Hilton Honors Is Making Some Minor Award Pricing Adjustments

Hilton Honors has made some major changes this year, including changing their name (slightly), introducing points pooling, letting select members extend Diamond status by a year, adjusting how they price awards, and introducing new Points & Money awards.

One of the major changes that Hilton Honors made is that they no longer have an award chart with categories. Instead they have variable award pricing, which may seem bad on the surface, but I’ve actually been impressed by how they’ve implemented it. When you combine that with Hilton’s new Points & Money awards, more members than ever before have the ability to redeem their points.

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While certain loyalty programs have eliminated award charts in order to be less transparent, that’s not what Hilton Honors is doing. They’ve been very open in communicating their intentions.

While Hilton doesn’t technically have an award chart anymore, they’ve said that the cost of award nights at a given hotel won’t be higher than the previous highest cost when they did have award charts. That means Hilton’s top hotels won’t cost more than 95,000 points per night, etc.

While there’s not an award chart anymore, Hilton does have an online tool where they’ll let you look up the maximum number of points required for a stay at a given hotel.

Hilton has reached out to say that as of July 7, 2017, they’ll be adjusting the maximum number of points that may be required for redemptions at four properties:

With continued rapid growth in China, DoubleTree Hangzhou East’s top price will move from 10K to 20K Points, DoubleTree Jiaxing from 5K to 10K Points, and DoubleTree Wuhu from 5K to 10K Points. Also, with a major renovation now complete at Hampton Inn Universal Orlando, their top price will move from 20K to 30K Points. As a reminder, those Points prices are the most a member would pay. Points prices can still be lower when the hotel’s paid rate goes down.

This is the first time that Hilton has increased the maximum number of points required for specific properties since their new pricing system went into effect in March. These changes seem fair to me, and I appreciate that they’re communicating them.

I think long term it’s to be expected that the maximum number of points required at certain properties will change, just as they did when Hilton had more traditional award pricing. For various reasons, revenue rates at hotels can fluctuate significantly, and award pricing for hotels will always reflect that.

I continue to get the sense that Hilton Honors isn’t pulling a fast one here, and that they’re committed to running a stable program. It’s my understanding that they’ll continue to update the online tool that shows the maximum number of points required for each property, which is a useful reference point.

So I don’t view this as the start of them raising the cost of awards at hundreds of hotels, increasing the cost of redemptions at their top hotels to 200,000 points per night, etc. Instead I think every so often we’ll see the maximum number of points required for a small percentage of properties increase, which is fair enough.

Comments

  1. This is an interesting move that leaves Hilton with plenty of wiggle room. Their major change this year is still an overall devaluation. Fortunately they still have generous (and recurring) bonus points opportunities.

  2. Any timeframe for when I can dump my points for Amazon? I know it’s not a good use of the points but they will time out and I can’t use them, may as well do something with ’em.

  3. Ben, I just checked the point rate for a one night stay at the Waldorf Hilton London for July 3 and Hilton is quoting 209,000 for the night. I thought it would be a max of 95,000. Can you explain this?

  4. Gregg, the maximum of 95,000 applies only to standard room awards. If no standard rooms are available (and in some properties like the Waldorf Amsterdam there are very few standard rooms), then it’s a premium reward instead which is outrageously expensive and never a good deal.

  5. Wait – I thought some (ok one) had claimed that SPG had the “most outrageously priced awards in the business”? Hilton seems to take the cake. Shame.

  6. How can you be so far off? Hilton has practically devaluated their points value by maybe 50% for my use profile. I used to be a Hilton loyalist and except for burning my points I will have no business with them any more. Useless program…

  7. There is absolutely nothing that happened here. The programmatic changes implemented back in March were clear: The maximum STANDARD award costs per hotel category were “frozen” in time when the program went almost fully revenue-based. Therefore, although no longer used for the purpose of setting award costs, the award chart still exists as a reference for the purpose of raising or lowering a property’s standard award CAP. If anyone has better a idea about how to accomplish the same thing, we’re all ears. However, to complain about “lack of transparency”, when Hilton did not have to disclose these fairly minor changes but did anyway, is just the sort of silliness that passes for erudite commentary only in travel blogosphere.

