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?