Audio Transcript

Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty, an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m your host, Paula Thomas. And if you work in loyalty marketing, join me every week to learn the latest ideas from loyalty specialists around the world.

This show is sponsored by Sonder. The global authority on owned media valuation and leverage. Whether you are in travel financial services, retail, or telecommunications, loyalty programs like yours are typically generating $70 million per year in owned media value. Visit sondermedia.com to find out how you can unlock the value of your owned media. Sonder, the global authority on owned media.

Hello, and welcome to episode 224 of Let’s Talk Loyalty, which is celebrating the winners of the 2022 Freddie Awards. Now, for those of you who don’t work in the travel industry, you might not be aware of these awards, but I can assure you, they are super famous with both the airline and the hotel loyalty program owners and equally members, frequent flyers and guests from all over the world. The Freddie’s are considered the gold standard in loyalty, as they truly represent the voice of the millions of customers who vote for the winning brands in each category and across each region of the world. I am delighted to be joined today by the founder of the Freddie Awards, Randy Petersen. And I hope you enjoy listening to the fascinating story of how these awards came about more than 30 years ago. And also today we’re sharing which airlines, which hotels, and credit cards were honored with the top awards in New Orleans at the 2022 awards that were just announced last month in April.

So Randy Petersen, founder of the Freddie Awards, I am absolutely honored to have you on the show. Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty,

 The pleasure’s all mine. And after seeing your name and the industry for so many years, this is actually an honor that is mostly for me. So thank you.

Oh, it’s super exciting, Randy. And I know you’re at the 31st edition of the Freddie Awards. So today we’ll be explaining to everybody who may not be familiar for example, outside the travel industry, exactly the heritage and the intention of this amazing work that you do, particularly for airlines and hotels around the world. But before I get into all of that background, Randy, I would love to know just from a personal perspective, what is your favorite loyalty program?

You know, without thinking it’s, it’s easy, it comes from just the heart it’s Holiday Inn. It’s an original frequent guest program, if you will. And the reason for that is simple. I’m actually, I’m an Iowa farm boy by trade. If you will, the idea that, you know, growing up baling hay in the summertime, the idea that I could grow up and see some of the world, and I really got associated with frequent flyer programs, really through Holiday Inn’s guest program, I worked for a retail company, a clothing company, and the corporate policy was the say in Holiday Inn expresses at the time. And I did, I stayed in a lot of them, but I figured out how to stay in all those properties and ended up going to Europe when I was just getting started. And that was such a special memory of the idea that a guy could go from outside of Sioux City, Iowa, to Paris or London and all because of the guest program. So people laugh at me about like, wow, you still stay in Holiday Inn. And I go, yeah, that’s where I started from. And I’m still there today.

Oh my goodness. So I would love to, I suppose, you know, understand, do you think that’s because of the guest program and the, the rewards you experienced or would you say it’s just, you fell in love with the brand because you were staying with them so frequently.

Yeah. You know, I think your second point is the best is that I fell in love with the brand. And you know, when you start out, it was more about loyalty. I mean, that’s kind of what I got into later on, but it was about loyalty. And when I reflected back upon my parents always shopping at Sears and, and doing certain things, there was a lot of loyalty in generations before me and that passed on to me. So Holiday Inn was where I started and I never ventured far from that. And yeah, I’ve stayed in a four seasons and yeah, I’ve got a lot of Marriott points, but Holiday Inn is still a special part because it gave me the freedom to travel and eat things that I could never have wished for.  But more importantly, I could have never afforded. So that’s the value of loyalty programs. And in my case saying true to an initial plan.

Well, I love that Randy. And I think when loyalty is done well, it does give us that sense of what’s possible. And I think the inspiration piece is really important in the whole journey so that you get to get inspired and then have the full experience. It’s beautiful.

