Hilton HHonors Summer 2016 Hotel Category Changes

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 that isn’t an award chart massacre like what we saw with HHonors in early 2013, so I guess that’s a good thing overall. After all, we haven’t seen any sort of major award chart devaluation since then.

HHonors hotel category changes as of July 13, 2016

Rather than emailing members when there’s a big award chart change, Hilton has a website where they list the category changes. 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 13, 2016.

18 hotels will be going up in price:

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Meanwhile 13 hotels will be going down in price:

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Hilton has over 4,500 properties around the world, so we’re seeing the price of significantly less than 1% of properties changing, which isn’t a whole lot. On top of that, it’s only really a net increase in redemption costs at five hotels. As often seems to be the case lately, a majority of the category changes seem to be at limited service properties, especially in the US.

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The number of points required for a free night at the Hilton LAX will increase

So if you want to book one of the properties going up in price, be sure to do so by July 13, 2016 — it’s okay if the stay is for a subsequent date. Meanwhile for a stay going down in price you’ll want to ideally wait, or otherwise lock it in now and then try to rebook after the change.

Why Hilton’s hotel category changes don’t even matter

First of all, Hilton’s category changes aren’t really significant since less than 1% 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 last April entitled “Here’s Why Hilton HHonors Has Variable Award Pricing Within Each Category.”

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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.

Bottom line

31 Hilton properties are changing categories, which represents less than 1% of Hilton’s portfolio. Ultimately that’s not something to be worried about. I’d be much more concerned about hotels changing costs within a category, which is something we can’t easily keep track of.

All around I’ve been extremely pleased with Hilton HHonors for the past couple of years, though. They really stepped it up in 2015 in terms of their promotions, which is something HHonors members should be happy about. I also status matched to Hilton Diamond last year, thanks to the generous promotion they were offering.

Have you redeemed points at any of the 31 Hilton-family properties that are changing categories?

Comments

  1. True, it’s not much of a change, but with all of the various devaluations going on in hotels and on airlines, I’m generally discouraged (and completely gun shy about ever buying points). Hotels are even trying to cheat us out of our points if we book rooms through a trade show, and it never used to be like that. I’ll just keep collecting whatever points I can when travelling and forget about it until I want to redeem. I have no loyalty any more.

  2. Anyone stay at the Hilton at Marcos Island (Florida)? I have a bunch of Hilton points and with the 5th night ‘free’ I figured I have 5 nights there to burn through my points. I hear the Marriott there is better but that’s not an option right now. I was looking to go next Sept (they are closed now for renovations). Thanks for the input! And yes I know for the volume of points I could be just about anywhere else but it’s not an option for the person I’m traveling with so it needs to be a direct flight from where I live (not many to anywhere I really want to go) so I’ve narrowed it down to this area.

  3. Anyone stay at the Hilton at Marcos Island (Florida)? I have a bunch of Hilton points and with the 5th night ‘free’ I figured I have 5 nights there to burn through my points. I hear the Marriott there is better but that’s not an option right now. I was looking to go next Sept (they are closed now for renovations). And yes I know for the volume of points I could be just about anywhere else but it’s not an option for the person I’m traveling with so it needs to be a direct flight from where I live (not many to anywhere I really want to go) so I’ve narrowed it down to this area. Thanks for the input!

  4. very curious about Hilton Marco Island myself…grabbed a nice points&cash rate for a few nights in January 17, would love to hear about bennies for gold/diamond members if anyone’s been lately

  5. seeking similar insight on the Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort as well, which is the other place we’re considering going. leaning toward marco island based on images of the beach and access to sports / water sports, but considering switching to Ft. Laud.

  6. Mike – I’m dying to hear about your January stay since they will have just reopened after the renovation. They were offering very low point per room during the December timeframe I assume because they were going to be doing a soft opening. Then it looks like it’s going up to 80k a night (and that doesn’t seem to even cover the umbrella rental which is pretty petty to charge for that). Anyway I hope you REALLY like it. If I like it next fall I will use my Hilton 2 weekend night voucher and then three nights at the Marriott.

  7. My experiences of HHonors is the opposite, 3 stays in 8 months in US hilton hotels have basic service issues, from No wifi to finding a staffer in my room when i entered with the do not disturb sign on the outside door not reason given why that person was in the room.. The attitude of staff at Hilton North America hotels is woeful at best and don’t care about basic issues.. While outside North American, especially South East Asia and South America the Hilton brand is still respected and act like the old hilton , not a cheap motel 69, like in North America… Marriott Staff are better trained and have knowledge as a bench mark.

  8. Hilton category points is kind of sham. Sometimes the 95K point hotel/rooms require more than 275K depending on the month/day.

  9. @ff_lover – When an award costs more than the standard redemption it means that they are out of basic rooms, and you’re paying for a higher prices rooms because that’s all they have available at the time. At least, this is how it works in theory. I’ve seen basic rooms available with cash, but not via award.

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