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.
The 210 Award is presented to the program that received the best average rating among programs that were ranked by fewer than 10 percent of the voters. In other words, a reminder again that the results from the Freddies are not a popularity contest. The winner this year was World of Hyatt with a value vote rating of 8.67, right up there with the best averages among all the much larger programs. The next two programs closely in consideration for this honor were Choice Privileges and Best Western Rewards, both within a half-point.
TRIVIA: the 210 Award was originally introduced during the 2015 Freddie Awards held at the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, GA. Prior to that, it had several names …. Up and Coming Program of the Year, Rising Star and was even called an Impact Award.
The top five programs that qualified for this award are separated by less than 4/10ths of a point. That reflects the fact that there are many great programs just waiting for their time to come to be recognized. Among the five, three of them are far less known for their loyalty programs than MeliáRewards (which finished a close second—1/10th of a point behind the eventual winner) and World of Hyatt (which finished fourth). Finishing in fifth is the Leading Hotels of the World Leaders Club program which is a fabulous collection of properties brought together with a common customer share. So, who might be the winner? GHA Discovery. GHA is the Global Hotel Alliance which operates similarly to an airline alliance. GHA’s founding members were Kempinski, Pan Pacific, Rydges Hotels, and Wyndham International (different than the Wyndham hotel franchising system). With nearly 12 million members, Discovery is a multi-brand program based out of Dubai and counts more than 500 hotels in its portfolio of loyalty. Learn something new every day don’t you? Of course, this program might also be the only one ever with an ancestry that includes a horse racing track—Bay Meadows Racetrack, but that story will have to wait for another day. And now you’ll learn why I included a bit of the GHA history, the Wyndham Rewards program (from the Wyndham hotel franchising system) finished in the third spot. Congrats to GHA Discovery. We feel they have a fine future ahead for themselves in delivering a great loyalty proposition. Interestingly that of the top five for this award, two of them were alliance multi-brand programs (GHA and Leading Hotels).
ALL won four Freddie Awards this year and this is also the fourth time they have won this specific award, years 2020, 2018, and 2017 being the other years. And as the champion of award redemption, it is good to know that they rated in the 9.X range to claim this award, signifying that they really are delivering great value to their members. They finish a point ahead of Marriott Bonvoy which claimed second and a full two points ahead of #5 IHG. Mentioning Marriott, when they acquired Starwood a few years back, they also acquired the Starwood Preferred Guest record of ten Best Redemption Freddie Awards. They have not won the award since acquiring Starwood. #justsayin. MeliáRewards and Hilton Honors are in the middle of this sandwich with #3 and #4 finishes respectively. The surprise? Seeing World of Hyatt in the #10 spot. This is their lowest finish of any category in 2022 and it does not look good on them. And for that number four of ALL (Accor), one other program has won this category four times—IHG Rewards (2014, 2015, 2016, and 2019).
Full Voting Results
Best Redemption Ability – Hotels (Europe & Africa)
There are no six degrees of separation between this award and Accor ALL. Never easy to earn and even more difficult to repeat, this win for ALL features another 9.X rating … for excellence. This category also features the same top five programs (sometimes in different places) in four of the five main categories this year (Redemption, Elite, Customer Service, and Promotion). Marriott Bonvoy claimed the number two spot (*they claimed the number two spot in four of the five main categories this year) while Hilton, IHG, and MeliaRewards followed right behind. One observation …. just 5/100ths of a point separated places #5-#8. MeliáRewards, Wyndham Rewards, GHA Discovery, and World of Hyatt were close enough to be a tie.
Promotions by nature typically have ceilings on their earning power. That’s just the way it typically is. However, Bonvoy busted through that ceiling in 2021 when they offered a Better Two-gether promotion that captured the attention of a membership base that has struggled to find signals that the worst is over from the Covid-era. This promotion allowed members to earn an unlimited amount of double bonus points for stays of two nights or longer at more than 7,500 of their participating properties and double elite night credits between February 16 – April 27, 2021. Members needed no fine print to understand that this promotion was going to make elite status much easier to achieve for 2022. We like this win but it certainly did not come easy for Bonvoy. Right behind them in second place was Accor ALL who was within 1/100ths (8.66 vs. 8.65) with their activation booster promotion: Members could earn up to €120 in points, with 1 to 3 stays of 2 nights or more booked between September 23 and November 4 for stays through December 31, 2021, earning up to 6,000 points. Money (OK, Euros) talks. And since this is show and tell, let’s see what other programs offered up among the top five highest-rated promotions: Hilton Honors (#3) was in with More Nights, More Points >>> Members were able to earn Double Bonus Points on every stay of one or two nights, and Triple Bonus Points on every stay of three nights or more, in addition to Points earned on eligible hotel spend. MeliáRewards (#4) offered up this promotion >>> Your Home Needs a Holiday in which members received up to 30% off stays and up to 20,000 MeliáRewards points on stays booked July 26 – October 3, 2021, for travel through October 31, 2021.
TRIVIA: The promotion offer by Marriott Bonvoy earned the same rating (8.66) both in the American and the Europe & Africa regions. Interesting that differing audiences in nationalities rated it equally. Also, Marriott Bonvoy was the third program in the last three years to win this category award (Accor and IHG were the other winners).