There will undoubtedly be many great posts on many sites about the Freddie Awards that will review the winners/losers in the various award categories, but while I will cover a couple of those, I really want to just take you through what it was like to be a part of the “Freddies experience”. This was my first time at this event, so I really didn’t know what to expect. It turned out to be a pretty fancy and very well run event! I feel honored to have been able to attend, and want to share that experience with those of you who weren’t able to join in this year (though I hope many of you can in future years!).
4:30PM – 5:30PM Informal cocktail hour:
Truthfully, this was one of the best parts. Things weren’t too loud, you got to sit around with old friends, meet new friends, talk about current and past promos and just have a good time. I got to hang out during this “pre-event time” with Frugal Travel Guy, Globe Trot Scott, Just Another Points Traveler, Frequent Miler, more old and new friends from Milepoint and Flyertalk. The only downside to this part of the night is you are buying your own drinks – thanks Frugal Travel Guy for my Coke (needed caffeine to wake-up!).
5:30PM: Official happy hour
This is when things started to heat up! Imagine a couple hundred travel industry folks in a dimly lit room with an open bar. It’s loud, it’s crowded, it’s fun. I got to meet the newest BoardingArea blogger who writes Point Me to the Plane, catch up with the Wandering Aramean, meet lots of awesome readers of this site (thank you so much for coming to say hi!), talk to some folks who write about the travel industry, and visit lots of old friends I have met at previous Mega Dos. One of the coolest features of the happy hour was a photo booth! They even printed out copies of the photos for you to take with you. Super cool souvenir. The free drinks and appetizers weren’t bad, either.
7:00PM: Dinner and Awards!
Around 7PM, it was time to move into the main room and grab a plate of food. They had sliders, pastas, sliced meats, pita breads, spreads, and more that you could pile onto your plate. Truthfully, I filled up during the Happy Hour, so didn’t take full advantage of all of the available food during the dinner. Each of the tables also had some bottles of wine on them. Rumor has it that The Points Guy’s table started to barter with other tables for more wine about before the ceremony even started! I’m not sure what time the ceremony actually started, but it was some time after 8PM, so there was a full hour of chatting with other BoardingArea bloggers at our table. There was assigned seating, so I think they put all of us trouble makers at the back of the room on purpose. The event was hosted by Robert Wuhl who was really funny and a great host. I love the story of how he became involved with the Freddie Awards – Gary Leff was booking award tickets to Europe in lie-flat seats for him, his wife, and their two dogs. Gary was successful in finding them seats and then asked if he was the same Robert Wuhl who was an actor. It was, he asked him to help host the Freddies, and the rest is history.
If I’m being honest, the awards part of the evening was my least favorite part, as we didn’t really get to chat and mingle much during that portion of the evening. However, it was great to hear from Randy Peterson, the winners, and all the other presenters – they did a fantastic job of keeping it interesting. The awards took several hours to be given out, and there were some winners that surprised me a bit. One of those surprises was the “Best Loyalty Credit Card” in the Americas winner, Delta SkyMiles Amex. I can’t believe that card beat out the Amex SPG, Sapphire Preferred, and Membership Rewards program. Crazy! The hundreds of thousands of people voting for the Freddies, must not be the same people as the ones on blogs and forums.
I was also a bit surprised at the number of awards that Marriott racked up. In the Americas they won “Best Hotel Program for Redemption”, “Best Hotel Program of the Year”, “Best Hotel Redemption Ability”, “Best Customer Service”, and “Best Elite Program”. I give best elite program hands down to Hyatt Gold Passport (who came in second), but that’s just me…… I certainly have nothing against Marriott (especially since I am staying in the hotel free tonight using a certificate earned in the MegaBonus promotion), but I just don’t see them as beating out all the competitors in all those categories (and there were some gasps in they won some of the categories), but they did win, so a big congrats to them!
Last but not least, we need to get some more love for the US Airways Grand Slam promo in the Freddies voting if it comes back this year. It only brought in 7th place for “Best Airline Promotion for Earning” for 2011. I think it certainly deserves to be much higher in the rankings as what other promo allows you to earn 100,000+ miles without even flying?!
11:00PM: After Party
After the ceremony officially concluded, swag bags were handed out, and after party immediately sprung back into action. I, however, immediately retreated to my room to share the stories of the night with you all and rest my voice. I have been sick off and on for what feels like an eternity, and can feel my voice already giving out. Hot tea from room service for me…..fingers crossed I don’t have to do my presentation Saturday in sign language (because, well, I only know about three words).
Midnight: Good night!
Well, for me anyway. I’m sure there are many attendees who will keep the party going strong well into the night. Congrats to the winners, this really is a big deal in the travel industry and I know they take this recognition seriously. Tomorrow brings us the Randy Peterson Executive Travel Summit, so more fun to come shortly!
To see more posts and pictures from the night, follow me on Twitter @Mommy_Points – lots of more fun stuff there!