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Upcoming Hilton Changes Are the Worst Ever

Upcoming Hilton Changes Are the Worst Ever

Changes to hotel programs’ award prices are a fact of travel life.

Price increases inevitably outpace price decreases, resulting in an overall devaluation of members’ banked points.

Grumbling ensues, but most travelers stop short of ditching the offending program because, well, all the programs are devaluing their points so there’s little to be gained by switching.

The changes announced this week by Hilton may be of a different order, however. They could result in significant numbers of HHonors members not just bemoaning the higher prices but rethinking their loyalty altogether.

March 28

March 28 is the date the new HHonors award chart and pricing will take effect.

The changes:

  • Instead of the current seven award categories, there will be 10 categories with the top rate increasing from 50,000 points to 95,000 points per night.
  • Within each award category, there will be low- and high-season rates.
  • Elite members will receive a fifth night free when booking a four-night award stay.

Hilton has published a list of the new award categories. Unhelpfully, the list doesn’t include the current price or the new high- and low-season prices, so for a before-and-after comparison, you’ll have to toggle back and forth between two lists.

A review of randomly picked Hilton properties showed that most award prices will either remain the same or increase at the low-season levels, and increase precipitously at the high-season levels.

As an example, the Conrad New York is currently a Category 7 hotel, requiring 50,000 points per award night. Under the new scheme, it will be a Category 9 hotel, requiring 70,000 points in low season and 80,000 points in high season. The new rates are 40 to 60 percent higher than those currently in effect.

The fifth-night-free for elites, which is copied from Marriott and Starwood’s programs, is a downgrade as well, since it replaces the current discounts for elite stays (15 percent discount for a four-night stay; 20 percent for a four-night stay; 25 percent for a six-night stay).

In all, the changes amount to one of the most sweepingly negative downgrades ever, for Hilton or any major hotel chain.

It also makes HHonors, already the most complicated of the hotel loyalty programs, even more so.

Making the Best of a Bad Situation

In the short term, the standard advice applies during the grace period before price increases take effect: Book award nights at current prices before any increases take effect on March 28.

In this case, travelers will also want to consider the longer view and reevaluate their continued participation in HHonors.

Reader Reality Check

How will these changes affect your loyalty to Hilton hotels?

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  • Scott

    And let’s not forget that Hilton just raised the requirements to maintain Elite status. Makes this announcement a double whammy!

  • Ed

    I just used nearly all my Hilton points for a 3-night stay in Naples, FL … so I won’t try to accrue any new points and will likely cancel my Hilton credit card and go for cards that give me cash. Ed

  • Bret J

    From best to worst in one fell swoop! If you look at a premium hotel using points now vs after the “new and improved structure” you’ll find it takes some 40,000 points per night MORE for that same award!!! I’ve been a Diamond member since its inception and I’m leaving Hilton for Hyatt or Marriott.

  • Dave

    They have lost my Diamond tier business. I already took my 600k points and booked 16 nights in French Polynesia over Christmas/New Years. I have also contacted Hyatt, Starwood, and Carlson properties and they will match your tier if you provide them a screen shot of your account and sometimes a little more information. Hilton doesn’t deserve loyalty when they treat their customers like this.

  • Carla Johnson

    I have been a Hilton Honors gold member for several years and was a Diamond member for 1 year. We go out of our way to stay at a Hilton family member if at all possible. I have been very disappointed in the last few months in the changes they have and are making. Not only is the program changing, but their prices are going up.

    I am also frustrated with their new website. I have called and complained as it is impossible to make reservation through AOL. I will NOT be giving them the high rankings on the Freddy list that I have given in the past.

  • Nicolo

    I have been an Hhonors Diamond member for several years and a Starwood Platinum member for even longer. I have always believed Starwood to offer a better program overall and significantly better customer service – no comparison in fact on the latter. Hilton has always been my backup mainly because there are far more properties when traveling outside of large cities in the US. With this latest plan downgrade I think now it’s time to ditch Hilton and switch to Marriott. From everything I hear from friends and colleagues Marriott offers a better program and maybe they will value my 40 Hilton nights last year.

  • DaB

    I’ve been a Diamond and Gold member some years and joined the program because of locations in smaller cities where I often travel. This has had me get a HH AE card and focus my other hotel travel on the Hilton chain. I was wanting to bank points to use for foreign travel vacations. Now its time to rethink this, due to their new highly inflationary changes. Does anyone know of a good loyalty chain with many US locations in smaller cities plus international cities?

  • aaron62287

    very late to this party, but IHG has more small town locations than Hilton and currently has a structure like the old HHonorss, with 50k points for their top tier.