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).
When Accor ALL first won this category in 2020, it was almost considered a fluke given that Marriott/Starwood had ruled the category for many years. But with this back-to-back win, it is clear that Accor ALL is all in on status. Granted, it was their lowest rating among the four Freddie Awards they won this year, it was mere fractions in comparison to their y-u-g-e win in Program of the Year. Perennial category winner Marriott (with assistance from Starwood) finished second with the now usual group of MeliáRewards, Hilton, and IHG right behind. This is MeliáRewards’ second category in which they finished in a #3 spot. Good on them. However, let us note that there is a rating drop below Marriott Bonvoy in the #2 spot of 1.1 points before MeliáRewards claims the #3 spot. We do not think it is good to see such a gap in ratings in this important category so high up. In fact, there is less than a 1.1 point rating drop from the #3 spot to the #10 spot.
TRIVIA: When Accor ALL first won this award in 2020, they broke a streak of 17 consecutive years in which either Marriott or Starwood won this category.
Program of the Year has its own cache as an award—best of the best. This year, Accor ALL won this award just as they have the previous six Freddie Awards making them an eight-time winner. They wrestled away the title from Starwood Preferred Guest in 2013 and haven’t looked back except in 2014 when IHG Rewards Club bested everyone. If you have but one Freddie Award, this is likely the one to earn but in counting their wins up this year it is but one of four for them to have taken home. In a category this important, all finishes matter, and Marriott Bonvoy, winner of the Program of the Year in the Americas finished in the number two spot. Accor ALL also finished well for Program of the Year in Middle Eat & Asia where they finished in the number two spot. Following right behind Marriott were Hilton and IHG with 210 Award winner GHA Discovery closing out the top five programs. In numbers six and seven, MeliáRewards and Radisson Rewards were close with their own cigars. As we look over all the finishers here, we’re most intrigued with IHG, a former winner who quite recently announced a complete refresh of their program. Similar to the refresh of Aeroplan in the airline program arena, a refresh can often move s needle. Let’s hope the race is on because members often win when the competition is new and close. One final observation: ALL’s rating of 9.16 is the highest rating of any of the three hotel Program of the Year wins. That deserves a virtual standing applause.