NEW ORLEANS, LA – The Marriott Bonvoy team turned out in full force at the 31st annual Freddie Awards in New Orleans, Louisiana. However, after winning 5 awards including the hotel program of the year and best elite program, the team was forced to admit that the Bonvoy program simply isn’t working.
The controversial Bonvoy loyalty program which consolidated several different rewards programs into a single, unified program, has been a target of frequent travelers and loyalty enthusiasts who feel Marriott’s changes to their rewards program took a big step backward.
Starwood Points (SPG) fans feel especially slighted when their hotel chain was acquired by Marriott and the inevitable changes to their once-vaunted loyalty program came tumbling in, and incensing many.
The program has even spawned its own hashtag where travelers experiencing a less than stellar experience on Marriott can identify as having been “Bonvoyed.” There is even a wildly popular Twitter handle of the same name and website.
Loyalty enthusiasts, 8 travel bloggers, and people who still use Blackberry’s were shocked when Marriot’s Bonvoy program pretty much cleaned up at the 31st annual Freddie Awards in New Orleans this year. The Freddie Awards are one of the most prestigious awards in the travel industry and are awarded based on member voting (people who actually use the programs).
“The goal of the Freddie Awards is to give voice to the frequent flyer and to honor the efforts of an industry that counts more than 300 million members worldwide.”Freddie Awards
The dominating performance saw them win five times, including the top two categories for Best Elite [Loyalty] Program and Best Program overall in the Americas. However, it would seem that the performance really set the Marriott team on their heels, forcing the beleaguered loyalty program to admit that the Bonvoy program just isn’t living up to their expectations.
In comments from a Bonvoy representative who was a bit out of breath from the multiple trips up to the award stage, noted, “Despite our efforts to drive loyal members away, they keep coming back. Keep voting for us, and keep being delighted at our properties and our customer service.”
It certainly doesn’t hurt that Hilton pretty much stunk up the joint this year going zero for everything in the award categories – allowing itself to be lapped by casino reward programs and even Wyndham (who most people didn’t even realize was still around).
After the ceremony, a TTN reporter caught up with a Bonvoy team member who wished to remain anonymous. They offered this, “Listen, Hilton is someone we are keeping an eye on. We thought their performance at Freddie’s this year was impressive. Not even being nominated in some categories is inspiring. It’s something to strive for and it’s clear we have a lot of work to do in de-delighing our customers. More to follow as we listen and learn from this experience.”
The same employee shared some ideas that spawned from an emergency brainstorming session held at the bar after the ceremony which saw them take home the prized best program of the year award.
Some ideas included: random wake up calls throughout the night, deactivating the accounts of former SPG elite members (“yeah, just close ‘em all together – they are super bitter anyway. Maybe Wyndham will take ’em”), adding 17 more Bonvoy levels, including the rare Lithium category which requires 387 nights stayed in a single year, and a few other ideas not newsworthy.
TTN reporters attempted to connect with Hilton representatives, but sadly they only sent a maintenance technician to the ceremony and he left quickly after the ceremony.