Leak: New Hilton Elite Food And Beverage Details, Including Benefit Amounts

Hilton announced a new food and beverage benefit that replaces breakfast at U.S. hotels starting in July and running through the end of 2021. They will offer a food and beverage credit for use any time at the hotel, including in-restaurant, for grab and go, or for room service.

That sounds great in theory – you can take your meal as it’s most convenient to you. I actually love the concept and suggested it myself to the head of Hilton’s loyalty efforts years ago.

However the devil is in the detail of how much that credit is for. I suspected it would be for far less than breakfast actually costs in many locations. Hilton’s announcement of the benefit without the detail on amount – when they clearly knew the amount – is itself a strong giveaway.

According to an email reportedly sent to hotels and posted to Reddit (HT: Doctor of Credit),

The credit can be utilized at all participating F&B outlets on-property including the market and room service. Members will be instructed to charge all F&B purchases to their folio. Credits will be provided daily to Gold and -Diamond members and up to one guest registered to the room.

Gold members will have the option to either receive points or the F&B credit, while Diamond members will receive both points and the credit. -Credits do not accrue or rollover if unused. If they are used, it will be processed through manual folio adjustments by the night audit.

The credit amounts are as follows: Luxury $25, Full Service $12 (or $15 in high-cost markets), Lifestyle $12 (or $15 in high-cost markets) and Hilton Garden Inn $10.

You’re not going to cover breakfast at a full service hotel in New York for $15.

This benefit is still positive for those who wouldn’t eat breakfast on-property, or those who aren’t keep on what passes for elite breakfast at some hotels these days due to cost-cutting in the name of covid (that brown paper bag grab & go).

However anyone who values breakfast as a status benefit at U.S. Hilton properties is likely to be disappointing for the back half of 2021. We’ll see whether or not this test gets extended.

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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Comments

  1. Disappointed! For me this will change my Hilton behavior, just as it changed my Marriott behavior when they eliminated breakfast for Golds (I’m Gold at both chains via my Amex Platinum.). Quite often it is cheaper to book Hilton (or Marriott) through Expedia than as an elite through the hotel chain’s own website. That’s going to happen more and more for me. If they are not loyal to me, I won’t be loyal to them.

  2. @ Gaey — This is ridiculous. Shame on Hilton. They certainly won’t be garnering any of my business beyond the Aspire card freebies.

  3. Agree with Don in ATL as well. While the terms are always slightly different when booking through Expedia, Hotels.com, etc versus the Hilton website such as Hilton advertising 11:59 PM cancellation while hotels.com advertising 10:59 pm cancellation so that Hilton doesn’t have to honor its price match guarantee I will likely book more through Hotels.com or my local travel agent who has access to those similar rates or better.

    Or just as likely, I will once again go back to being a free agent and finding the hotel that best meets my needs and provides the best value. Currently Hilton and Marriott often are higher then other comparable hotels by anywhere from $5 to $20 per night or more but I usually book them for my elite benefits and points including breakfast because I value breakfast at about $5 – $10 per day per person. However, with this change, since the credits don’t rollover on a longer stay, and are about $12 per day per room and not per person if I am understanding this correctly I can definitely have a nice breakfast outside the hotel for a far lower cost. Most hotels I visit where local breakfast can be had for $10 – $15 per person are charging anywhere from $20 to $40 per person at the hotel. All these vouchers do is bring the price closer to eating outside while I then am paying a higher room rate.

    Sounds like either a consulting firm was hired that worked with Marriott or a Marriott employee was hired to design and implement this change.

  4. This pretty much put a full-service Hiltons on the ‘no stay’ list when other functional options exist— including limited service properties. I predict the feedback on this change from the properties/owners will be overwhelming positive resulting in this change being made permanent. How long before others follow??

  5. Thanks for the leak. Was going to go for diamond but I’ll stop right before I hit it up keep the rollover nights and start staying with Marriott. They have more properties so it’s easier to book than Hilton.