Yeah, it is. And you know why? I’ve got a lot of high flying friends all over the world. And when I tell them that, or when I’m asked that and reply to that, I think they understand what the Freddie’s are about, or certainly what I’m all about. And that is, is that there is not a single brand that’s best for everyone. So in my case, I found everything I needed in a hotel say, was it Holiday Inn? I didn’t need the concierge as I didn’t know what to do with them. And I, you know, I got in late at night from traveling and I was out first, early in the morning, so I really never needed to pool on the rooftop if you will.  So you know, those things, but I think people who travel and have been in the business, kind of know that reflective, everybody’s got a little bit different tastes of what the value quotient is for them and what is important to them in a stay. And I found somebody just knowing my name was pretty cool. And so anyway, that’s, it stayed with me and it’s still with me after all these years, because this year Freddie Awards celebrated 31 years of honoring the voice of the frequent flyer. And, you know, that’s important to me because, you know, these are big companies out there and a typical frequent flyer program today has over a hundred million members. And it’s, it’s easy to say, wow, well, does my voice count? Am I important? There’s a hundred million people in the same program. And the truth is, is that yeah, every voice is important.

And I do love that you structured it literally at that frequent flyer level, Randy. So as you said, the voice of the frequent flyer to make sure that they got to say exactly what is the best airline, the best hotel. And I know certainly the best travel, travel credit cards as well. So is that where the whole inspiration came from your own belief that it was only the customer’s perspective, I guess that mattered?

You know, you, you should be on this side of the microphone because that is absolutely the way it started in that. I started The Freddie’s in 1988, so let’s be real 1988 was before what people call social media these days, there was none of that out there. However, in my own mind, I spend a lot of time with my early readers of a magazine, I published back then called inside flyer. And the idea was, Hey, Randy, which program is the best program? Hey Randy, who should I be staying with? Or who should I be flying with? And the reality was is that I could have put on my editorial hat if you will. And as some people do and say, well, based upon this and this and this, this is the best program. But the reality is, is that we all measure value and loyalty in different ways. So earlier on I became a wimp because, and I say that in a humorous way, because I, I knew what was best for Randy Petersen, but I did know what was best for many in Memphis or Dan and the Dakotas or whatever it might be. Everybody had something different. So the idea was, is let me ask a bunch of people that I know, and this again was 1988. And let me figure out, which is the best value from there because if I can ask enough people, those that are the most valuable will bubble up to the top and maybe that’s the answer. So what I say, I became a wimp because instead of me saying, well, I think that XYZ is the best program I could now say. And again, this is 1988, I could say, based upon asking a couple hundred-thousand people out there, they say, and they ranked this as the most valuable program. And so I was able to escape from me saying anything and actually letting them know what they say. And they been my fellow frequent flyer.

Yeah, it’s perfect. And the name, the Freddie Awards does come from a very special gentleman by the name of Sir Freddie Laker. So again, just for people who maybe haven’t been to your website, Randy, would you maybe just explain exactly, you know, who was Freddie Laker and why did you name the awards after him?

Yeah, yeah, it’s really a good story. And it has a good ending as well, too. In 1988, when I decided to start this idea, which was, let me ask a bunch of people and find out who they think the best programs are. I struggled with thinking, okay, there must have been an Oscar out there for the Oscars. There must have been Emmy out there for the Emmy’s, highest man for the highest men award, and it seemed like awards always had a name, somebody’s name, and I struggled and actually Sir Freddie Laker was well before my time, but his impact on the industry, so I started asking around and doing research and I came upon this name and it was Sir Freddie Laker and back in the sixties and seventies, and those years there, he started Laker Airways and something called SkyTrain, which was basically the advent of low-cost air transportation across the Atlantic. And it was an amazing story because the big guys wanted to put them out of business. The idea of a low-cost guy coming in was not a, was not welcome if you will, but he persevered and was pretty successful in upending and changing travel, so I think a lot of people, including me and you, and really everybody owes it to a Freddie Laker at a time before his impact to introduce low-cost travel across the Atlantic and it introduced Europe to a lot of Americans and backpacking on $5 a day and all the things that other people did. And later on, he was eventually knighted by the Queen of England, and I’m thinking in my head, wow, if he’s that important to have been knighted by the Queen of England, it’s good enough for me. I had never met him really until my research did know anything about him, so I named him the Freddie Awards and it was many, many years later that I actually got around to contacting him and saying, Hey, by the way. And that, that time he had been a long time retired, living in The Bahamas, and I contacted him not knowing what was going to happen, I’m thinking, oh, is this a copyright infringement? Is he could be that? But he turn out to be a  wonderful English gentleman, and we struck off a great friendship, and he and his wife, Lady Jacqueline were to guest that many Freddie Awards for many years until he passed away in 2006. So now where, who is Freddie Laker?

