portion of Wynopoly begins with deciding what type of resort to develop

Remember, the game is fun but it is also about teaching our associates how their decisions as leaders impact our success as a company. At the end of the game the associate learns how their choices impacted their ability to sell vacation ownership interest and how that impacts our bottom line as a company. If they made less than ideal choices the game provides corrective feedback so they know how they could have approached the process differently to get a better outcome.

This was an extremely important part of the game and the learning. We felt the learner needed an opportunity to reflect on their choices. By providing specific feedback based on one of many scenarios the learner can experience some of the nuance and challenges that face our business. If they do fail to secure a sale in their first attempt or it was not an ideal sale they can try again. The time to reflect and consider different choices should help them to reach a better outcome.

At this point we are really focusing on developing their critical thinking skills. Failing to reach the optimal outcome provides a learning moment and their ability to think critically about their decision and the impact will teach them an important skill. The ability to immediately learn from your mistakes and apply the learning is a critical part of what makes the game effective as a learning tool. Once they do progress to the end of the game they get to see how the loan is securitized, how we make payments to internal and external parties, and what impact cash flow has on our bottom line.

This game will be a key part of our leadership development program for all of our people leaders and accessible by any associate across our company. We believe strongly that the best way to grow leaders is to empower them with information, build a strong understanding of all aspects of our business, and provide opportunities for future leaders to identify themselves through their efforts to learn about our business even when the learning is not required for their current role.

As this was our first attempt to produce a learning solution using gamification we did intentionally limit the complexity of the game. The first reason was to ensure the game was playable by associates at all levels in a reasonable amount of time. As it is built currently this game can be completed inside of 20 minutes which we know is a benchmark for approximately how long learners can focus and maximize retention of concepts. We do see opportunities in the future to increase the complexity of the game, add additional choices and variables, and potentially grow this into a game that can support teams or competitive group play.

Technically this game is being built in a customized Captivate framework and will be distributed to our associates via our learning management system. The course will track completion and, as stated earlier, will serve as a significant part of our leadership development curriculum. We also see this as an important course for building business acumen in our current and future leaders. This supports our core competencies and grows our bench of future leaders.

This game is being developed to support both computer and mobile (iPad) users. We have over 15,000 employees at Wyndham Vacation Ownership and approximately 5,000 who are on an iPad every day. Making sure the course was accessible and working regardless of device was an important part of the development.

All of the design and development work on this game was done internally and in partnership with our consumer finance division and by an incredibly talented group of designers and developers in our Knowledge Services team that support our learning and development teams across Wyndham Worldwide.

For more information, contact the authors (contact information is in their bios).