Since 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 instead. 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 consider that to be a good thing, since we haven’t seen a major devaluation to the Hilton HHonors program since early 2013.
HHonors hotel category changes as of January 11, 2017
Rather than emailing members when there’s a big award chart change, Hilton has a website where they list the category changes. I’ve just been informed that some updates will be published today for changes happening this winter. The Hilton HHonors award categories for 11 hotels will be increasing for bookings made as of January 11, 2017. These include the following hotels:
- Hilton Urumqi (Urumqi, China) – New Category: 3 / Previous Category: 2
- Hampton by Hilton Newport /East (Newport, United Kingdom) – New Category: 2 / Previous Category: 1
- Doubletree by Hilton Newark – Fremont (Newark, California) – New Category: 5 / Previous Category: 4
- Hilton Oakland Airport (Oakland, California) – New Category: 6 / Previous Category: 4
- Embassy Suites Hotel Tampa / University South Florida / Near Busch Gardens (Tampa, Florida) – New Category: 5 / Previous Category: 4
- Hampton Inn Cornelia (Cornelia, Georgia) – New Category: 3 / Previous Category: 2
- Hampton Inn & Suites Meridian (Meridian, Idaho) – New Category: 4 / Previous Category: 3
- Embassy Suites Hotel Baltimore / Washington International Airport (Linthicum, Maryland): New Category: 5 / Previous Category: 4
- Hampton Inn Bar Harbor (Bar Harbor, Maine) – New Category: 9 / Previous Category: 7
- Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder (Santa Fe, New Mexico) – New Category: 5 / Previous Category: 4
- Hampton Inn & Suites Dumas (Dumas, Texas) – New Category: 4 / Previous Category: 2
Hilton has over 4,500 properties around the world, so we’re seeing price increases at just under a quarter of a percent of properties. Furthermore, almost all of these hotels are limited service properties, so there don’t seem to be any hotels changing categories that are especially popular for redemptions.
So if you want to book one of the properties going up in price, be sure to do so before January 11, 2017 — 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 so few properties are changing categories.
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.”
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.
While we see category shifts quarterly, this is the fewest number of properties I ever recall changing category, as fewer than a quarter of a percent of Hilton properties are increasing in price. So that’s not a big deal at all, and ultimately I’d be much more concerned about hotels changing costs within a category, which is something we can’t easily keep track of.
Overall I’ve been quite pleased with Hilton HHonors lately, and in particular with the great promotions they’ve been running for earning points.
Have you redeemed points at any of the 11 Hilton-family properties that are changing categories?