If there’s one thing almost guaranteed to get people riled up, it’s an awards show. That’s no exception when it comes to travel awards. Whenever there’s a list of “Best of” that comes out, for everyone that agrees with the choice there are even more that think the people giving the award have gone insane. There’s an old saying about opinions that comes to mind, I’m sure you know the one I’m talking about.
This is accentuated when you’re dealing with anything which uses the people’s choice to pick the winners. In your opinion, whomever is voting must be crazy. I’m reminded of how Golden Corral was the runner-up in the Orlando Sentinel newspaper’s “Best Overall Restaurant” category. No matter if it’s the American Music Awards, Peoples’ Choice Awards or just watching The Voice, your opinion is the right one and everyone else is just wrong.
So why do we love to hate award shows and in particular the winners of said awards so much?
Nowhere did I see so much of this vitriol towards an awards ceremony as during the announcements of the winners of The Points Guy Awards on Twitter.
There’s no doubting that TPG’s website has a massive number of readers ranging the spectrum of travelers from novices who have never collected a point in their lives to people traveling around the world non-stop. You’d guess that people voting for the awards would also cover all types of travelers.
And the winner is
When the award for the Best Hotel Loyalty Program was given to Marriott Bonvoy, Twitter lost its mind. There were a number of people questioning the awards, saying that the only way Marriott could have won was because of their apparent cozy relationship with TPG.
How could a program like Marriott Bonvoy, which had troubles spurred the creation of the adverb “Bonvoyed,” win anything? The contest must have been fixed.
My mind immediately flashed back to April and the Freddie Awards. Over 4.2 million ballots were cast and can you remember who won the “Hotel Program of the Year?” That’s right, Marriott Bonvoy. At the time, there was an equal amount of confusion at the winner (but not the accusations of foul play).
It’s a numbers game
Anytime you have an award that’s based on the votes of the masses, who or what is named the winner often comes down to a numbers game. Marriott Bonvoy is easily the largest hotel loyalty program out there, with around 120 million members worldwide. If they write a message asking their members to vote for them and 1% of the people actually do vote, that’s still 1.2 million people.
Most of those people aren’t actively earning and burning points in the program. They run the gamut from road warriors to soccer families following their kids’ travel teams around all summer, to the person who stays in a hotel once every 3 years but likes that Marriott gives them free internet for being a member. The majority of people don’t know about Marriott devaluing the program by introducing peak pricing, ruined their co-brand credit cards for everyday spending or that they killed most of the value of travel packages. These people have never been #bonvoyed, nor have they even heard of the term.
Is it any surprise that Southwest won the Freddie Award for the best airline rewards program while Delta SkyMiles won the TPG award for the same category. Does anyone think Southwest’s fixed value points or earning Delta’s SkyPesos is the best airline loyalty programs? However, they are number 2 and 3 US airlines based on passengers carried. American is #1 so it does go to show if you’re really having problems, just being popular won’t always help you win. American did still win a Freddie for the best elite program.
So who’s right and who’s wrong?
Everyone’s right, or everyone’s wrong. Whichever way you want to look at it. Seeing that a large number of people were willing to take a few minutes out of their day to vote in these contests, they must have some feelings that these programs are offering them something. For all of Marriott’s problems, their award availability at most properties is pretty good. There are fewer stories of manipulating inventory to limit redemptions than you see at a chain like Hyatt, which is starting with fewer properties than Marriott to begin with. The same goes for airlines. While people might not like Southwest or Delta, you’re almost always able to redeem your miles for a flight. Southwest is directly linked to the price and Delta will charge you whatever they want. However, people would prefer paying a few extra miles for a better routing that American’s policy of only offering a three connection flight for the cheapest price or having to pay triple the number of miles for the non-stop alternative.
For the expert, we’d much rather know the sweet spots of a hotel program and book somewhere that will honor our suite upgrade. Being able to redeem points for partner airlines in business class for saver pricing is more important than being able to book an economy ticket whenever you want.
We should be happy that the masses haven’t caught onto us yet. Let everyone else collect Marriott Bonvoy points or Delta SkyMiles. I’ll stay over here collecting Membership Rewards so I can transfer them to Virgin Atlantic to book flights on Delta or Ultimate Rewards for an ANA redemption. For hotel stays, I’ll earn points with hotel promotions and redeem for the times where I can get 1 night free.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary