A Few Quick Thoughts on Last Night’s Freddie Awards

Just a few brief thoughts on last night’s Freddie Awards.

Marriott did exceptionally well this year.  I’m not sure why.  There haven’t been any real improvements to their program that I can point to.  I can only figure that it’s their get out the vote efforts (of which they did quite a lot) rather than a reflection of substantive improvements.

Starwood did well in Asia Pacific and Europe, Middle East, Africa. But they really didn’t excel in the Americas. I’m not really sure why the split. Starwood didn’t even win for best award redemption in the Americas, which is just bizarre since they really do structurally offer the best award redemption. Hilton has introduced a system to match Starwood, but presumably too late to influence this year’s Freddie Awards. If the voting public is paying attention then Hilton should do well next year. 

With Starwood no longer the only one offering real redemption without blackouts or capacity controls, they’re going to have to innovate over the next year or fall behind.  I’m hopeful they still have it in them to offer a unique value proposition to members.

Sometimes the results in a given category just make no sense.  The best hotel elite level in the America’s was awarded to Priority Club.  And while their sub-program elite level, Intercontinental Royal Ambassador, is quite possibly the best elite level (if only there were more Intercontinental hotel properties), Priority Club‘s elite levels offer almost no real benefits besides bonus points.  (And along the lines of what world do some of the voters live in, Starwood won a website award as well… 🙂

The U.S. legacy carriers didn’t win many Freddies, but they showed up much more frequently in the top 5 than they have in any of the last 5 years that I can recall.  I’m not sure what that says about their value proposition, or about the value offered by their competitors.  Is it possible that they’re getting better, or just getting better at pushing their members to vote?

The Middle Eastern and Indian airlines are cleaning up.  Qatar, Etihad, Jet Airways, I really need to give these programs a closer look.  Asian competitors like Singapore, ANA, Asiana, and Thai are almost nowhere to be found.

Two moments that struck me funny — when Southwest won best bonus for an award which included Hawaii travel, and Randy Petersen asked them how they were fulfilling their offer post-ATA’s bankruptcy (choke, chortle) and when the Virgin Atlantic representative was asked to collect the Freddie Awards for Australia’s Virgin Blue, which wasn’t in attendance… and she came up and explained that she really couldn’t, her boss wouldn’t let her, for legal reasons they couldn’t allow themselves to be perceived as the same company, and couldn’t the award just be shipped to her friends Down Under?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Even though I voted for Starwood for a valued redemption program, they require more points for the same value then before. Otherwise I’ve been treated very well by them.

  2. The reason some of these companies do as well as they do is they email their members to encourage them to vote. Of all the airline companies in the world and the millions of people of people using them, I’m sorry but I simly do not believe that Alaska Airlines could even be considered.

  3. Is there a place wher u can see the actual result of number of Votes ??, i think a lot off non travelers are voting.. so the awards are lacking some level of thruth…. here en mexico Marriot ??? its the worst….

  4. This may come out a bit wrong but after 8 years as a loyal Skywards member its good to see Etihad on top. If the treatment I have been getting from Skywards is the same as others this should tell them how unhappy we are.

    Marriot is simple the best, having returned to their program from HHonours I am really happy every time I stay.

  5. Where is Frontier Airlines??? They are by far one of the very top airlines in the country!! Perhaps because they are local, they did not get the votes. I have never been disappointed with Frontier and I have flown a “zillion” miles on many airlines. Frontier certainly should get recognition not only with Freddie Awards but other awards as well.

  6. I CAN understand why MARRIOTT picked uyp an award. It is because of the totally exceptional outstanding sell ervice they offer to every person, even those staying for one night or taking the cheapest room available. I was treated like a queen in the Minneapolis Marriott as well as in two others. We were so amazed to find that EVERY one of their employees with whom we came in contact, made our stay seem “worth the effort” and worth the price on our part. Thank you to Marriott. Mrs. Dallas Rung (Ramona)

  7. Marriott has always treated me (I travel alot but I am
    not a platinum elite member) as if I was Donlad Trump. In Southfield, MI they remember my name which is extraordinary since I only stay there 5 – 6 times a year. When you get a free night they will put you on the concierge level if available and rarely has the Website let me down (actually never). Marriott has the cutting edge in bedding, service and facilities.

    American Airlines has to have the easiest fare finder website with its “Dealfinder icon” which I use for all my reservations. I am surprised they did not get the best website. But in general, the airlines in the US have been taking a whipping from all sides.

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