    BTW, it is mind-boggling that people get so confused about the fact that hotel loyalty programs have standard awards, which are governed by a program’s terms and conditions, and “premium” awards, which are generally at the discretion of hotels. Per HHonors T&C, their standard awards are capped at 95K/night. Therefore, when a Hilton property displays an award cost of 209,000 for the night, it should be obvious that the displayed cost is for a “premium” award (if you are still no sure, just look next to the award cost, it will tell you whether “standard” or “premium” reward.) Other programs would simply show no availability where HHonors shows those exorbitantly priced “premium” rewards…take a pick as to which you think is the better way to discourage award redemption 😉

  8. BTW, I believe that @Lucky’s take on the just announced HH changes is 100% on the money. My preceding post simply addressed some negativity that popped up here and there, from the usual suspect who never take the time think about whether or not a change announced by HHonors is positive or negative. They have the same knee-jerk reaction, which is invariably to claim a change to be a negative or a “devaluation” even when, like here, absolutely nothing changed.

  9. @UA-NYC

    As far as standard rates go, Starwood has by far the most outrageous. Hilton is 95,000 a night for points worth 0.4 cp = $380. SPG is 30,000 for points worth 2.0cp (and I rate them lower than almost anyone) = $600. And that’s not even counting those luxury properties where they charge you double

  10. I have one example where they did not publicly communicate a rate increase. The HGI Singapore went from 10000 points to 20000 points for standard awards. DCS will probably defend them saying the property had not opened yet when they changed the rates, but still a bit in the gray area regarding their promise.

    Hope this does not happen with more of their yet to open properties that had one rate before the change and hopefullly not another one after.

  11. @Rasmus: “DCS will probably defend them saying the property had not opened yet when they changed the rates…”

    Right. Since the property was not previously categorized and was not even yet open for business, why again would it be a “crime” to put it in any category without a warning?

  12. @DCS

    Pretty sure it was categorized as category 2.

    Just like other hotels that were not open yet, they had categories under the old system.

    Anyway it was just a criticism, which does not mean I do not like Hilton. I really love them as they are usually better priced in the markets I am interested in. However, your love of them and unwillingness to accept any form of criticism of Hilton is inexplicable.

  13. @James – if you only value Starpoints at 2.0 CPM, you aren’t using them right. I have no issue getting 2.5-3.0 for them regularly, and have a 6.0 CPM in peak ski season next spring. Not that hard.

    No defense of the very few all-suite properties in C7, though that will change after the program completion.

    @Rasmus – amen to that! Being a rational human being means being able to see both the good and the bad of things 😉

  14. @Rasmus — You’re trying too hard to make a point that cannot be made, or would be totally meaningless or inconsequential even if made. So, knock yourself out.

    I am here to debunk mindless criticisms; not all criticisms HH. And as I recently argued, I am not as blindly wedded to HHonors as it might seem. Rather, I am an “equal opportunity opportunist” who goes wherever I will get “best value”…

    G’day.

  15. “amen to that! Being a rational human being means being able to see both the good and the bad of things”

    On that basis you would dropped SPG and shut the hell up a long time ago. Then again, a “rational being” is not how anyone would characterize you with a straight face.

  16. LOL – you say a lot of dumb things, but that one may take the cake. I’ve actually had one of my best Starwood/SPG stays years ever…SNAs all cleared, unique & luxury int’l properties a Hilton loyal could never sniff, great Ambassador service.

    You’d think a scientist could actually see both the good and bad in things…apparently not if you’re dogmatic enough.

  17. Go on and hyperventilate your heart out, but then return to the real world where your favorite program is for all practical purposes dead, operating at the discretion of the better program that swallowed it.

    And the topic of this thread that’s got you unhinged?
    “Hilton Honors Is Making Some Minor Award Pricing Adjustments”
    Yup. That’s it. Some minor award pricing with no consequence whatsoever, got you all worked up.

    ‘Nuff said…

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