The Freddie Awards contained a new category this year — Up and Coming Program of the Year. It was awarded to the program (hotel and airline) in each region that, while not winning program of the year balloting, received the highest ranking among those programs being ranked by between 2% (so meeting a minimum threshold) and 10% of the voters in a category.
It recognizes programs that are well-regarded amongst the subset of voters who are familiar with them, and which may be programs to watch.
MGM Mlife was Up and Coming Program of the Year for hotels in the Americas, for instance.
We had an interesting result for airlines in the Middle East and Asia Pacific region.
- We’ve long had a rule that we do not ’round up’ to 2% to qualify to be ranked for an award.
- We’ve never had an explicit rule about ’rounding down’. We’ve never needed one.
So when looking at the results Saudi’s Alfursan program was ranked by just over 10% of the voters in the category. We decided that we couldn’t impose a rule about rounding down or not rounding down after the fact, so they shouldn’t be denied the award — but neither should the program which would receive it if Saudia wasn’t eligible.
Two programs received the Up and Coming Program of the Year award for an airline in the Middle East and Asia Pacific: Saudia and… El Al.
Really? The award was to be jointly won by those two airlines of all the airlines in the region?
The results are where they are, the voters’ opinions lead where they lead. And while these are frequent flyer executives and not politicians the presentation of this could have been… interesting. (For what it’s worth, El Al was represented at the ceremony by a woman, long time marketing executive Gracie Ninger.)
I explained the award on stage. I brought up Saudia as the first winner. Dr. Abdulaziz Khayat, General Manager of the Alfursan program, along with Saudia’s Vice President of Public Relations, accepted the award.
Then they stepped off the stage to have their photo taken with the award. And I announced the other winner as El Al. Each received their time on stage.
I’m pleased to report no international incidents.