Loyalty programs

ALONGSIDE being creatures of habit, humans also love getting free stuff.

This bodes well for airlines and hotels trying to retain customers through loyalty programs.

Loyalty programs tap into the “science of free” that humans are inclined towards and seek to reward customers for continually using the same brand.


These Asian airports are becoming destinations in their own right

Some loyalty programs really are a cut above the rest. So much so, there is an Oscars-esque award ceremony recognizing the world’s best loyalty programs in the travel industry.

The Freddie Awards have been running since 1988 and is recognized as the world’s most prestigious member-generated awards within the travel-loyalty sector.

The ceremony was created for frequent travelers to have their opinions heard and this year, 4.4 million people cast votes for their favorite airline, hotel, and credit card loyalty schemes across the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia/Oceania.


Virgin Australia’s Velocity program dominated the airline category in the Middle East and Asia/Oceania category.

Taking home the award in categories including “Program of the Year,” “Best Elite Program,” “Best Customer Service” and “Best Redemption Ability.”

What’s your favourite window seat view? pic.twitter.com/x3UcnV0aLn

— Virgin Australia (@VirginAustralia) April 29, 2018

Virgin Australia only missed out on “Best Promotion” to Emirates Skywards and Saudia Alfursan which won the prestigious “210 AWARD” given to programs trending among travelers.


The Freddie Awards named IHG Rewards Club “Program of the Year” and “Best Promotion” in the hotel category for the Middle East and Asia/Oceania region.

Accor Hotel’s Le Club Accorhotels program grabbed the awards for “Best Customer Service” and “Best Redemption Ability” while Starwood Preferred Guest took the gong for “Best Elite Program” and Taj Innercircle won the “210 AWARD”.

What can these programs offer frequent travelers?

Virgin Australia’s Velocity program, for example, has grown its members to seven million users in just 12 years.

Customers can earn points flying with any of its partner airlines including Delta, Etihad, Air New Zealand and Hainan Airline.

Buying gas from BP, staying in selected hotels, subscribing to wine deliveries from Liathwaite’s and Virgin Wines, and many other ways can earn frequent flyers points.

When it comes to redeeming these points, members of the program needn’t worry about having 100 percent of the points as Virgin Australia’s Velocity program offer “Points and Pay” for more flexibility.

As for the Starwood Preferred Guest program, winner of the “Best Elite Program”, loyal patrons of the hotel can make their way up the points tier with every luxury stay.

A post shared by Starwood Preferred Guest (@spg) on

Offering Gold, Platinum, 50-night Platinum, 75-night Platinum, and 100-night Platinum reward levels, guests can claim anything from late checkouts to gifts on arrival and room upgrades to ambassador access who will take care of organizing every aspect of your stay.

Rewards programs are a revelation to many travelers. They can be the difference between staying in bargain lodgings or ultimate luxury for the same price, or getting that much-needed upgrade on your long-haul flight.

Here are all the winners across every region.

Middle East & Asia/Oceania


  • Best Promotion: Emirates Skywards – 50 percent off first class upgrades
  • Best Redemption Ability: Virgin Australia – Velocity Frequent Flyer
  • Best Customer Service: Virgin Australia – Velocity Frequent Flyer
  • Best Elite Program: Virgin Australia – Velocity Frequent Flyer
  • Program of the Year: Virgin Australia – Velocity Frequent Flyer
  • 210 Award: Saudia Alfursan


  • Best Promotion: IHG Rewards Club – Accelerate
  • Best Redemption Ability: Le Club Accor Hotels
  • Best Customer Service: Le Club Accor Hotels
  • Best Elite Program: Starwood Preferred Guest
  • Program of the Year: IHG Rewards Club
  • 210 Award: TAJ Innercircle

Credit Card

  • Best Loyalty Credit Card: ADCB Etihad Guest Above Visa Card



  • Best Promotion: Southwest Rapid Rewards – Unbelievable Companion Pass Offer
  • Best Redemption Ability: Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • Best Customer Service: Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • Best Elite Program: American Airlines – Advantage
  • Program of the Year: Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • 210 Award: Avianca Lifemiles


  • Best Promotion: MGM – M life Rewards – Holiday Gift Shoppe
  • Best Redemption Ability: Marriott Rewards
  • Best Customer Service: Marriott Rewards
  • Best Elite Program: Marriott Rewards
  • Program of the Year: Marriott Rewards
  • 210 Award: MGM – M life reward

Credit Card

  • Best Loyalty Credit Card – Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card



  • Best Promotion: Norwegian Reward – Christmas Advent Calendar
  • Best Redemption Ability: Aeroflot Bonus
  • Best Customer Service: Aeroflot Bonus
  • Best Elite Program: Aeroflot Bonus
  • Program of the Year: Norwegian Air – Norwegian Reward
  • 210 Award: Aeroflot Bonus


  • Best Promotion: Le Club Accor Hotels – Activation Booster
  • Best Redemption Ability: Le Club Accor Hotels
  • Best Customer Service: Le Club Accor Hotels
  • Best Elite Program: Marriott Rewards
  • Program of the Year: Le Club Accor Hotels
  • 210 Award: IHG Reward Club

Credit Card

  • Best Loyalty Credit Card: American Express – Membership Rewards

The post The best travel loyalty programs in Asia appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

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