In a year that saw frequent travelers contend with the best and worst of times, well over 150,000 of them paused a few minutes to cast their annual Freddie votes — selecting the programs they felt were the best frequent traveler programs from the frequent travelers point-of-view.
While the dot-com meltdown, the tides of a changing economy and the events of 9/11 made up much of the news in 2001, many frequent travelers also paid close attention to what they liked and didn’t like about their frequent traveler programs of choice. Members who earn most of their miles from traveling were forced to play by a new set of rules this past year as corporations altered travel policies and frequent traveler programs were altered to match. Programs like Marriott Rewards tried to fine tune its program, introducing award changes in a competitive hotel program environment, while other programs, like Hyatt Gold Passport, seemed to disappear into the background.
On the airline side of things, Continental took a chance with a variety of changes to their perennial Freddie Award-winning OnePass program and other programs, such as Delta SkyMiles and United Mileage Plus, did their very best to satisfy a changing demand for products and services. Among international programs, newcomer Emirates Skywards served notice its program will be every bit as good as the airline, while Starwood Preferred Guest proved that it has staying power. With a new name, a new look and subtle changes of benefits to match, Priority Club Rewards looks to be included among the powerhouse programs of Marriott and Hilton.
While there might have been legitimate reasons to cancel the Freddie Awards this year, given what happened to the industry in 2001, the awards offer an excuse for many of these same programs to smile again — reason enough to decide the show must go on. As you read through the results, keep in mind one very unusual trend: in almost every category, the winners and all of those nominated received far lower Value Vote averages than in any past year. Members seem to be saying that these programs aren’t delivering that same value to them. We won’t know until next year’s Freddies if this is a ripple effect of the events of 9/11. But what we do know is we’ve made it this far — the 14th Annual Freddie Awards — and we will continue to gauge the most important measure of frequent traveler programs today — the public’s voice.
A full recap of the Freddie Award ceremony, as well as all of this year’s winners and runner-ups, can be found on the Freddie Awards Web site. Once at the site, simply click on a category to see how your favorite programs fared.
Freddie Awards Web site: