Hilton Changing Award Categories of Several Hotels — And Why It Doesn’t Matter

After Hilton’s dramatic award chart gutting of nearly two years ago, there weren’t huge changes again this year.

And Hilton decided to change the way they made changes to how they re-assign hotels to award categories. Instead of an annual change to tons of hotels (a schedule they really weren’t wedded to in the past anyway) they decided they would make rolling changes throughout the year. And instead of informing all members proactively of these changes, they would just post them on a web page in the name of ‘transparency’.

At least they are announcing the changes. And savvy members could create a change detection for the page.

Hilton HHonors is making category adjustments to several hotels effective April 8

That said, this time they seem to have posted upcoming changes on Flyertalk but it was a couple of days later before they updated the page on the Hilton website where they promise to keep members informed of changes.

Ten properties get less expensive. Fourteen get more expensive. Overall a sliver of the overall HHonors portfolio. Although of course HHonors categories do not all have fixed award prices anyway so category changes aren’t the only way to increase reward night prices. And there are no announcements when hotels get more expensive within a category thus we really can’t say whether there have been big increases or not.

Hotels with Category Increase:

  1. Hilton Vienna Plaza (Vienna, Austria) Goes up from category 6 to: 7
  2. Hilton Garden Inn Glasgow City Centre (Glasgow, United Kingdom) Goes up from category 4 to 5
  3. Hilton Glasgow Hotel (Glasgow, United Kingdom) Goes up from category 5 to 6
  4. Hampton Inn & Suites Atlanta / Duluth (Duluth, Georgia) Goes up from category 2 to 3
  5. Hampton Inn Jacksonville-9A & Baymeadows (Jacksonville, Florida) Goes up from category 2 to 3
  6. Hampton Inn Bryant (Bryant, Arkansas) Goes up from category 2 to 3
  7. Hilton Garden Inn Richmond Airport (Sandston, Virginia) Goes up from category 3 to 4
  8. Hampton Inn & Suites Salt Lake City/Farmington (Farmington, Utah) Goes up from category 3 to 4
  9. Hampton Inn Morgan Hill (Morgan Hill, California) Goes up from category 4 to 5
  10. Hampton Inn Marquette Waterfront (Marquette, Michigan) Goes up from category 4 to 6
  11. Hilton Garden Inn San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge (Emeryville, California) Goes up from category 4 to 6
  12. Embassy Suites Santa Clara – Silicon Valley (Santa Clara, California) Goes up from category 5 to 6
  13. Hilton Santa Clara (Santa Clara, California) Goes up from category 6 to 7
  14. Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa (San Diego, California) Goes up from category 7 to 8

Hotels with Category Decrease:

  1. DoubleTree by Hiton Qingdao / Chengyang (Qingdao, China) Goes down from category 4 to 3.
  2. Hilton Mainz City (Mainz, Germany) Goes down from category 5 to 4.
  3. Doubletree by Hilton Resort Zanzibar – Nungwi (Zanzibar, Tanzania) Goes down from category 6 to 4.
  4. Doubletree by Hilton Kusadasi (Kusadasi, Turkey) Goes down from category 6 to 4.
  5. Hilton London Syon Park (London, United Kingdom) Goes down from category 9 to 7.
  6. Hampton Inn & Suites Center TX (Center, Texas) Goes down from category 4 to 3.
  7. Hilton Garden Inn Shreveport (Shreveport, Louisiana) Goes down from category 4 to 3.
  8. Hampton Inn Waldorf (Waldorf, Maryland) Goes down from category 4 to 3.
  9. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Virginia) Goes down from category 5 to 4.
  10. Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa (Henderson, Nevada) Goes down from category 6 to 5.

(HT: One Mile at a Time)

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. With the exception of their Cat. 1 and 2 properties, HHonors always feels too expensive compared to other hotel redemptions. Once in a while there’s a decent Cash and Points award, but they’re not terribly common. I can sometimes find the Cash and Points properties on priceline, where I typically get about the same price — without having to spend any points. HHonors is nice in that they generally honor my Gold benefits, even when booked on priceline.

    If HHonors would reduce the cost of their awards by about 25%, or periodically offer better redemptions, I would be so much more jazzed about their program. I would certainly use my AMEX HHonors card way more often. I do like getting free breakfast and lounge access at their full service hotels. It’s a weakness in Hyatt, SPG, and ClubCarlson programs.

  2. Well nuts, that Jacksonville Hampton Inn was Category 1 just last year. It makes for a convenient stopping point for folks driving to or from Miami. There are only two domestic Category 1 redemptions left, though quite a few more 2’s.

  3. @Gary sez: “After Hilton’s dramatic award chart gutting of nearly two years ago, there weren’t huge changes again this year.”

    …Except that pretty much every other program soon followed suit, and in the case of Hyatt GP, the award charts gutting was even worse than Hilton’s, but Hilton keeps catching the flak because they went first…

    Look at your own math comparing award costs per spend among the programs AFTER the purported devaluation, and then please stop using that lazy and tired line about how Hilton gutted the award charts. Hyatt’s gutting was worse!

  4. @DCS It defies credulity to claim that the Hyatt “award charts gutting was even worse than Hilton’s” — Hyatt was a 4% increase overall focused on top end hotels. Hilton’s increases at the top end hit 90%.

  5. @Gary – LOL. Only in the fuzzy math of the blogosphere would changing the top standard award rate from 22K to 30K per night or changing the policy of paying for upgrades from PER STAY to PER NIGHT be remotely equal to 4%. How about 27% and more than 300%, respectively?!

    BTW, Hilton’s purported “gutting” of their award charts also happened at very top, which included only about 4% of their 4K properties [I can provide the link to a Milepoint post where this was shown]. The problem with Hyatt doing the same thing at the top is that they are just 1/8th the size of Hilton!

    More to the point is that you did the math, but then decided not to discuss the results because they clearly contradicted the notion of Hilton “gutting” their award charts. I am sick of linking to my own results that debunked that canard, so I will link to the results of another blogger who did the math and found exactly what you found and I found ( http://travelcodex.com/2014/03/much-cost-earn-free-night/ ) and concluded:

    “From this first figure, we can see what I’ve shown before, that Hyatt, Hilton, and Marriott all have award charts that are similarly priced. The fact that Hilton may sometimes charge up to 95,000 points for an award night is compensated for the fact that it can offer 15 points per dollar, while Hyatt offers only 5 points per dollar. Starwood, however, has some incredibly high-priced awards among its top tiers, while IHG Rewards and Club Carlson may offer significant value even after Club Carlson’s recent devaluation.”

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