Quick – can anyone name all of the hotel brands that are a part of Hilton? Without looking it up, that is?
There’s Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Hampton Inn & Suites, Homewood Suites, Home2 Suites by Hilton, and Hilton Grand Vacations.
The proliferation of brands certainly affects other chains too, I don’t think Hilton is actually the worst here, if I had asked the same question about Marriott, would you have included TownePlace Suites in your list?
But Hilton has different phone numbers for each. Or call Hilton directly and get a menu tree asking which one you want to make reservations at.
There has to be cost savings to better-integrating the brands. There has to be upside to just having fewer brands, there may be brand distinctions but consumers aren’t likely to understand those differences or how they relate to the overall Hilton family, emphasizing modest differentiation across brands has to undermine the value of the brand as a whole.
There have to be large numbers of hotel guests staying at a Homewood Suites and not even providing their HHonors number, not realizing it’s Hilton as opposed to, say, Priority club which has Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites.
Meanwhile, the Hilton HHonors website has to be the most frustrating to use of any of the major chains. I cannot manage to stay logged in throughout a session. I have to log in multiple times in order to make a reward booking. When I make a reservation, it isn’t immediately available online, in fact the website warns that it can take a couple of hours to show up. I find calling doesn’t produce much better results, even calling the Diamond line.
I tried to make a reward reservation over the weekend. I was about 9000 points short of what I needed, the website offered the reservation to me anyway while kicking in $264 cash.
- So I tried to buy the points. 10,000 points costs $100, which is oddly less than 9000 points costs. But the website kept producing errors when trying to complete that transaction.
- Not wanting to hassle further, I just transferred some points in from American Express Membership Rewards, it’s not a great deal but there’s a 20% reduction in Amex points cost for the transfer running so that helped. And the points post instantly.
- I went to my account and my balance was represented correctly, immediately. But when I went to book the hotel the website still insisted I needed to top off with a $264 co-pay since I didn’t have enough points.
- So I called. And after 15 minutes on the phone I was told that there was a system error, they couldn’t produce a reward certificate. So they made a paid stay and promised to convert it to points when I called back.
- I called back, I was told it was taken care of and was told the correct points price. I was told that a confirmation e-mail would be coming. But I checked my balance a few hours later and the points hadn’t been deducted. No e-mail either. I called back.
- Hilton HHonors told me nothing had been done to the previous reservation. They can’t convert a paid reservation to points. So they would have to make a new points reservation for me. That didn’t ring true, but I didn’t much care, I just wanted my award redemption! Only they spent 20 minutes, much of the time with me on hold, to tell me they had system errors and couldn’t complete the booking, I would have to call back.
- Call back? Really? I asked about them calling me back, I was told that wasn’t possible, I should just try them later tonight. Would I have to start from scratch with the story? Yes I was told that I would.
- This time I went to the website, and though I had to log in more than once during the reservation process I managed to make a points reservation successfully.
- But now I couldn’t cancel the original reservation online, it would no longer come up on the website, so I had to call again to cancel the original paid booking.
And it is finally complete. But that’s what it took, for an HHonors Diamond member, to make a single reward redemption. As I say, there has to be a profitable opportunity for Hilton to develop some better systems and processes. I’m usually skeptical about that sort of investment, it’s usually more expensive than you expect and promised economies rarely develop as promised. Here, I am not so skeptical!
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