Oh, that’s a gorgeous story, Randy. I’m really thrilled that you got to create that close connection with them because as you said, his career was absolutely extraordinary. And sometimes when people retire, perhaps they don’t want to get involved, but you know, clearly, he was extremely proud and yes, of course, I can only imagine the joy of being knighted by the Queen, but then to have the entire global industry recognized through his name and through your work, that was a wonderful contribution. So I’m sure you made him very, very happy.

I did. And you know, he was a mentor for a lot of others, aviation and airline people that a lot of your listeners will recognize. He was a mentor to Richard Branson who started in Atlantic and many other the Virgin brand companies if you will. And he also got knighted later on. So, but anyway, Richard Branson who I’ve met later in life as well too, also commented about the impact that Freddie Laker had on the industry and on personally. And so, yeah, it wasn’t just about Freddy, It was about the things that he passed on to future generations.

Yeah. And my favorite line in terms of the actual history, Randy, in terms of his career, and again, it’s obviously hugely extensive. Well, we all know how difficult it is to, to create a profitable business, particularly in the airline sides. I don’t know the hotel side so well, but what you say on the website that for 35 years Laker managed and operated commercial aircraft businesses to profitability an enviable record indeed 35 years. It’s unbelievable.

It is considered that the rest of the industry was trying to drive him out of business because nobody wanted low-cost care or that kind, He was reck as flamboyant too, He was well known at the horse racetrack that’s for sure, and his own stables and things like that, but a wonderful guy, and I actually had formed such a close relationship later on, if you will, that I was asked to deliver his eligi at his funeral in The Bahamas, and it was a great honor for me for again, somebody that I really had never met and, or anything until much, much later into the Freddie Awards.

Wow. And I know you value mentorship greatly Randy mentioned it to me last time we spoke so wonderful that you had a mentor as well, that that really inspired you as to, I guess what’s possible.

Yeah, it is. And you know, you, sometimes you don’t really realize it at the time, but you know, as we go through business, we go through life. We sometimes kind of circle back around and look at how we got there. And I can certainly say with all, with all respect at Sir Freddie had a profound effect upon his experiences that he shared with me, but also the idea that we were able, and I was able to, to make sure that his impact on the travel industry stayed alive. And I hope that your listeners now know who Sir Freddie Laker was.

For sure. For sure. Randy. So here we are at 31 episodes on, let’s say 31 award ceremonies. So you just literally had the 2022 awards. And before we get into sharing with listeners exactly who won across the various regions and categories, I would love to just get a sense of, you know, how does it actually work in practice? So we’ve talked about it being the voice of the customer. So how do you get votes from people and what kind of scale are we talking about in terms of the actual voting?

