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Diary of a Chief Reward Officer

Explorer C

At 11:00pm on Tuesday, October 25th, I received an email from Rapid Rewards notifying me I had made it to the final round of the Chief Reward Officer competition.  The email stated that a two-minute video would be required as the last step to claim the Chief Reward Officer title and prize.

The initial response in my head was, “A video?”  This thought was quickly followed by a text message to a good friend and owner of Eighty Eight Productions in Gilbert, Arizona, Sam Pagel.  “Do you work this weekend?” I asked.  “I need your help with something.” 

I knew that a typical homemade video wouldn’t be enough to win: I had to think big.  This video would need to be professional, from beginning to end, to even have a chance of winning.  With Sam along for the ride, I was confident we could create something unique.  I spent the next couple nights developing the concept and full script for the video and on Saturday night, October 29th, production commenced. 

We filmed for six straight hours.  This was much longer than expected, mostly due to the fact this was my first time in front of a camera.  Standing in a quiet, empty room, in front of a green screen, staring into a camera with Sam standing behind it made it very difficult to be serious and energetic without falling into outright laughter because of how ridiculous I felt.  Needless to say, I have a new respect for actors, reporters, and anyone else who makes a living in front of a camera.  The shots that required green screening to make people and objects “appear” in scenes also added time and complexity to the filming process. 

Green Screen 2

The next day, Sam began the post-production work.  He spent nearly three hours uploading video content and editing on Final Cut Pro before I arrived.  I was excited by how much progress had been made and was eager to see the final product.  Sam and I worked on the rest of the editing together; once we had the major scenes in place, we started removing content in order to stay under two minutes.   After a few more hours, we watched the video from beginning to end and applauded at what we believed was a successful product - win, lose, or draw.  Sam’s parents and siblings offered their expertise as we watched it once more.  Afterwards, his mom said, jokingly, “If you win, you better take us all out to dinner.”  This would be a dinner she and the family would enjoy a few short weeks later.

We spent another three hours exporting the video 13 times in different file formats and qualities to get under the 30-megabyte limit before submitting the video.  Our final product snuck in just under both the time and size constraints:  1:59 long and 29.9 megabytes large.  

Chief Reward Officer

Two days before Thanksgiving, I was in Las Vegas on a business trip.  Minutes before 1:00pm I received the email saying I had been selected as the winner of the Chief Reward Officer competition.  I was surprised, to say the least, and immediately called my wife to tell her.  Her response was, “What!?  Are you serious!?”  Although she was nearly as shocked as I was, she was even more excited that our work and time had paid off.

I called Sam next and he answered the phone, as usual, with an enthusiastic, “Andrew Vernon!”  I replied with, “Do you mean… Chief Reward Officer?”  All he could say was, “Tell me you’re joking.”  “Nope, we did it!” I replied.  For the next 15 minutes, we shared excited laughter and near disbelief.

After two weeks of similar conversations and identical feelings, I started to realize just how big of a prize I had won and what a blessing traveling the world – for free – would be, made possible by Chase's partnership with Southwest.  My wife and I have already begun discussing which trips and vacations we are most looking forward to using these points.  We can’t wait to fly to Seattle, Washington D.C., Long Island, Boston, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida to cruise in the Atlantic and Caribbean.  We are also looking forward to some longer vacations to Europe and Asia over the next few years. 

Traveling aside, I am most excited about being able to get away and spend more time vacationing with my wife.  I am also excited to take friends and family with us on trips who normally would not be able to afford a plane ticket.   Because I would not have had the chance to win without him, Sam will be able to use the points whenever he wants until they are gone.  Up first: a day trip to the east coast to celebrate the win!

I still don’t think I realize the impact this win will have on my life, but I couldn’t be more excited to experience God’s amazing creation by flying to different parts of the world.

Thank you, Southwest Airlines, for running this excellent promotion and contest!

You can watch Andrew's winning video here:

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