Condé Nast Traveller Award Istanbul Airport
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Do Winners of Awards Influence Your Travel Decisions?

Are awards ceremonies even relevant anymore in travel?

They seem to be everywhere: award ceremonies for frequent travel loyalty programs, airports, airlines, lodging companies, cruise lines, cities, rental car companies, and just about anything else which has any ancillary connection to travel — and the winners proudly announce their accomplishments to the world through advertising and public relations…

Do Winners of Awards Influence Your Travel Decisions?

Skytrax Award Istanbul Airport
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

…but do the winners of awards influence your travel decisions?

As one of countless examples, Delta Air Lines extolled its pride in this official press release for being recognized by the Frequent Traveler Awards as the top loyalty program in the Americas region in four of its five award categories — including best customer service and program of the year for 2021…

…but then again, Delta Air Lines has not won a Freddie Award in years; and I was told by no fewer than two employees of Delta Air Lines prior to the start of the awards ceremony in 2015 that if the airline did win a Freddie Award that they were not doing their job correctly. Nonetheless, a few representatives of Delta Air Lines did attend the event earlier this year.

Do either of those award results influence you to fly more as a passenger on airplanes which are operated by Delta Air Lines — or perhaps stay away from the airline?

Meanwhile, the winners of the 2022 FlyerTalk Awards were never officially announced, which was supposed to occur as early as March of 2022 — and no one seems to have asked or wondered what happened. At the time this article was written, the official Internet web site for the FlyerTalk Awards still proclaims:

“Thank you everyone for your votes! The winners will be announced this Spring!”

The Freddie Awards: Where It All Began For Frequent Travelers

2022 Freddie Awards
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Always thinking of how to further grow his small business and bring more publicity to a publication which was first launched in 1986 called InsideFlyer, Randy Petersen decided to launch the Freddie Awards in 1988 to recognize the most outstanding frequent travel loyalty programs in the world — but he did not want the ranking of frequent travel loyalty programs to be determined by only one person; so he asked readers of InsideFlyer and frequent travelers to cast their ballots. Thousands of people responded to the call for votes — giving frequent fliers a voice to honor the efforts of what was then a growing industry.

The Freddie Awards was named after the late Freddie Laker, who founded Laker Airways in 1966 and was a good friend of Randy. Laker himself said about the awards, “Seeing my name on the Freddie Awards gives me a great thrill. This whole business excites me so much, I can’t believe Randy thought to name them after me.”

As its ebullient master of ceremonies, Randy created an annual event to reveal the winners of different categories of the Freddie Awards each year, channeling his inner Elton John by wearing different outfits each year — whether those outfits included a top hat or cowboy boots. I attended several annual Freddie Awards ceremonies and witnessed Randy perform in his zone at home on stage, entertaining the growing audience of frequent travelers and industry insiders — elevating the ceremony to become an event which anyone with any relation to miles, points and elite status must attend. The only year which I can recall some employees of at least one airline not attending the Freddie Awards was in Atlanta — and that was because the official venue of the Freddie Awards in 2015 was the Delta Flight Museum at the world headquarters of Delta Air Lines. Ironically — despite hosting the event — Delta Air Lines did not win any Freddie Awards that year.

After its 21st year in 2009, Randy decided to retire the Freddie Awards — but members of FlyerTalk worked to keep the tradition going by introducing the Frequent Traveler Awards in 2010 and 2011, which Randy attended as a guest. The Freddie Awards returned in 2012 by popular demand.

This begs the question: why would Delta Air Lines be proud of winning awards from the Frequent Traveler Awards — which was originally created to replace the Freddie Awards — but also proud to not win a Freddie Award?

Final Boarding Call

Freddie Awards 2015 Delta Air Lines
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Even when the Freddie Awards were at the height of relevance during a period of time when they were the most influential in the frequent travel industry, I took the results with a grain of salt at best — not because I had any disrespect for the institution itself or for the algorithms used in how the voting was officially calculated; but because every person has different criteria as to how a frequent travel loyalty program, airport, airline, lodging company, cruise line, city, rental car company, and just about anything else which has any ancillary connection to travel is an award winner. This goes for any award ceremony — of which none of the results have ever influenced my travel decisions…

…but yet, a plethora of award ceremonies which are related to travel currently exist — including those from Skytrax, Skift, Condé Nast Traveller, Travel + Leisure, TripadvisorInternational Travel Awards, Travel & Hospitality Awards, and others. Despite being a founding member of the board of the Frequent Traveler Awards, I had no idea that they had been resurrected — or for how long.

Many factors convince me to try a new product — including if my preferred companies do not conduct business at a destination to where I am heading — but I remain loyal to the companies which I currently patronize as long as they do not jeopardize my loyalty with “enhancements” for which I did not ask and do not benefit me in the least.

Do the results of any of the awards ceremonies influence your travel decisions? What are your thoughts on award ceremonies with regard to travel in general? Do they really matter in the grand scheme of travel?

All photographs ©2015 and ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!