Levelling The Playing Field: Travel Ball – Days Inn & The Golden Rays

To target the young family ‘travel-ball’ customer segment and bring to life its brand mission to inspire people and enrich communities, Days Inn (By Wyndham) backed a Northern Californian Little League Team called The Golden Rays for a fully-funded Travel Ball season which its covered in documentary style with episodic content which it deployed across its digital and social channels to drive awareness, engagement and (indirectly) bookings.


Territory: USA


Agency: Questus





Days Inn set out to ‘fulfil the dreams of kids that can’t afford to take part in the ‘Travel Ball’ strand of America’s favourite pastime – baseball’.


Travel ball is a form of Little League baseball run by a group of (competing) for-profit organisations (eg USSSA, Travel Ball USA, Travel Ball Elite and the Youth World Series) which provide a framework for weekend team tournaments which mostly involves a few hours of travel, but sometimes sees teams travel across states to play and often culminating in a World Series style national finals tournament.


The main goal of Travel Ball is to provide young ball players – typically in the 12 to 14 age group – with enjoyable and competitive away games and tournaments for enjoyment, experience and to continue personal and skills development.


But rising costs in this multi-billion dollar industry has created a widening gap between those who can and can’t afford to join teams. Families are required to pay on average $2,000+ to cover tournament fees, uniforms, equipment, coach’s fees and travel expenses. This alone makes it very difficult for the average family to afford a travel club experience for their aspiring young ball player.


So, driven by the belief that ‘great companies stand for more than just brand positions, product features and service offerings, but also they inspire audiences and enrich communities and thus garner unparalleled business results’, Days Inn tasked agency Questus to develop an initiative which would ‘help level the playing field’ for youngsters and to position its brand and its 1,400+ hotels as the perfect option for the large travel-ball customer base.


The objective was to drive awareness, consideration and conversion for the brand within the youth sports segment.





So in 2020, agency Questus worked with Days Inn’s marketers to found a new youth travel-ball team in Northern Californian – the Golden Rays – and supported its season long Travel Ball programme.


The team consisted of 12 kids whose families found travel ball financially out of reach and the aim was to help them benefit from an enjoyable, positive life-changing experience which offered both personal learning and baseball skills development opportunities.


Days Inn covered all costs for the players and their families including travel, equipment, uniforms, coaching, tournament fees, plus airfares and, of course, hotel stays (In Days Inns).


The agency created the team logo, branded uniforms and the Days-Inn-inspired name – the Golden Rays’ (reflecting the brand’s sunburst logo). Then the initiative began when the brand appointed the coaching team and worked with them to hold tryouts, before supported the team’s weekly practices and participation in six travel tournaments.


The brand then followed the team’s journey through the season in real-time and through recorded content via video, photographic, interview, scores and other match-related content and shared this across Days Inn’s own social and digital channels


The focus was on capturing every player and family moment on and off the field in the season-long journey: including the game action at the weekend tournaments, weekday practices and skills training, plus the players’ first plane flights and even hotel food and drink and a pool party.


Episodic video and image content linked to a ‘full funnel conversion approach’ rolled out through February and March across paid social and owned digital channels creating emotional connections and driving overall awareness and affinity for the hotel brand.


The activation primarily targeted strategy the young family, ‘travel-ball’ customer segment.







According to the agency, the campaign drove an overall lift in brand favourability, consideration, and intent-to-purchase and generated a $67 ‘return on spend’ which represented a 185% increase YoY for the brand.


Amongst the activation’s key success metrics:
> 14m impressions

> 4m social media reach

> 17,000 attributable hotel bookings



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