Hilton HHonors Does The Right Thing, Temporarily Brings Back AXON Awards

Last week I wrote about how Hilton HHonors eliminated AXON awards without any sort of advance notice. For those of you not familiar, AXON awards were special discounted award opportunities for those with co-brand Hilton American Express Cards.

It appears that this redemption opportunity was eliminated as of December 31, 2016, without any sort of advance notice. Hilton has been very focused on being transparent with members and announcing changes in advance, so I was a bit surprised to see this.

Well, I just had the chance to speak about this with Aaron Glick, the VP of Hilton HHonors. He’s a great guy, and was embarrassed by the lack of communication about this change. It’s clear that the intent was for this to be communicated, but that just didn’t happen. Apparently this was discontinued due to how few members were using this benefit.

Aaron is incredibly focused on transparency, and said that they’re working on a temporary solution. Hilton HHonors members will temporarily be able to once again book AXON awards. Between this Friday and February 15, 2017, AXON awards should once again be bookable through the Hilton HHonors call center.

As a reminder, Hilton AXON awards can be used to book four night stays at the following rates:

  • Category 5 properties go from 125,000 points to 130,000 points (stays ordinarily cost 30,000-40,000 points per night)
  • Category 6 properties go from 125,000 points to 160,000 points (stays ordinarily cost 30,000-50,000 points per night)
  • Category 7 properties go from 145,000 points to 190,000 points (stays ordinarily cost 30,000-60,000 points per night)
  • Category 8 properties will cost 220,000 points (stays ordinarily cost 40,000-70,000 points per night)
  • Category 9 properties will cost 260,000 points (stays ordinarily cost 50,000-80,000 points per night)
  • Category 10 properties will cost 300,000 points (stays ordinarily cost 70,000-95,000 points per night)

As you can see, in some cases this can represent a good deal, while in other cases it doesn’t.

For example, paying 300,000 HHonors points for a four night stay at a Category 10 property that would cost 380,000 HHonors points is a good deal. However, do keep in mind that elite members get a fifth night free, which wouldn’t apply for an AXON award. So the value largely comes down to whether you want to stay somewhere for four or five days.

Conrad-Koh-Samui
AXON awards can be a great deal for stays at the Conrad Koh Samui

Bottom line

Ultimately I don’t view AXON awards being eliminated as a huge deal. They weren’t used very much, so I can see why they’d get rid of them. However, it’s great to see Hilton doing the right thing and giving members a window of about a month where they can still book these awards.

Do you plan on locking in an AXON award over the next few months?

Comments

  1. @Lucky sez: “Ultimately I don’t view AXON awards being eliminated as a huge deal. They weren’t used very much, so I can see why they’d get rid of them. However, it’s great to see Hilton doing the right thing and giving members a window of about a month where they can still book these awards.”

    Agreed and that was my point about this being a “tempest in a teapot.” It is good that this HHonors VP “apologized”, but the move is more about PR than a realization that the program did anything wrong. Allowing those who wish to take advantage of this feature of the program before they phase it out is a painless solution to quiet the brouhaha because the effects of the month-long extension will be minimal. The way to get around AXON, which is limited to AMEX card holders, is to use the more general “5th award night free” benefit (book 5 nites get one free) rather than to book a 4-night AXON stay, which may or may not be cheaper as you correctly stated…

  2. I don’t see the rationale for discontinuing something like this due to it being underutilized. Like, what is the detriment to Hilton? Is it that they have to keep an extra paragraph or two in their “operation” manual…and the cost of doing that is prohibitive? An extra 5 minutes during the “training” of their phone agents? I’m genuinely curious as to whether there is some real reason for doing this that affects their bottom line (outside of the obvious of taking value away from members).

    I feel like getting rid of something like Axon awards and claiming that they’re doing it b/c it is underutilized is just a piss poor excuse for them to take away value from their loyalty program and insinuate that it doesn’t really matter. It obviously mattered to the people that utilized it.

    And FYI, I’ve never utilized it. But I enjoyed knowing it was there in case I wanted to plan a four day vacation instead of a five day vacation. In my mind, it was another feather in the hat for Hilton that drove me to accrue their points.

  3. LOL. @Ben has never utilized a benefit being phased out and is bitching about the phaseout. Can’t make this stuff up!

    Can HHonors simply do away with a selective (AMEX card holders only) and under-utilized feature of the program without someone somewhere trying to turn a clear molehill into a Himalaya???!!!

  4. @DCS, I think saying that I didn’t use may have distracted from the question I was trying to pose. Why would Hilton take away this benefit when all it does is add value to the users of their program? It’s fine if they want to do it b/c it’s negatively affecting their bottom line due to it requiring less points to book a stay. But using the excuse that it is being taken away b/c only a few are using it seems more like a PR move to shield themselves. And using BS PR irritates me.

  5. @Ben — It was not a distraction; it simply meant that you had no basis for challenging the decision to pull the AXIN “benefit.” Besides, how do you it was not AMEX that decided to end AXON? After all, they were the ones paying Hilton REAL money every time someone booked an AXON stay. Furthermore, even it’s Hilton that decided to end the feature, their T&C do make it clear that they reserved the right to be able to do so. It’s their program, they can change it as they see it fit, just like Hyatt is about to completely gut HGP by disfiguring it into something called WOH! They did not ask your or anyone’s permission and their changes are even more drastic and noxious.

    Your irritation is your problem, not Hilton’s.

    G’day.

  6. Thanks for the update,
    what if i were to book 4 nights of category 10 right now but for future dates and change the dates after this temporary period?

  7. Agree I tried calling as well and was told they cannot be booked still. Very frustrating and want communication before ridding services/benefits!

  8. Reporting back: I successfully booked an AXON award by calling Diamond desk 10 minutes ago. It did take awhile (20 minutes) for the representative to book this award but it worked!!! Thank you Ben!

  9. The Diamond desk took awhile but was very helpful and found the AXON offer in the system. Unfortunately AMEX never sent over the offer to Hilton in my account, so I have to call Amex. I thought it was automatic offer once I have the HH Amex.
    That said , I was told by rep that it is only good for standard room only. I was looking at a hotel in Sicily (Hilton Giardini Naxos) and apparently they don’t offer “standard room” so with all this work, the offer is useless.

  10. Well, this really ticks me off. I’ve used this quite a few times and was trying to confirm the category of the Ocean City Hilton when I couldn’t find hide nor hair mention of a “category”. Lo and behold, a program I like and use gets dropped. If I had known, at least I could have made the reservation before the reinstatement was dropped. But I’m grateful for this post, or I wouldn’t have known *anything about it at all*.

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