Hilton Changing Reward Categories of Some Hotels July 8, and It’s 9-1 Increases

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

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 July 8

Eighteen get more expensive. Overall a sliver of the overall HHonors portfolio (although when you make these changes several times a year it’s easy to make any given cohort of changes seem small).

For good measure, two hotels are dropping in category.

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.

Lucky suggests this makes sense. Back in April I walked out of a meeting with Hilton’s Mark Weinstein right as he was walking in. And the insight he gleaned from the conversation was Mark’s comment that, “paid room rates vary night to night, so why shouldn’t the points rates reflect that?”

In other words, Hilton’s awards are like Delta’s. Just as HHonors premium room awards are based on the actual paid rate at the hotel for the room type booked on a given night, that’s the direction they’ve gone with their award nights as well.

What this means, of course, is that you don’t get outsized value from your points. While hotel programs are somewhat revenue-based generally (reward categories based on the average cost of a room redemption) you can do very well by this — pay cash when rates are cheap, redeem points on nights that hotels are expensive. But Hilton prices many of their awards so you can’t do that, since they vary the points price along with a hotel’s prevailing rate.

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. The upside to Hilton’s program is the ease of earning points. With the stacked promotions right now I’m earning 10,000+ points/night at relatively inexpensive hotels.

  2. @Doug – the haters are going to pile on, but I’ve long been in this school of thought. About to do a stay tonight where I’ll earn 65 points on the dollar; at the 0.4 cent valuation that is still equivalent to 25% back…not bad in my book. Hyatt is fancy and treats their elites like royalty, but Hilton points sure are easy to earn!

  3. Agree with @Doug. I think also we sometimes lose sight of why some of us use hotels in the first place, to get a nights sleep in a city or town that is too far to get back home. I much prefer my own bed. I use Hilton as I am Diamond, like a comfy bed, know the standard i will be getting, and in the main, great service. Also, personally, the upgrades are great, e.g I am currently in a huge King Deluxe suite in the Conrad, Dubai having booked, as always, the cheapest room. My UG’s in 2015 are running around 80%.
    Points are a side benefit and not the raisin d’être – although I do sign up from promos and look to max my points.

  4. As usual, @Gary took the opportunity of a change at HHonors the should simply generate a collective yawn to be ridiculously negative about the program.

    The reality: Hilton HHonnors is currently running multiple stackable promotions that are not close to being matched by any other program, and Hilton Worldwide is right now the fastest growing hospitality company out there. But @Gary has to dredge up the never-dying specter of the mythical Hilton “devaluation” of 2013:

    “After Hilton’s dramatic award chart gutting of nearly two years ago, there weren’t huge changes again this year. Hilton decided to change the way they made changes to how they re-assign hotels to award categories. ”

    Has the “Thought Leader in Travel” ever wondered why after their purportedly “dramatic award chart gutting of nearly two years ago” Hilton’s top-tier awards cost the same as or just a little less than Hyatt’s or Marriott’s, and are almost an order of magnitude cheaper than SPG’s; and their lower-tier awards are among the cheapest in the business? I will tell you, Oh “Thought Leader in Travel”. It simply means that before their purported “devaluation”, Hilton awards got so ridiculously cheap they could no longer compete!!! Their “devaluation” not only brought their awards to par with the competition, but it seems to have done wonders for the program, which it seems to have revived — rather than “kill” as the bloggers had predicted — to where HHonors is right now the most vibrant hotel loyalty program out there — Exhibit A: the multiple stackable promos and more… 😉

  5. The upside of HHonors is program maturity, stability and consistency, which contribute to make it highly rewarding for almost everyone who does not listen to travel bloggers…

  6. I just did 4 nights at the Conrad Bali. 3 free for 33,000 points per night. 1 night for $132++. For this stay, 1 night room rate and the meals, I earned almost 27,000. That is almost enough for another night at 33,000 points. I do not know why the bloggers keep knocking down Hilton HHonors because there are definitely sweet spots with this program.

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