Quarterly Hilton HHonors Hotel Category Changes

A few months ago I received an email from Mark Weinstein, the Vice President of HHonors and Partnerships at Hilton, announcing some slight changes to hotel categories, along with some insight into how the program would be handling category changes going forward (emphasis mine):

…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…

In looking at the calendar, that email came right at the beginning of the second quarter, and about a week prior to the effective date of the last round of category changes.

It appears that in moving away from annual category announcements Hilton has decided to make quarterly changes, and posted updated charts to the Hilton HHonors site earlier today.

It appears as if these changes will apply for bookings made beginning next Wednesday, July 9, 2014, which means you have less than a week to make bookings at the current rate.

24 hotels will be moving to a higher category:

HOTELS WITH CATEGORY INCREASE

Hotel Name
City
Country
Previous Reward Category
New Reward Category
Effective Date
Hampton Bakersfield Central Bakersfield CA US 2 3 July 9, 2014
DoubleTree Itasca/ Elk Grove Village Wood Dale IL US 2 3 July 9, 2014
Hampton Inn & Suites West Point West Point MS US 2 3 July 9, 2014
Hampton Inn Plano Plano TX US 2 3 July 9, 2014
Hampton Inn Killen Killeen TX US 2 3 July 9, 2014
Hampton Inn Chesterfield Chesterfield MO US 2 3 July 9, 2014
Hilton Houston Southwest Houston TX US 3 4 July 9, 2014
Home2 Suites by Hilton Nashville Vanderbilt Nashville TN US 4 5 July 9, 2014
Hilton Garden Inn Lake Buena Vista/Orlando Orlando FL US 4 5 July 9, 2014
Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta Midtown Atlanta GA US 4 5 July 9, 2014
Homewood Suites by Hilton Atlanta Midtown Atlanta GA US 4 5 July 9, 2014
Hilton Garden Inn Lincoln Downtown/Haymarket Lincoln NE US 4 5 July 9, 2014
Embassy Suites Anaheim-Orange Orange CA US 4 5 July 9, 2014
Hampton Inn & Suites Nashville-Vanderbilt-Elliston Nashville TN US 5 6 July 9, 2014
Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Lake Buena Vista FL US 5 6 July 9, 2014
DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Orlando – Lake Buena Vista Orlando FL US 5 6 July 9, 2014
Homewood Suites by Hilton New Orleans New Orleans LA US 5 6 July 9, 2014
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Nashville Downtown Nashville TN US 6 7 July 9, 2014
Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach – a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Fort Lauderdale FL US 5 7 July 9, 2014
Homewood Suites Nashville Downtown Nashville TN US 6 7 July 9, 2014
Hampton Inn & Suites Lake Placid Lake Placid NY US 5 7 July 9, 2014
DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Grand – Key West Key West FL US 6 8 July 9, 2014
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Breckenridge Breckenridge CO US 6 8 July 9, 2014
Embassy Suites Napa Valley Napa CA US 7 8 July 9, 2014

Doubletree Key West
The DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Grand in Key West will move from a Category 6 to Category 8

Meanwhile, 15 hotels will be moving to a lower category:

HOTELS WITH CATEGORY DECREASE

Hotel Name
City
Country
Previous Reward Category
New Reward Category
Effective Date
Hilton Surfers Paradise Gold Coast Australia 8 7 July 9, 2014
Conrad Beijing Beijing China 8 7 July 9, 2014
Fiji Beach Resort Nadi Fiji 8 7 July 9, 2014
Waldorf Astoria Panama Panama City Panama 6 5 July 9, 2014
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando Airport Orlando FL US 4 3 July 9, 2014
DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Omaha Omaha NE US 6 4 July 9, 2014
Hampton Inn Greenfield Greenfield IN US 6 4 July 9, 2014
Hampton Inn Indianapolis/Fishers Fishers IN US 6 4 July 9, 2014
Homewood Suites by Hilton Springfield Springfield VA US 6 5 July 9, 2014
Hampton Inn Akron-Fairlawn Akron OH US 6 5 July 9, 2014
Embassy Suites Syracuse East Syracuse NY US 6 5 July 9, 2014
Hampton Inn Columbia-Downtown Columbia SC US 7 6 July 9, 2014
Hilton Columbia Center Columbia SC US 7 6 July 9, 2014
Hampton Inn Glenwood Springs Glenwood Springs CO US 7 6 July 9, 2014
Capital Hilton Washington DC US 8 7 July 9, 2014

Ultimately these are minor changes, and I don’t have any issues with the increases or decreases themselves.

What is irritating, however, is making these changes under the pretext of being more transparent. This wasn’t announced via any of the Hilton or Hilton HHonors social media channels, nor have members been notified via email — or at least I haven’t. So I’m puzzled as to how this approach builds trust and loyalty, as changing rates with a few days notice seems a bit sleazy, particularly if this is now going to happen quarterly.

What do you think?

(Tip of the hat to Loyalty Lobby)

Comments

  1. Interesting the Waldorf Astoria in Panama is only a category 5 now – I believe it’s brand new. Kind of funny that random Hampton Inns are category 7 and a beautiful place like that Waldorf Astoria is a 5.

  2. This is the worst one yet for me!! The only 4 Hilton hotel I stay at are all going up. With two of them going up 2 categories. I am so sad now 🙁

  3. When the Homewood Suites Nashville and the Beijing Conrad are in the same category, we clearly have a problem.

  4. I would say the reason they do this is so they can stealth devalue rather than create an abrupt painful experience like they did last March. The less media exposure the better. What we will want to do is be sure to track these changes and notice the gradual creep up the category table that is inevitable. I would only accumulate these points with a specific target in mind, Hilton has burned us more than once.

  5. 70K points for Breckenridge Doubletree. Have you seen that place, it’s not terrible for what it is, an older ski-lodge style building, however I would only consider it a small step up from a Holiday Inn. A Cat 8 – seriously?

  6. Well, the DT in Key West just dropped off my consideration list. I will be staying at the (much nicer) Hyatt there in February.

  7. Hilton Surfer’s Paradise goes down as it’s (surprise) Winter now in Australia. I predict it goes back up again in within 6 months!

  8. “…a greater level of trust”? I have no trust in Hilton, after their devaluation of points after I had accumulated some for a planned trip and bought more. I no longer use Hilton hotels.

  9. I no longer stay at Hilton hotels. I had accumulated points and bought some more for a planned trip when they carried out their unscrupulous devaluation last year. My level of trust is zero.

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