This content may no longer be relevant and is available for reference only. Visit Archive FAQs for more details.
Although Marriott walked away from the 21st Freddie Awards with 9 first place awards* including Best Program, Best Web Site and Best Customer Service, loyal guests voted Marriott third when it comes to redeeming awards.
In a very significant trend-setting upset, Hilton Honors took first place in the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa for Best Awards Redemption. So why did Marriott Rewards place third in Awards Redemption? What's wrong with Pointsavers and discounted multiple night stays? Was it that challenging to redeem nights using points?
Evidently, Marriott Rewards members found it frustrating - at best. Randy Peterson of InsideFlyer.com observes, "This is Hilton HHonors first Freddie Award win in this (EMEA) category--matching its first-ever win in the Americas region in this category--and another possible testament to Hilton's no blackout date or capacity controls policy for award stays."
Elite Rollover Nights** and Double Nights focus on earning points vs redeeming them. The new redemption schedule that increases the number of points to redeem makes it more challenging. Does Marriott deserve third place or is their status in danger of slipping to a fourth or fifth place finish next year? What suggestions do Insiders have for Marriott to consider? What would make it easier to redeem points?
Not an upset TJC, just a reflection of a popularity contest: the voting is contingent on knowing that the award exists and then voting for a particular brand. Kind of like the Academy Awards, except that all voters there are in the business of making or directing or prodcuing motion pictures. In the case of the Freddie awards the voting is voluntary.
I would submit that what matters most is not the place you finish but the service and quality you have and give your customers. Deming said that "customers define quality," a motto that Marriott has and will continue to embrace.
If as you say the Freddie's are about popularity, how is it that Choice hotels can come in 2nd to Marriott? Or, on the frequent flyer side, how can Continental or Delta come in third behind Alaska Airways or Southwest? The maxim is spot on, your customers know 'that you got it right' and will gladly vote to acclaim that you did. In the case of the Freddie's the vote is value-based on a scale from 1 to 10; not the number of votes. That's why Marriott did get 1st place for Best Web Site and Best Program and Best Customer Service. In order to win these categories, loyal Marriott customers had to vote a 9 or a 10. By doing so, they said, "Marriott you got it right when it comes to putting together an easy to use web site." Or, Marriott, "Keep doing what you're doing in terms of the overall Rewards program." In contrast, loyal customers did not say that about Marriott Redemption; they did not give Marriott a 9 or a 10.
Unfortunately, Marriott has more ground to cover with Awards Redemption. In spite of the validity that prices have gone up, the 2009 Point Redemption schedule has not made it easier for loyal customers especially Elite and MVCI owners with multiple weeks retain the value. It's fairly obvious that many executives with decision-making authority can shift their travel business to another brand because from an Awards perspective Marriott needs to rethink the solution.
As said repeatedly in other messages over the past 2 months participating on this forum, I have optimism in Marriott's capacity to listen and act.
Survey research, researach tells us when a participant is confronted with a likert scale of one to ten, most who are favorably disposed will nail the survey--give it a 9 or 10 rather than split hairs. I assume that this was the case here--those who love Marriott did not stray from the highest scores.
Now, as for the airlines and for second place--who can say? I do not fly as much as I used to but know that Continental has made the most imoprovement and is the most likable of the pack at this time, other than Jet Blue and SW, I assume.
Marriott will listen--they implement change.
It's a survey, the methodology is, what it is. If Marriott is listening, what are they listening too? How does Marriott determine member satisfaction when it comes to redeeming points? What questions are being asked?
The gap is real.
InsideFlyer.com's Randy Petersen sums up my sentiments extremely well, "If award redemption is easy, you have a very happy program member. If it's difficult, call out the National Guard, you might need some help. If there's one thing that irks frequent travelers the most, it's the unavailability of awards--and the hassles of redeeming them. We've learned that it's not just about making seats and rooms available, it's also about the process. Does it require members to jump through hoops to get an award? We never said that award redemption would be easy, but some programs make it easier than others. Voters were asked to vote on the program that makes award redemption the most user-friendly--can you get the award you want when you want it?" *
Out of more than 700,000 votes, there were 43,000+ votes cast in this category in the Americas and Marrriott Rewards members cast 27% of them compared to Hilton members who cast 23.5%. This is compared to the winner, Starwood members who cast a mere 10% of the votes. If this were about popularity as you claim it is, Marriott would have won easily. It's not about popularity. It's about making it easy for your loyal customers to get their hard-earned rewards. Not, about putting a false spin on your program, increasing redemption levels across all categories, creating a new category * and calling it an "enhancement."
* see Freddie Awards