Well, I can tell it’s based more on just a handful of frequent flyer out there. We were earlier on lucky enough that the industry from what I was doing in publishing in a magazine at the time InsideFlyer, that the industry woke to the idea that customers mattered. And that’s how I came into this. I was writing a magazine and writing about life as a frequent flyer, and things that mattered, and the value of the program. So luckily for us earlier on the industry itself adopted the Freddie’s as kind of a measure point, if you will, because at that point, you know, frequent flyer programs were still relatively young in 1988. Not everybody had a program and there were certainly no measure as to the good ones, the bad ones, good value, not so good value, things like that. So luckily for us, the industry adopted and they helped us get out the vote, and that was a major, major part of making the Freddie’ssuccessful because today it’s not about, it started probably as the readers of InsideFlyer Magazine, and at the time I had about 70 – 80,000 readers of the magazine. But as time went on, if you will, what the industry adopting, they would go out to their members and their newsletters, and later on the internet, if you will, the worldwide web, thank you very much technology. And they would promote the vote basically. So what started with, oh, and I don’t remember how many votes in the first year, if you will. It was in the thousands, probably tens of thousands, but today 2022, we had two and a half million voters this year, which was actually down a bit because I think coming off of COVID travel still in a slumber period is still not wide awake, but, and 2019 before COVID we had four and a half million voters out there so when we say that The Freddie’s represent the voice of the flyer to a frequent flyer to traveler, if you will, it represent a lot of voices, so those winners that go home with a Freddie Awards, those aren’t just handed out those actually earned by what they do with their members, because everybody who promotes the vote, every program that does, that takes a risk that they haven’t done as well as they could and making sure every member is happy with their program. So anyway, that’s the volume that we have these days and that’s, that’s the way it is, but it also gives a, a stage for the entire travel loyalty industry, if you will, because, okay, you’ve heard of Marriott, I’ve heard of Marriott, but how many people would say I stayed at a choice hotels last night, or how many would say, oh yeah, Best Western is my favorite program, those are much, much smaller numbers, but in my mind, and that’s the goal of the Freddie’s is Freddie’s gives every program of voice on a world stage. And you often see that sometimes choice hotels actually has one of Freddie Awards and other people like Marriott would say, who was that? Oh, what is that? Even though there are also American Airlines and United Airlines, there are more than British Airways. And so there’s a great equilibrium equality, if you will, from the voice of the frequent flyer.

And did you always have the three regions of the world Randy from the outset? I mean, I know you have specific categories now across the Americas and then separately, Europe and Africa, and then, you know, great for me the Middle East and Asia and Oceana. So with that in place since 1988, or did that evolve over time?

An excellent question and great observation. That’s why you’re on that side of the microphone. Now, after we started out in typical because frequent flyer programs got their start in the states, if you will. So the early activity was just here in the state. So earlier Freddie’s, the first, oh, let’s say 10 years or so were really just US-based or North American programs because the earlier program required, interestingly enough, like Japan Airlines required a US mailing address to belong to that program when they first started, there were no real local based programs. So monthly, we had attention was on north America at the time. And so we started with North America and then as the industry let’s say, grew up on blossomed, then we went with it. We added in, as you say, to EMEA or Europe Middle East Africa, and then the Asia area representing because you look at places like China, I mean, there’s 12 airlines in China right now, but people couldn’t name any of them, but you know, China Southern China Air, the list goes on and on and on. So the idea again is that the Freddie Awards is about the world as a stage for the travel loyalty programs.

Absolutely. And with that kind of context, then Randy, do you want to share maybe some of the winners with the audience? And I’m thinking perhaps the airline program of the year is probably the most prestigious now I know there’s, you know, five different categories that do win, but for example, in the Americas who won the airline best loyalty program of the year, this year.

Yeah. In the Americas it’s Southwest Airlines, Rapid Rewards Programs and they’ve now won that award. Now I think seven or eight years in a row and a little backstory on that is I remember when they first won that award and the rest of the industry was scratching their heads. And basically, looking at me and saying is the Freddie Awards really accurate anymore? I mean, Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher? who’s that guy? And it was really interesting at the time because most everybody just like the rest of the industry had been brought up to believe that it was United Airlines, TWA Airlines at the time, but low-cost carriers had no, they weren’t going anywhere. They were nobody, and I think what people miss is that the frequent flyer themselves decides what the value is in loyalty. They decided when they buy an airline ticket, they decide when they accumulate miles and points, they decide when they want to redeem those miles and points. So Southwest Airlines has really done a terrific job, but you know the idea and you get this and that it’s not about winning a Freddie, It’s about repeating a Freddie because there’s a lot of things just like music, how many bands can you name where one hit wonders? Southwest Airlines is not a one-hit wonder. They took on winning their first Freddies and said, let’s double down. Let’s make sure we’re gonna win on another Freddie. And that’s what I like to hear from the industry as they use the Freddie as motivation to add additional value and, and make sure they continue to do that. So Southwest Airlines in the Americas was a big winner, and actually Europe, and this program started to come up a couple of years ago by kind of nibbling around the edges, finishing maybe fourth or fifth, and then third or fourth. And it’s a TAP, a TAP Air Portugal, and I think what it represents is that during the pandemic for the last two years, some programs reinvented themselves for different value and Air Portugal is that I’ve actually only flown them once. So I have very limited experience, but when I looked at their rating, their rating this year, now here’s an example is Southwest Airlines, won program in a year in Americas with an 8.75 rating. And that’s on a scale of 10 now TAP or Air Portugal, won their program at a year with a 9.46 rating. It gives you idea that whoa, that’s almost 10, they are really delivering on great value. So that was a, another winner, and then, and Asia, and this is a first time actually, this airline has one of Freddie Award and it was Singapore Airlines. Most people would think that, well, they always have had a class A reputation for great service and stuff, but their loyalty program always lacked behind that, there was an airline that could live with their reputation of service that maybe not so much with loyalty this last year, and I think it represents a pandemic year, they were able, and again, here’s another airline that rated a 9.2, 3 out of 10. So their value now and their program is even higher than Southwest Airlines on a scale of 1 to 10.

