Skift reported yesterday on JD Power’s rankings of hotel loyalty programs (their “Hotel Loyalty/Rewards Program Satisfaction Report”).
Honestly I was hoping this wouldn’t get any pickup, since it’s just another missive likely to mislead consumers.
- The most heavily-weighted factor in the rankings — nearly a quarter of it — was ‘account maintenance’. That just doesn’t strike me as the single biggest factor in how valuable a hotel loyalty program is. Note that this isn’t “customer service” which is its own category and worth just 5% of the survey’s weight.
- They factor how easy it is to earn (which will heavily weight number of points earned and number of partners with which you can earn) and ease of redemption (but not the value of what you’re redeeming for).
- An undisclosed amount — less than 5% of the weighting — is based on ‘variety of benefits available’ which is the closest they get to how well a hotel chain actually treats its guests on-property, or to elite benefits — things which have to factor in heavily when evaluating a hotel loyalty program.
About 3800 people were surveyed. Delta Privilege comes in third and Drury comes in fifth.
- There’s no comment from JD Power on their beliefs about how this is or isn’t a representative sample of loyalty program members voting.
- Or about statistical significance. How many of those 3800 could possibly be in the data ranking Drury’s program?
Bear that in mind when evaluating that the results they came up with are Marriott Rewards as the best program, followed by IHG Rewards Club, and that the worst are Best Western Rewards and Hyatt Gold Passport.
I don’t have an issue with these being the results of a ranking per se although I disagree vehemently with this estimation (personally I think the best hotel loyalty programs are Hyatt, Starwood, and Kimpton).
Instead I don’t give this much credence because t’s JD Power. JD Power sells its research to the subjects of its award rankings and sells companies the right to market their winning of these awards.
How any journalistic outlet can report JD Power findings without noting that companies promoting their awards are paying JD Power to do so is truly beyond me.
Later this month I’ll be honored to hand out Freddie Awards to airline and hotel loyalty programs from around the world.
There is no perfect measure of what program is best, but this is directly voted on by millions of frequent travelers (rather than weighted based on an internal metric). I will disagree with many of the assessments by program members, and that’s fine — it is not an award by a panel of experts, it attempts to capture public opinion. And it’s always humbling to see where there’s a real gap in my views of program value and those of frequent travelers around the world. I can feel really out of touch with what’s important to members.
One of the most common questions I get from programs when talking to them about the Freddies is how much it costs to enter? Or how much it costs to attend the ceremony? What kind of license fees they have to pay to promote the award?
The answer is no fee at all. As long as a program describes the awards and their performance accurately, they’re simply reporting on what frequent travelers have said about their program. And there are sponsors picking up the tab for dinner and trophies, some who want their brand in front of loyalty program leaders. Last year one of our sponsors, USA Today, even gave us a full page color add with which to congratulate winners.