    For $10-12 I’d rather just find the cheapest rates and go buy my own breakfast.

    Hotel status is pretty useless these days with lounges closed.

  6. There should be a massive uproar about this along with consumer protection complaints. Hilton advertised free breakfast and with almost no notice eliminated this benefit. $12 or $15 not only won’t cover breakfast in New York City, but good luck getting a real breakfast with coffee, juice, tip and tax for $12 or $15 in Wichita, let alone Honolulu. This is one of the worst changes in loyalty program elite status benefits that I’ve ever seen, not least because it’s taking effect literally overnight and isn’t even program-wide, just USA.

  7. My God! Is consuming more calories that important to you people. I never understood the fascination with the breakfast benefit. Many nutritionists suggest breakfast isn’t needed (the old “most important meal of the day” was a marketing slogan, not based on science).

    Have a cup of coffee and maybe a piece of fruit then wait for lunch. No wonder Americans are so fat!

    I’m Diamond and LOVE the flexibility this gives me.

  8. What’s really bad about this is that many Hilton properties are managed by franchisees or third-party management companies. Hilton manages a larger share of its full-service properties than Marriott, but the franchisees and third-party management often operate hotels under Hilton’s competitors.

    I’ve long said this is the problem with Marriott. Some of Marriott’s worst properties are the ones managed by operators who handle dozens of brands. Aimbridge is probably the worst owner and operator. I’ve never stayed at a good Aimbridge property. They are notorious for skimping on guaranteed benefits and reducing physical property maintenance costs to maximize profit. They don’t care or don’t pay attention to the rules and program benefits.

    If an operator for Hilton sees this change as positive you can be damn sure they will unilaterally apply it to their properties under Marriott flags, unless or until Marriott says no. There were already dozens of Marriott properties providing vouchers for breakfast that didn’t cover the cost of anything on the breakfast menu.

  9. What about Hilton Resorts, specifically with lounges? They typically charge ~$25pp for breakfast for non-elites.

  10. $12-15 at full service? A fruit bowl costs $15-20 in many large cities. Clearly cost cutting. I bet also revenue generating as taxes take 8-9% right off of that. And tipping.

  11. Ugh, I hate this change. That will barely buy toast and coffee at most hotels. Contact Hilton if you don’t like the change and let them know. I know my little note will not change minds but I look at it as silence is acceptance and I can also choose to go with another chain.

  12. Pathetic – At many Waldorf properties breakfast is easily over $50 per person with some properties being well north of $100.

    And I believe the credit is per room not per person so this is even worse.

  13. Sorry it’s per person not per room. My argument still stands – this is a major benefit cut and does not cover breakfast at most major full service hotels.

  14. Why would they screw up one of their best benefits??? Wouldn’t it have been better to allow a choice of free breakfast or a credit for those who chose not to have breakfast?
    The dollar amount offered is too low to account for breakfast expenses in most markets.
    This is a boost for other hotel chains offering free breakfast.

  15. This is one time when I’m happy to be travelling in the UK and not the US. For us, a guaranteed, decent breakfast is part of the reason why I would be prioritising Hilton stays this year as a Diamond. If this made it over to the UK / Europe, I would be sure to be taking my business elsewhere.

    For those of you who are about to be exposed to this, I hope you let Hilton know clearly if you are disappointed by this. Will barely cover a coffee at some properties.

  16. Well this is horrible.

    $10 at a HGI? That might buy a bowl of oatmeal. The HGI I used to stay at in DC pre-pandemic gave a $15 voucher for the in-house restaurant – and that didn’t cover most breakfast items.

    And then there’s this: ” If they are used, it will be processed through manual folio adjustments by the night audit.” So now I have to audit my own bill even more thoroughly when I check out AND this will complicate my expense reporting as I have to show per meal costs with receipts. A an after the fact -$X adjustment to the folio is pain-in-the-rear. Why can’t this be a voucher/benefit that is processed at the time of meal purchase rather than an after the fact manual adjustment by the night clerk?