My goodness. Well, I’m sure there was some very happy people from Singapore Airlines and Air Portugal, and of course, Southwest, and what I wanted to comment on as well, Randy was certainly for Air Portugal and for, as you said, Singapore Airlines, both of those won, all five of the categories that you offer, the the Freddie Awards for so amazing that once they do, I suppose, put their mind to it. And it seems those two particular airlines, they won best to lead program, best promotion, best customer service, and best redemption ability, so really consistent performance, particularly from those two.

It is because very rarely, I mean, I could, and the Freddie’s are now 31 years old, but I don’t think I could count on more than two or three fingers when that has ever happened in the history of the Freddie with the entire category. I think the only other airline that did that years ago was Virgin Australia swap a lot of categories in their hay days back then, but here in North America, no program really sweeps anything, that’s just too much competition, And, but it was, it was part of surprise, but you know, we don’t hand the Freddie Awards out. Those are actually earned and they come from the, you know, the mouths, if you will, of the frequent flyer, so congratulations to those, those that took home, their Freddie Awards this year.

Incredible. And I also really like The 210 Awards Randy. So you might just explain what the 210 Awards is? and then maybe share again with listeners who want it across each of the regions.

Yeah. Thanks for asking about that. The 210 are really one of my favorite and special award, because again, Freddie Awards is not a popularity contest. It’s not on who gets the most votes. It, it doesn’t work that way. It, it ranks on value. The 210 Awards are based upon those to qualify in the Freddie Awards, you have to earn at least 2% of the overall balloting. And the reason that is, is that you want to protect against us a way small program with just a handful of votes that doesn’t work, you need some masses and it helps to help get out the vote. Now, The 210 Awards are the highest-rated program of those programs with between 2% of the vote and 10% of the vote. So, you know, it’s, it’s basically those that they could be a large program, could be a small program, but the density of the votes isn’t like in the millions, if you will. So that is why the 210, it’s more of a kind of organic, I guess you would say, this is the recognition of usually a smaller program, but not always, sometimes it’s a newer program or a relaunch program, and we can immediately see what kind of impact for instance, this year in the Americas, Aeroplan, Air Canada’s frequent flyer program won the 210 Awards, and somebody might say, well, that’s a Canada’s Airline. Well, not really. They relaunched it this year, brand new with a lot of cutting edge. Now, a lot of the bigger programs, it would be very difficult for them to start all over Air Canada did start all over with some new benefits and stuff, but Air Canada is also part of one of the largest airline global alliances. So you can fly United Airlines and still learn Air Canada status, and a lot of frequent flyer programs have figured out how to play that game, that you can fly many different airlines and be loyal to Aeroplan. So Aeroplan won the 210 Award this year, and that’s a good one. And uniquely enough in Europe or this one really, I’d say of all the awards issued. This one caught my attention, Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club won the 210 Award in Europe this year. And what was interesting about that at first I go, whoa, I didn’t see that coming because typically VA gets a lot of attention, but there’s a lot of other great programs in and around Europe, but then I realized that Virgin Atlantic had really redone their currency this year. They’ve expanded out with their Red currently, if you will. And now their currency is much more flexible, much more easier to earn than just for flying, and it’s like, wow, there it is, The Freddie Awards actually worked because frequent flyers of that program immediately, same to voted that, Hey, we like what this airline is doing. And they’re a much smaller airline. Remember Virgin Atlantic doesn’t have domestic flights. So that was a nice surprise. And then another surprise. This is my second one out of Asia was Garuda Indonesia, actually won a 210 Award. And it’s like, wow, I guess if I didn’t pay attention, I would’ve never have known that they were working really, really hard to get that kind of value, and it worked out okay. Their value vote on that was 8.23 just above Air New Zealand’s 8.03. So I liked the idea that the Freddie Awards brings to attention. And again, gives the world a stage to all kinds of frequent flyers based upon the frequent flyers themselves.

