Home Travel How Has Marriott Bonvoy Won Best Hotel Loyalty Program For 14 Years In A Row?

How Has Marriott Bonvoy Won Best Hotel Loyalty Program For 14 Years In A Row?

by joeheg

Sitting at the Freddie Awards in New Orleans was a surreal experience. I’ve voted for my favorite programs for years and waited for the winners to be announced online. Sometimes I agreed with the voters and other times I couldn’t believe who won.

Being in the room as the winners were announced was more exciting. In the regions besides the Americas, one program won almost every award in each division. The voters universally loved Singapore Airlines, TAP Portugal, Accor and ITC Hotels.

When it came to the Americas, there was more anticipation over who would win. It helped that most people in the room were from the US and had their favorite (or worked for companies) in these categories. For hotels, Marriott Bonvoy won the first award presented for Best Redemption Availability. I understand how they won because the award asked about availability, not value. Can you find a Marriott award when you look? I’m sure most people can. If they have enough points in Marriott, and many people do have a Marriott Bonvoy account, that program will get their vote.

When we got to Best Elite Program, I knew logically that the winner should be Hyatt. They treat top-tier elites better than anyone else. However, Marriott Bonvoy also won that award. At this point, I was shaking my head a bit. We’ve been Bonvoy Platinum for a few years, and besides clearing one AMAZING suite upgrade, the benefits have been moderate at best.

The next hotel award explained everything that had happened so far (and the winner of the final award of the night, which was yet to be announced.)

According to The Freddie Award website, “The 210 Award is given to the best scoring program that is ranked by fewer than 10% of voters. It’s meant to recognize an up and coming program delivering value to members that may not yet be on the radar of as many frequent travelers.”

Which hotel program won the 210 Award for the Americas? World of Hyatt.

That means less than 10% of the voters included Hyatt on their ballot. While we’re on a bit of a Hyatt kick recently, we previously said that the reason we didn’t stay with them is that they’re not where we go. Even Hyatt expanding by 45 properties in 2022-23 isn’t going to make much of a dent.

When the award for Hotel Program Of The Year for the Americas went to Marriott Bonvoy, I wasn’t surprised. I understand why they’ve won 14 Program of the Year Freddies in a row.

How do they win so often? I think it’s because they know their audience and give them what they want. If you talk to Marriott Titanium members or above, they’ll have some issues but they’re generally happy with their treatment. Lower-level members, who make up most voters, don’t have any expectations because no program gives them anything. If you stayed at a few Courtyard by Marriott hotels recently and they were nice and clean, that program deserves your vote. Are you going to vote for Hyatt if you haven’t stayed in one?

I know when your favorite doesn’t win, it feels like you’re being told that you’re wrong. Before saying the Freddie Awards aren’t good because awards don’t go to those who deserve them, remember that these are the People’s Choice Awards. And unlike some awards where the ones with the most votes win, the masses have to say that you are #1 in your category to win a Freddie. The people can love Marriott Bonvoy while you can keep praising Hyatt and neither of you is wrong. In fact, you should be happy that fewer people use your favorite program. More upgrades for you, right?

And Hyatt, congratulations on being nine people’s favorite thing instead of 100 peoples’ 9th favorite thing (brownie points if you get the reference).

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

1 comment

Christian April 29, 2022 - 9:09 pm

An interesting perspective and you certainly make some valid assertions. I disagree overall though, because Marriott has worked so hard to degrade their loyalty program. As a business owner myself I know how intensely difficult it is to gain loyal and engaged customers; Marriott considers these same customers to be – at best – adversaries and this downward spiral has continued for years. I’m moving away from Marriott because handing my money to a company that views me with contempt as an engaged customer just feels wrong. IMO Marriott won because they have vastly more members and they harangued those customers to vote for them. The fact that a company that patently loathes loyal members won any award, let alone multiple ones, tells me that there’s some major inherent problems with the award system. As a resolution, I would suggest basing the number of votes for a specific company as a proportion of the membership to come up with a total score or percentage. That would level the playing field, which would be great if The Freddy’s are truly concerned about fairness rather than membership head counts.

Just for the record, I’ve been Titanium since Bonvoy began and the program has been haphazard at best, with the best being from prior SPG hotels that still recall days of treating elites well.


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