Several years ago Hilton told us that they thought their program was too valuable, that it didn’t get them anything to be that way, and it’s far better to keep customers on a treadmill having to earn more points. This by the way was still during the Great Recession.
So it should come as no surprise that Hilton is the hotel program that devalued the most in 2013 — and that was after a fall 2009 that a competitor called the most drastic program devaluation in 17 years.
Now, in the name of transparency, they just post hotel redemption category changes to a web page throughout the year instead of actually informing members of changes.
With that in mind, Barbara DeLollis interviews Mark Weinstein of Hilton HiHonors, he’s the Vice President who reports up to Jeff Diskin.
He tells her that Hilton HHonors is up to 41 million members (American Airlines, before merging with US Airways to create the world’s largest loyalty program with in excess of 100 million members, had about 74 million).
And most importantly? When Hilton HHonors raises award redemption prices, members just pay more instead of seeking value.
“When members want to go on vacation, they figure out a destination and then figure out how to pay for it,” he said. “Most members who want to go to Orlando, for instance, make the decision to go and then figure out how to use points. They don’t make decisions based on points themselves.”
I don’t know if that’s true, but I believe that Weinstein and Hilton HHonors believe it’s true. And that shouldn’t make you feel confident in the remaining value of Hilton HHonors points.
Personally I had been confident, perhaps overconfident, thinking that they simply couldn’t have much farther to devalue. But the mindset reflected by that statement gives me pause. I do not have intel on their plans, but I don’t like the way they think.