As of April 2014, Hilton HHonors has shifted how they make award category changes. Rather than having massive hotel category adjustments every so often, they’re doing quarterly adjustments. That’s to say that they’re not changing the number of points required for each category every quarter, but rather are shifting which hotels belong in which categories.
Ultimately I favor anything which isn’t an award chart massacre like what we saw with HHonors in early 2013, so I guess that’s a good thing overall.
HHonors hotel category changes as of July 8, 2015
Rather than emailing members when there’s a big award chart change, Hilton now has a website where they list the category changes. And that website has just been updated to reflect the Hilton family properties changing HHonors award category this summer, which will kick in for bookings made as of July 8, 2015.
18 HHonors properties will be going up in price:
For hotels going up in price, 16 are going up by one category, while two are going up by two categories:
Meanwhile two HHonors properties will be going down in price:
As you can see, both of the properties are going down by one category. Hilton has over 4,000 properties around the world, so here we’re seeing the price of 0.5% of them change, which is next to nothing.
So if you want to book one of the properties going up in price, be sure to do so by July 8, 2015 — it’s okay if the stay is for a subsequent date.
Why Hilton’s hotel category changes don’t even matter
First of all, Hilton’s category changes aren’t really significant since fewer than 0.5% of properties are changing in price.
But more importantly, they don’t really matter since the Hilton HHonors program is already sort of kind of revenue based. I explained the logic in a post in April entitled “Here’s Why Hilton HHonors Has Variable Award Pricing Within Each Category.”
Within Categories 4-10 there’s a huge variance in the per night cost of a stay, depending on seasonality/demand. In other words, hotels are pretty easily able to “silently” raise award costs significantly without it being published as part of a category change.
The cost of a Category 4 property can increase by 50% without any award chart changes. The cost of a Category 7 property can increase by 100% without any award chart changes. The cost of a Category 9 property can increase by 60% without any award chart changes.
That’s not my preferred way for programs to operate, since it makes aspirational/expensive properties disproportionately expensive. But I also can’t fault Hilton for choosing to run their program that way. In some cases the loyalty program has to compensate the hotel for points redemptions based on the actual rate, so why shouldn’t the cost of redemptions reflect that? Again, that’s not the most rewarding system for those who like aspirational redemptions, but it also means some members aren’t subsidizing others’ redemptions.
20 Hilton properties are changing categories, which represents fewer than 0.5% of their portfolio. Ultimately that’s not something to be worried about. What’s much more worrisome are hotels creeping up in cost within their category, especially for hotels which are now at “peak” pricing year round.