By EDITORIAL STAFF
Earlier this month, several Hopkins students and alumni released an app called Wiya, which creates a collective rewards program for local businesses. Its users earn virtual points for making purchases at many dining locations, and if they accumulate enough points, they can earn discounts and free food items at nearby restaurants. The points that you earn at one vendor can be pooled and used at any of the participating locations.
We appreciate Wiya’s stated mission of encouraging and supporting local businesses, and we think that the app will accomplish this and better integrate Hopkins students into the Baltimore community. Despite the convenience of the FFC, Levering and the Daily Grind, we as students have a responsibility to support Charles Village, especially its local businesses. A new burger joint called Bo Z’s has recently opened at the former Freshii location. Owned and managed by the owner of the Daily Grind, Bo Z’s is the type of small business that we want to stick around.
Both upperclassmen and underclassmen can benefit from the app’s perks: Upperclassmen without meal plans can enjoy the potential for discounts, while underclassmen can use their meal plans at University dining, receive points from those purchases and then spend the points at off-campus locations they might not otherwise visit. Students of all years have an incentive to dine off campus and support local eateries.
The app will likely help local restaurants gain more customers because students will be more likely to patronize stores if they know that doing so will result in future discounts or rewards. If students earn enough points to get a free food item at a specific restaurant, they will be more likely to return to that location in the future if they enjoy the reward and experience.
This is especially valuable for local businesses to which students would not have visited without these incentives.
Wiya also provides students with a platform to submit feedback directly to local restaurants, which can help these restaurants improve their services and create meaningful connections with their customers. Companies will be able to respond to Wiya users’ comments as well, furthering this relationship. Small businesses may not have access to these resources already, and this app can make that possible and convenient. Wiya has the potential to facilitate valuable exchanges of information between local businesses and students and foster a stronger sense of community between Baltimoreans and Hopkins students.