The annual Freddie Awards ranking the best loyalty programs in the travel industry were announced last week at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Taking the top honors for best loyalty program in the U.S. for airlines and hotels were Rapid Rewards from Southwest Airlines and Marriott Rewards respectively. The best program for elites in each category registered as AAdvantage from American Airlines and Hyatt Gold Passport.

That distinction between best program and best elite program is significant depending on what type of traveler the consumer is. Everyday, casual travelers tend to favor Southwest and Marriott because of the wide volume of bookable flights and rooms. AAdvantage and Gold Passport, on the other hand, are popular with frequent business travelers because of perks like upgrades at higher tiers. It’s a distinction that helps set the Freddies apart from other awards that fail to distinguish between different types of travel habits.

Notably missing from this year’s Freddie Awards were Skymiles from Delta Air Lines and MileagePlus from United Airlines. Those two carriers recently changed the structure of their loyalty programs to award elite qualifying miles based on the quantity of money that the consumer spends, drastically reducing the volume of miles that many passengers earn. Along that way, the carriers may have lost some favor with the Freddies voting body.

The Freddies also gave out awards for the best customer service, the best elite promotion and the best redemption availability. The full cast of awards for North American air carriers were:

  • Program of the Year — Southwest Airlines – Rapid Rewards
  • Best Elite Program — American Airlines – AAdvantage
  • Best Promotion — Avianca – LifeMiles
  • Best Customer Service — Southwest Airlines – Rapid Rewards
  • Best Redemption Ability — Avianca – LifeMiles

The full cast of awards for North American hotel operators were:

  • Program of the Year — Marriott Hotels – Marriott Rewards
  • Best Elite Program — Hyatt – Gold Passport
  • Best Promotion — MGM – M life
  • Best Customer Service — Marriott Hotels – Marriott Rewards
  • Best Redemption Ability — Marriott Hotels – Marriott Rewards

In Europe and Africa, KLM and Air France took home much of the favor, while Accor Hotels won three of the hotel prizes.

Airlines

  • Program of the Year — Air France/KLM – Flying Blue
  • Best Elite Program — Lufthansa – Miles & More
  • Best Promotion — Air France/KLM – Flying Blue
  • Best Customer Service — Air France/KLM – Flying Blue
  • Best Redemption Ability — Air France/KLM – Flying Blue

Hotels

  • Program of the Year — Accor Hotels – Le Club Accorhotels
  • Best Elite Program — Starwood – Starwood Preferred Guest
  • Best Promotion — Accor Hotels – Le Club Accorhotels
  • Best Customer Service — Accor Hotels – Le Club Accorhotels
  • Best Redemption Ability — IHG – IHG Rewards Club

For the Middle East and Asia/Oceania, V Australia, IHG and Accor were the big winners.

Airlines

  • Program of the Year — Virgin Australia – Velocity
  • Best Elite Program — EL AL – Matmid Club
  • Best Promotion — EL AL – Matmid Club
  • Best Customer Service — Virgin Australia – Velocity
  • Best Redemption Ability — Virgin Australia – Velocity

Hotels

  • Program of the Year — Accor Hotels – Le Club Accorhotels
  • Best Elite Program — Hyatt – Gold Passport
  • Best Promotion — Accor Hotels – Le Club Accorhotels
  • Best Customer Service — IHG – IHG Rewards Club
  • Best Redemption Ability — IHG – IHG Rewards Club

The full spectrum awards including awards for the best credit card program and also the most improved loyalty programs are available over at freddieawards.com.

 

Photo Credit: Image from last year's Freddie Awards for the travel industry's best loyalty plans. Freddie Awards