In arguably a close finish category, Bonvoy bested Rewards (Marriott’s old name for their loyalty program was Rewards but this time it’s Caesars), to take yet another of many honors for Program of the Year with a 3/100’s margin over Caesars Rewards (8.67 vs. 8.64 ) which itself was just ahead of MGM Rewards. Like others, we’ve enjoyed watching the rise of loyalty programs originally more closely associated with the gambling powerhouses of Las Vegas and the Freddie Awards tracks this rise better than any other loyalty awards honor. They (Caesars/MGM) are the #realdeal. We like/love competition and there are no easy wins here—congrats to Marriott because we all know that repeating this honor in this category will never be easy but they have made it look easy for an unprecedented 14th consecutive time. All three top places finished with ratings in the “8.X” range. Following up in fourth place was Wyndham Rewards which is not just known for its commercials featuring that bearded Rewards wizard but as a program in the mix of the best. And since you asked about Hilton, Hyatt, and IHG, you’ll be pleased to know that they finished in a row—fifth, sixth, and seventh in that order.
TRIVIA: Three of the top four finishers in this category call their loyalty program “Rewards.” And five of the top ten finishers in this category call their loyalty program … Rewards. Apparently, five programs didn’t get the email.
Identical to the places finished for Program of the Year, Marriott Bonvoy claims elite status over Caesars Rewards and MGM Rewards. And as with POTY, all finished with a value vote rating of 8.X. What is interesting is that the value vote rating for Bonvoy in this category matched that very same rating as POTY with an 8.67. But that’s where things come to a screeching halt. Wyndham drops down to a sixth-place finish and who replaces them in #4? That’s right—ALL. You know—Accor Live Limitless. We know … you are still getting used to the World of Hyatt naming convention. But seeing Accor in the Americas is actually a big deal. Repeat after me—a b-i-g d-e-a-l. Primarily known for collecting many Freddie Awards from the European and beyond sector, a fourth-place finish here is impressive. But it wasn’t that easy as they had but a 7/100ths of a percentage margin over fifth-place Hilton HHonors. And if you think that is close, then consider that Honors claimed fifth place from the sixth place Wyndham Rewards by a mere 1/100ths of a percentage point.
Now, if you ask our opinion (and we realize you didn’t), the program that should be reading these results right alongside you is World of Hyatt. In the previous eight Freddie Awards, World of Hyatt (nee Gold Passport) won this category six times. repeat after us—they won six of eight previous times. What happened? Well, certainly members know because this year the value vote rating was 6.77, well down from its run when they easily averaged in the 8.X range. This sort of observation is exactly why reading over the results in this manner is valuable to both members and the programs. In this instance, it is—read and weep.
If you must know, Caesars Rewards narrowly nudges 9.X with an 8.90 rating and reclaims the title of Best Promotion after a two-year run by Marriott Bonvoy (2019-2020). You will now learn that we use the term “reclaim” loosely because it was not Caesars that held the title in 2018, but its cross Las Vegas Strip rival MGM Rewards that won the award for three consecutive years (2016-2018) and the term “reclaim” here is reclaiming the award back to a non-traditional loyalty program that wasn’t around when the likes of Marriott/Hyatt/Hilton/Starwood and Holiday Inn ruled the lobbies. Caesars’ winning promotion was: Earn For Next Year >> For every 500 Tier Credits earned November 1 – December 31, 2021 members received 100 bonus Tier Credits for 2022. As the world of loyalty recovered from the world of COVID, it’s clear that promotions that boosted tier/elite status spoke to the members who were willing and eager to listen. Botton line—Hail Caesars (Rewards).
NOTE: Previous three-time winner in this category, MGM Rewards, did not have an entry this year.
In the closest finish of any category in the hotel category for the Americas, Caesars Rewards by 1/100th of a rating point takes home their second Freddie of the year in a category that we think does matter—customer service. It’s nice we get those shiny elite cards and we redeem at hotel categories well above the categories we actually earn our hotel points in, but when it comes to respect, this category is the most important. And who might Caesars best for their Freddie Award? The king—Marriott Bonvoy. The difference >> 8.61 to 8.60. That, our fellow frequent flyers, is a close finish. And that’s exactly the way it should be. In fact, we’d be happy if less than a point separated the top five programs in this category. As it is, 3/10ths of a point separated the top four programs with ALL and MGM filling in right behind. MGM Rewards BTW won this category in 2020 while Caesars won it in 2019. Before that, it was Marriott, Marriott, and more Marriott.
But what we don’t like, is seeing Hyatt, IHG, Best Western, and Choice two full points behind in their ratings. Come on people … customer service does matter.
We’re pleased to report that four programs finished with a value vote rating of 8.X or higher. We’re not pleased to report that only one of the legacy programs is among those four. But then we are pleased to report that the legacy program of Marriott Bonvoy claims the total redemption title. Serving millions of members annually with a desire to use their hotel points when and where they like is an almost unachievable goal … Hotel properties also exist for paying guests and investments for property owners. Say what you will but it does not appear members are Bonvoyed in their redemption quests. The following also deserve our applause: Caesars Rewards, ALL, and MGM Rewards. Don’t see your fave program listed in the top four? Let them know—more redemption availability, please.
TRIVIA: Marriott Bonvoy has won this category nine of the past ten years—the single exception being 2015 when Starwood SPG won. SPG of course is now part of the Marriott mix of brands and loyalty.