Super, super you’re absolutely right Randy. I have not paid any attention to Garuda Indonesia and the Gouda Miles Program. And I certainly have spoken and interviewed, in fact, both the Virgin Atlantic Program, as you talked about Virgin Red and also Aeroplan as well. So very familiar with those, but again, this is super useful for me to put Garuda on my wishlist and bring them on the show. Hopefully.

Well, their customers are saying they do a very good job and that’s when we want to pay attention is when they say it, not just the airline.

Brilliant, brilliant. So let’s just go through then the programs of the year for hotels at Randy. And would you share with the listeners who won in each of the regions?

Yeah, we can do that. There’s a familiar name, of course, in the, in the US if you will, or North America more appropriately and Marriott’s Bonvoy Program as one program at a year. And I think there are about 12 years a row now winning program or the year or so now there’s an Asterik attached to that because part of it is people are sending the program would know that Marriott had bought the former Starwood property. So Westin and Sheraton are all now part of the Marriott brand and actually Starwood under the original SPG or Starwood Preferred Guest Program. Actually, that program has won the most Freddie Awards of any program, airline, or hotel in the history of the Freddie Awards. It was, it was a very well biked and there was a lot of tears when Marriott took it over,I mean, that’s just, that’s, I mean, that’s the industry of business if you, but Marriott has worked pretty hard. I mean, it’s not easy when you’re that big to take on another mega brand like that, and please everyone. But I think this right when right here is special with them to add to their streak of program at a year. But also the idea that even when the industry changes overnight, like COVID did that ranks of their loyalty still exists today. So congratulations to Marriott on that. And then coming out of Europe and Asia, we find a brand that most of your listeners and even myself are not that familiar with its ITC Hotels, they really come out of India, but they have hotels all over the place. And they’re one of those programs that would frankly be overlooked if it wasn’t heard of Freddie Awards, because I don’t know that you’ve had ITC Bell’s as a guest on your podcast before and before they started to appear in the Freddie’s I’m not sure that I was that familiar with the brand, but this year they had a value boat of 9.05. So it means that somebody’s paying attention and that’s their customers because we look at back at Marriott, Marriott won program a year at an 8.67. So to value vote the loyalty, if you will, for ITC is actually really, really good. And that comes out, excuse me, my mistake that comes out of the Asia area, if you will. And we’ll jump to Europe and Europe is a brand and a lot of people have become more familiar with the Accor Brand, Accor Hotels is this is not their first rodeo as we say, Accor hotels has actually won, a whole lot of Freddie Awards, the last X number of years. And they’ve been very aggressive of acquire new chains and, and doing unique things. I mean Accor Hotel, interestingly enough, has one of Freddie Awards, under three different brands. So oldest right now is called “ALL” and it stands for Accor Live Limitless. Now I’m not sure who their branding person was. It doesn’t roll off my tongue that well, but the idea that they have renamed their loyalty program as they’ve grown as a hotel company if you will, the third time, and they’ve won a Freddie Award under eight different loyalty brands, whatever they’re doing, they’re doing a really good job. So congratulations to Accor.