  17. This is a book away from Hilton change.
    If you give me a choice of breakfast OR credit then that’s actually beneficial.
    This is just another devaluation.

  18. I’m not a breakfast eater, so I love the thought of a F&B credit … but switching from full breakfast for 2 to a F&B credit of $25 is obviously a major negative for most travellers. I suspect that Hilton is trialing this by leaking the details so they can watch the reaction. The past year has been horrendous for travel providers, and Hilton’s first priority should rightfully be the bottom line. The change would certainly enhance profits at each property, and that’s a positive. We need to keep hospitality people gainfully employed. This concept is a tough one for people who haven’t owned and operated a business … but it’s just simple reality.

    I don’t know what percentage of HH Diamonds make up the mix, but we do generate thousands in annual revenue. They could certainly think about enhancing the benes for us. Just give the Diamonds F&B credit of $50 a day, depending on the market. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as the world comes back to life.

  19. @ Paul ” If you give me a choice of breakfast OR credit then that’s actually beneficial.” Exactly!
    Everyone needs to complain to Hilton Honors HQ and all the executives about this one….not good.

  20. This was actually one of the reasons I currently have 3 AmEx Hilton cards (1 business and 2 personal).

    Hilton is likely to lose more than just my point redemptions. I hope they see the correlation in their numbers when that sweet CC cash flow dips.

  21. @Gary I don’t think it’s per-person, unless I’m misreading? “up to one guest registered to the room”

  22. @Kevin,

    Note the “and” in

    “Credits will be provided daily to Gold and -Diamond members *and* up to one guest registered to the room. ”

    So, it’s the member *and* another person = 2.

    So, while this is not great, the title does indicate that this is just through the end of 2021, and not a permanent change….so far 🙂

    Cheers.

  23. Will I be able to apply my unused breakfast credit to a drink on my way back to my room at night?

  24. As a european citizen travelling in Europe, Asia & USA, I find this VERY disappointing! Elite guests recognition in the US wasn’t great (not many upgrades, poor food in the morning at some locations, EL less and less available) but now I consider it will be awful. We have a travel across California due to happen in July; this is just bad news for us. I’m Diamond (with spendings, not with credit card) and breakfast, as we travel only for leisure, is THE perk we like when we stay at a hotel!
    Happily, it will continue to be served (generously) in Europe and Asia… let’s hope so

  25. Well, that makes two decisions easy for me: No need to pay the high fee for my Aspire Amex next year and it’s much better to use my marriott plat status than my hilton diamond. Without the breakfast beni, I really don’t see a lot of value.

  26. Dear Hilton,

    I was about to get your new “golly gee whiz” offers for the Hilton/Amex Surpass card, precisely to get the “gold status,” with the free breakfasts….. You just killed any interest in that card whatsoever.

    ps, next time the famous author of this post suggests any bright ideas like this to the head of your loyalty program, make sure you run the other direction. It’s not just that the devil was in the details, the devil himself invented the whole disastrous idea. Nothing whatsoever to “love” about it. 😉

  27. When I spoke to Hilton today (because of an upcoming stay) they told me we get to choose between breakfast or the F&B credit giving people more choices.

  28. When the CEO of Hilton already came out on record saying that they will come out of the pandemic more profitable than ever, I guess nobody should be surprised that Hilton’s gonna cut the breakfast benefits

  29. As someone who can’t eat gluten, I enjoy a full breakfast because there is always something I can eat. I can’t eat granola, processed breakfast sandwiches, muffins, croissants, etc., and even if I could I wouldn’t due to the lack of nutritional value. For me, this is a devaluation.

  30. We’re at the Hilton Curio in Memphis as diamond members. Just used it this morning for bfast. $25.00 per room (two of us). They didn’t charge for juice, maybe they forgot but the bill was $25.00 exactly without the juice. We’ll have to wait and see tommorrow.

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