What's in an Award?

Reading Matthew's posts about the Freddie awards got me thinking.  Today we have the Freddie's, Flyertalk awards and a host of travel magazine awards (including mass circulated (Conde Nast, Travel and Leisure, etc) as well as the ones we find in the clubs to read (Global Traveler, Business Traveler, etc).   From each of these awards, we're told that the readers or travelers voted on them, but how do we know?  A number of these voting processes can be circumvented via the manipulation of cookies or IP addresses.  So a given program can garner a number of illegal votes with minimal effort.   Furthermore, most, if not all of these, ceremonies have no formal auditing in place.  Award ceremonies such as the Oscars and Grammys have a very strict auditing process in which formal auditors are hired to make sure the results are accurate (the auditing company used is always listed in the credits).  

Furthermore, there is a much more sinister possibility, corruption.   With a flawed in the process, it's very easy to manipulate the results to what the organizers want.   I think back a few years to when the Frequent Traveler awards were occurring (prior to the return of the Freddies).  I don't remember which particular award, but there was an award being presented and as the slide appeared with the winner, one of the organizers spoke up and said it's actually incorrect and it should go to a different company.   It's completely possible it was an accident or it's possible that someone meant to change the actual result and didn't.  The way the situation was handled, I'm inclined to believe it wasn't an accident.  Either way, we'll never know as the data raw data is never released and there is no auditing in place.  But while the Frequent Traveler Awards have come and gone, most of the organizers are now responsible for the current day Freddie awards.  So while the particular ceremony no longer exists, the same people have moved onto a new ceremony, which leaves one to wonder about the accuracy of these ceremonies.

I've been fortunate to see some of the raw data from a nameless awards ceremony and it is evident that the true winners aren't always the winners.  

So, I ask, with a flawed voting process, lack of auditing and corruption, what is a travel award worth?  To me, nothing.  Over the years I've learned to give these awards very little credit as I've learned more and more about how they work.   Furthermore when you sit their wondering why a certain vendor won and listen to the explanation provided, they often don't line up to be truly accurate.


Fozz M May 18, 2013 at 09:51 am

It was pointed out to me that I had a typo when I stated "all" of the organizers have moved on, i have since changed this to "most".

@Rocky: I have no idea about the JD Power awards