Hilton’s Minor Hotel Category Adjustments

I received an email this morning from Mark Weinstein, the Vice President of HHonors and Partnerships at Hilton, which in part read as follows (bolding is mine):

I wanted to personally let you know we are updating a few hotels’ reward categories as part of our periodic review process and, even more specifically, share with you that this year we will not be making any major reward category changes or introducing new hotel reward categories. We are taking steps to be even more transparent by better communicating adjustments within the reward categories directly to members and advocates like yourself.

Effective April 15, 2014, 25 of our hotels and resorts (0.6% of our properties) will be increasing hotel category, and 14 of our hotels and resorts (0.3% of our properties) will be decreasing hotel category. We’ve made these modifications based on periodic reviews of our hotel reward categories as new hotels join the program and market dynamics change. The Hilton HHonors Standard Room Rewards Point Pricing Tool will reflect these changes as of April 15.

In addition, we will be shifting away from the cycle of annual reward category announcements. I believe that through transparency in our communications, we can develop a greater level of trust, which is critical to a healthy relationship with our members. To that end, we want to give members full visibility into any hotel category adjustments – including the introduction of new redemption hotels – so we will be sharing an updated list of adjusted hotels on HHonors.com on a periodic basis. HHonors members will be able to see which hotels are changing categories, as well as the category assignments for new hotels. This list, the Standard Room Rewards Update, can be found on the HHonors.com Using Points page under Standard Room Hotel Categories.

As many of you may remember, Hilton sort of gutted their award chart last year, by adding award categories and introducing seasonal pricing. Ultimately the change in redemption costs very much reflected the costs incurred by HHonors for award redemptions — high end properties went WAY up in price, while lower end properties mostly stayed the same and in some cases even went down in price. Of course this was incredibly frustrating for those of us that redeemed points for “aspirational” properties. In fairness, they did provide plenty of advance notice of the changes, so we weren’t blindsighted by them.

So I’m not surprised to see that they’re not making any major changes this year.

More importantly, though, I love Mark’s email and his approach. He’s outright saying they won’t be making any major reward category changes or introducing new hotel categories for the rest of the year. It’s rare you get an “absolute” out of an executive at a loyalty program, so I love that.

And the timing on this email is kind of funny, one day after the “new” American broke the trust of AAdvantage and Dividend Miles members, not just by making major changes without any notice, but by communicating them in a dishonest way.

I continue to use Hilton as my “backup” hotel chain. While I’m primarily loyal to Hyatt and Starwood, Hilton has a much more extensive hotel portfolio. If they had more of an official stance on suite upgrades I might even make them a primary chain long term.

Regardless, after yesterday’s communication I kind of found the email (and idea behind it) refreshing.

Comments

  1. Hilton is dead……burn your points and use your revenue on Hyatt or Starwood or even Relais and Chateau (assuming you like Europe)……….

  2. Lucky you’re misreading the email. He just said category chances will come whenever they please as opposed to once a year!!

  3. @ Scott @ Varun — “I wanted to personally let you know we are updating a few hotels’ reward categories as part of our periodic review process and, even more specifically, share with you that this year we will not be making any major reward category changes or introducing new hotel reward categories.”

    What am I missing? Seems clear, no?

  4. I think their concern is this: “– so we will be sharing an updated list of adjusted hotels on HHonors.com on a periodic basis.”

    It does make you wonder if their not having an annual announcement of category changes simply means that they want to be able to adjust things as often as they please and without a formal announcement.

  5. “…on a periodic basis.”
    That’s a red flag. I interpret that as : whenever we feel like it.
    Lucky, the AA/US Air overnight deval has set a precedent. That is what we’re faced with.

  6. what Hilton is saying is that they’re not planning to announce changes anymore- instead a quick update of that website so there will be little/no forewarning. That way, members can’t have notice and book a lot of stays at old rates between announcement and implementation as in the past.

    They are also showing us that, at best, we can expect 6 days between a property popping up on the list and category change (today is 4.9, cat change is in 6 days: 4.15).

    personally, i’d rather know once a year than refresh a webpage 365 days/year to find out i have 6 days (or none, who knows) until a hotel changes 1 or 2 categories out of the blue.

  7. I have just a few HHonors points left, which I was going to use for hotel in Barcelona this summer. That hotel is dropping 2 categories on April 15, so that’s fortunate.

  8. Hmm… I agree with others. I don’t think this email is as nice as you think:

    (1) there may me MINOR reward category changes this year;

    (2) they can change hotel categories at any time AND they will no longer notify before changing hotel categories — we have to proactively keep an eye on their site.

  9. I’m yet to ever receive any emails from Hilton telling me about changes (this is despite being all booking confirmations OK and having preferences set to send all mail) – I wish they’d sort out their IT.

  10. All their Barcelona hotels are dropping category about 2 weeks before I get there. I have a points and cash rez. Might have to cancel and rebook.

  11. Ben,

    Have to agree with the other commenters on the probable intent being category changes at irregular intervals instead of once a year. Makes it harder to follow than a once a year change that allows for identifying sweet spots. In addition, there is also the issue of the huge spread of 30k points within a reward category, which allows for stealth devaluations with no need to even announce as a category change.

    Hilton’s whole approach seems to be to squeeze out any redemptions that are high value on a cents per point basis. Can’t blame them for trying to do so, because Starwood and Hyatt are the only other brands with truly aspirational properties, and Starwood is equally or more expensive at high end redemptions and Hyatt is extremely limited in its locations.

  12. And Hyatt and Starwood 1&2 is a no brainer……Hilton has become so bad they make the Ritz Carlton credit card look honest…………

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