A First Shot Running the Numbers on the Hilton HHonors Devaluation

Loyalty Traveler runs down the changes in hotel categories for Hilton HHonors and concludes that it represents a 19.3% increase in the average points cost of a room night.

He crunches the numbers for US Hilton properties and finds the following category comparison between 2009 and 2010:

Category 2009 2010
Opportunity 37 n/a
Category 1 150 39
Category 2 1124 117
Category 3 1143 1334
Category 4 459 1109
Category 5 139 347
Category 6 57 121
Category 7 n/a 65

To a first approximation, just eye-balling, it does look like Hilton did mostly what was execpted: drop the opportunity level, add a new category 7, and shift most properties up a level.

There remain 7 active categories, and each category has a similar number of properties in it.

Category 2009 2010
Bottom 37 39
1 From Bottom 150 117
2 From Bottom 1124 1334
3 From Bottom 1143 1109
4 From Bottom 459 347
5 From Bottom 139 121
6 From Bottom 57 65

What they’ve done in the limit is increase each hotel by a category level in price.  Some properties have jumped two properties.  Loyalty Traveler notes that one single property in California dropped a category.  And there’s little relation to hotel price it seems, plenty of regularly available $99 properties in San Francisco are at the top award price level.

It’s really quite bloody, and wholly unreasonable after a year of truly historic drops in hotel occupancy and average room rates.  And I’m glad I burned my full HHonors balance the day before the devaluation.

Even though I have Diamond status (through credit card spend), HHonors is one of my least favorite hotel loyalty programs.  They don’t match their peers in redemption value.  And their elite benefits are paltry.  Like Marriott they don’t offer suites as a program benefit to top tier members.  Starwood and Intercontinental sure do, and so does Hyatt.  All Diamond members really get is club lounge access, only Intercontinental doesn’t guarantee this.

HHonors Diamond is more valuable than Priority Club Platinum status is at Holiday Inn properties.  But if that’s your benchmark, then it’s rather damning with faint praise…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Their program is incredibly frustrating. And so are their delays. I had gold status coming to me, but they dragged their feet, so I couldn’t take advantage of it at a recent hotel stay,. It’s still not credited 😐

    so if you were me and had about 80k miles hanging around in your hhonors account after this horrific devaluation, would you cash them in for airline miles?

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