That’s absolutely right. I was going to literally say, it doesn’t matter what they call it. It’s, it’s the underlying value that’s being appreciated. So, so that’s wonderful. So again, they’ve been on the show, so I’m a huge fan of what Accor is doing. And I think you’re right, Randy. I think we’re much more familiar with this in the Europe region and you know, they are headquartered in, in France, but I do see them doing extraordinary work globally, even here in Dubai today. And I believe they’re, they’re taking over the, the Queen Elizabeth The Second, the cruise ship, which is, is stationed here in Dubai, operates as a hotel. And I believe Accor is going to be operating that and refurbishing it so lots to see coming forward from Accor.

Yeah, they’ve been pretty aggressive and, In Europe, you know, actually Marriott finish second, Hilton finished third and Ashe finished fourth, so there was a lot of competition, but it was a local favorite in Europe that rose to the top.

Totally. And what about the 210 Awards across the three regions? Randy, do you want to mention those as well for us?

Yeah. Thanks for being a champion of all those things. Cause you know, 210 Awards represent, you know, those that may not get the world of attention. So when we look at the 210 Awards, the first one that comes to mind in the Americas, if you will actually world with Hyatt won the 210 Award this year, they’re a much smaller footprint than, than let’s say Marriott or Intercontinental Hotel Group or even Hilton, if you will. But how that has a really strong, strong loyalty factor. It’s one of those, it’s like a boat peak, if you will, hotel loyalty programs, small, but really, really good. A world of Hyatt won in, in the Americas for that. And I’m thinking Europe, yeah, Europe, it’s actually another hotel chain that a lot of people might not be familiar with. And it’s GHA and their program GHA Discovery, which actually interestingly enough is a low ranking programs, it only ranked at 6.67 on the value, but it’s a much smaller program. So for them to won a 210 Award it’s one of those programs that no one, absolutely no one would have probably heard of, if it was before the Freddies being about being inclusive, recognizing those who are doing a really good job in The 210 does that, it, it has that sweet spot of categories that many would probably miss out there. And then of course in Asia, it’s a familiar brand, but it’s a luxury brand that some people often overlook and it’s Shangri-La Hotels and it’s easy to overlook because Shangri-La has a, you know, like a Four Season or The Ritz-Carlton or, or The Peninsula, they are an upscale brand, and a lot of people don’t associate interestingly enough loyalty programs with upscale brands. And I think that Shangri-La this year does, and they’ve really in this, just recently renamed their program relaunch in it. So they are paying attention to the idea that this new generation, the millennials and beyond out there that are saying loyalty different and you know, the economy of the world, whether it’s technology-driven or whatever has a lot more of the younger generation, others where loyalty or programs, actually loyalty programs are important to them, but how do they fit in with luxury brands? And I think that’s what you’re saying was Shangri-La.

Absolutely another beautiful brand, Randy. And again, both GHA Discovery and Shangri-La have been on the show recently, so am so absolutely wonderful. And again, really delighted to see World Of Hyatt coming through and hopefully we’ll get them on the show at some stage as well in the future. So our last category then is the best loyalty credit card for the three regions. So I can see some consistency outside of the Americas, but maybe let’s talk about the one that won the Americas first of all.

Yeah. It’s probably just rolling of of, of what we said earlier about Southwest Airlines and that people of all sorts, it doesn’t matter if you’re a high flyer or on a company expense account or just an occasional traveler, Southwest Airlines frequent flyer program has become extremely relevant, but they didn’t quit with just the programs. They put a lot of attention into the benefits of plastic, if you will. And for a number of years they’ve won and this year is another repeat year for them. They’ve won that they’re a Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. And so that has done extremely well. And interestingly enough, the value on that, the value vote, the average of, of those that have voted was within two tenths of the same value boat of the program themselves, and for me that tells me that it wasn’t chase bank or somebody else just delivering a plastic product for Southwest, It was Southwest Airlines, making sure that everything they do represents their core values and loyalty and it’s really represented there. If we move over to a Europe, it’s a program that actually is extremely popular throughout the world, but it competes a lot with the one of program. And that is the American Express Membership Rewards Program. And they are a constant winner. They won several Freddie Awards in Asia. They won a few in Europe. They do have some in North America, but you know, competition for plastic is extraordinary out there. And every frequent flyer program doesn’t have just one frequent flyer card. They often have four or five for an offering. So it’s easy to say that in any region out there right now. And of course, the rest of the world was slow to adapt because plastic got its start really here in the states, but people, a typical category now has maybe a hundred or hundred and ten different entries in credit cards out there because you don’t get a program even like United has a credit card offering and Paraguay or Brazil. I mean, this is not just a US or a European thing. And then over in, over in Asia, if you will following kind of like Southwest Airlines, Singapore Airlines with their KrisFlyer Credit Card issued by American Express actually won in that category as well too. And they, with an 8.66 rating, if you will. So again, Singapore seems like as following what Southwest now, interesting Singapore is known as extremely high-value service, great high touch, great product, where Southwest is known as low-cost carrier, No pre-boarding stand in line type thing, but yet both of them at the extremes of what they are is airlines have great value in their loyalty offerings and in their product mix such as the credit card.

