It’s April, the Freddie Award Season
Later this month at the corporate headquarters of USA Today, the 25th annual Freddie Awards will be presented, honoring frequent travel programs voted as the best by frequent travelers from around the globe. I’ll be there, just as I was in 1988, when the idea of the Freddie Awards sprung from an answer to the question, “Who has the best frequent flyer program?”
In this instance, “frequent flyer” is a catchall term that includes hotel guest programs and the ever-popular affiliate partnerships travel loyalty programs have with credit cards. So as we count down to the end of voting on March 31, this Freddie Award season easily will be one for the record books with more than 2 million frequent flyers expected to vote (as of March 7 there were already 1.7 million voters).
With more travelers voting than ever before, it’s anyone’s guess which programs will take home a Freddie. Following the close of voting we will go through a series of vote audits just to ensure that the spammers or other types of vote disrupters are not part of the final tallies and then we’ll let the technology give us the results—which we’ll duly seal into the hermetically sealed envelope until the evening of April 25th.
There’s something else happening around the Freddie Awards that some of our readers might be interested in attending. Following the Freddie Awards on the morning of Friday April 26th at the Hilton Tysons Corner, is a charity event called the Travel Executive Summit. It’s a roundtable event featuring the newsmakers and topics of the day, this year featuring Bob Crandall, former CEO of American Airlines, and Jeff Robertson, VP of SkyMiles for Delta Air Lines. They will headline a panel titled, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” in which other executives from such programs as Amtrak and all the major car rental companies mash up a breezy discussion of what these programs look like today, and more importantly, tomorrow. This panel will be followed by what will likely be one of the more interesting panels ever, “Plastic Fantastic”—featuring executives from the various credit cards (American Express, Chase, Citi, Capital One, Barclays, Bank of America) who will chat about the sky high bonus offers from their cards, whether or not they will last and what’s new and better for the future for these very important partners to most travel loyalty programs. Just being able to hear Bob Crandall give his opinion on the American Airlines merger is worth the price of admission ($99, lunch included). So if you’re interested, visit http://freddieawards.com/summit.php
for more information and to sign up to attend.
It’s rare to see executives like this in a single room and even more rare for frequent flyers to be able to listen in and join in the discussion—one of the best parts of these panels is audience participation.
And now for something completely new.
One of the most popular shows on American TV is “Shark Tank”, where budding entrepreneurs pitch their ideas and products in front of a panel of investment experts. And these experts look to invest in these ideas … or not. I’d like to introduce the newest way in which we’re supporting the frequent flyer and the frequent flyer entrepreneur—Launchpoint. As a part of Milepoint.com, Launchpoint begins in late April at the next session of the Frequent Traveler University. Budding entrepreneurs with products and ideas for the road warrior/frequent flyer will be pitching to the 600+ frequent flyers attending this event. Each presenter gets three minutes to pitch their product to the audience, followed by three minutes of Q&A by a panel of BoardingArea bloggers and then the audience votes on which of the ideas they want to fund for success. The winner of this event and the first runner-up will advance to the final round in January where readers of InsideFlyer and all frequent flyers will choose the winner of a $50,000 cash grant to help them grow their business idea for frequent flyers. Yes, “Shark Tank” comes to the frequent flyer and you get to pick the winner. Referred to as “where frequent flyers get funded”, there will be three rounds of competition. The first round is in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, April 28th; the second round will be in Tampa at another Frequent Traveler University event on Saturday, Sept. 28th and another round of competition will be held before the end of the year. A beta of the idea was held at the Frequent Traveler University in Los Angeles last December and proved to be extremely popular. Not only will the winner walk away with a $50,000 cash grant with no strings attached, but they will also receive in-kind support from the industry. Delta and Southwest are providing airfare credit so the winner can pitch new clients, raise money and meet with potential partners. Other sponsors include Hilton and Hyatt. The hope is that these competitions will advance ideas for the road warrior/frequent flyer, and when that happens, we all win. Visit http://launchpoint.milepoint.com
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