For sure. And it also gives me hope as well, Randy, you know, because for example, you know, I come from Ireland and Ryanair is one that I’ve often wished would actually, you know, follow more of what Southwest is doing because the operational model, I understand to be pretty much identical. It’s lean, it’s low cost, but they don’t seem to have followers. Now I haven’t checked recently, but I would love to see the likes of Ryanair adopting a loyalty strategy and really being, you know, really generous to their customers at some point. So anyway, that’s my wish for the future, but definitely inspired by looking at what Southwest is doing. It’s fantastic.

Yeah, you never know, but you know, but you know, there are success in Europe like Norwegian Air Shuttle then got us frequent flyer, Freddie Awards, if you will. So it can work over there, but it depends upon the airline or the hotel company buying into what loyalty is. And that the idea is that if you just want to compete on price, go right ahead. And that’s what Ryanair is doing. And there’s a winner in that, but they’ve been knocked around a bit too, but you know, beyond price, there are other things that really matter. And it’s somewhat generational as, as new generations of travelers come on board, but you get the end of the day, you want to just compete on price, go right ahead, but make no apologies for it. However, if you want to say, well, what’s number two, it could be loyalty. And that’s important.

For sure. For sure. Well, hopefully they’re listening now. I’m not sure Randy, but we’ll hope for the best, but listen, it’s been an absolute joy to talk to you. As I said, Randy really inspirational what you’ve been doing for so many years. I think we’ve covered everything in terms of the Freddie Awards that I wanted to ask you. Was there anything else that you wanted to mention for listeners and closing?

No, I’m all about the Freddie Awards and I’m all about because in its pure sense, it’s just a voice that a frequent flyer and, you know, as a guy that sit in 23 B way too often, if you go, I myself, even like the idea that I have a voice and who’s doing a really good job out there. So now it’s all about the Freddie Awards. And thanks for listening. I’m a, I’m a talking head on this and I could go on for a week because I just love the fact that, you know, all my friends are frequent flyers and that’s a good thing in this world.

Well, I can hear your passion coming through Randy, and it’s come through your entire career, the work that you’ve done, and the contribution you’re making to the whole industry, so with that said, I want to thank you for joining me on the show today, Randy Petersen, founder of the Freddie Awards. Thank you so much from Let’s Talk Loyalty.

This show is sponsored by The Loyalty People, a global strategic consultancy with a laser focus on loyalty, CRM, and customer engagement. The Loyalty People work with clients in lots of different ways, whether it’s the strategic design of your loyalty program or a full service, including loyalty project execution. And they can also advise you on choosing the right technology and service partners. On their website, The loyalty people also runs a free global community for loyalty practitioners, and they also publish their own loyalty expert insights. So for more information and to subscribe, check out theloyaltypeople.global.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty. If you’d like us to send you the latest shows each week, simply sign up for The Let’s Talk Loyalty Newsletter on letstalkloyalty.com and we’ll send our best episodes straight to your inbox. And don’t forget that you can follow Let’s Talk Loyalty on any of your favorite podcast platforms. And of course, we’d love for you to share your feedback and reviews.

Thanks again for supporting this show.