HHonors will revert back to calendar year elite qualification and end rolling 12-month qualification as of January 1, 2009. Members who reach an elite level in 2008 will maintain that status until March 31, 2010. The membership year will now end in the month of March rather than April as had been the rule.
Elite Membership Year: Qualify for a membership level in 2008 and your elite status level will remain effective through March 31, 2010.
The new membership year is a change from the prior membership year rules which allowed a member reaching an elite level in one calendar year to maintain that membership level through the month of April (HHonors member attaining Diamond elite in 2007 holds that level through April 2009).
HHonors has always done things just a little differently.
· HHonors is the only program that qualifies hotel stays using points towards frequent guest elite status activity.
· HHonors requires a 6-night stay or longer to get the points reduction on multiple night hotel stay awards.
· HHonors almost exclusively targets bonus points promotions tailored to specific members rather than recruiting frequent guests from the masses with open registration for high value promotions. This targeted marketing strategy comes from the hotel program that used to give away thousands of points a year just for updating your guest profile online every quarter.
HHonors introduced “Rolling Tier” elite qualification in the beginning of 2005.
HHonors has been the only major hotel loyalty program in the past few years to offer elite qualification on a 12-month rolling tier model where any 12-month period could be used for qualification.
Advantage of Rolling-Tier Elite Qualification
Even HHonors diamond members struggled to understand how HHonors rolling tier was calculated. There is a 92-page thread on FlyerTalkto attest to the confusing aspects of the Hilton HHonors rolling tier elite qualifying method.
In my opinion, rolling tier elite qualification was primarily a benefit for a frequent traveler who may have finished one calendar year (assume 2007) short of desired elite status.
Let’s say the traveler started a new job in June 2007 and made 20 Hilton stays by December 31st, 2007. The member stayed enough to qualify for mid-level elite membership as HHonors Gold member after 16 stays, but the real benefits of hotel frequent guest program high-elite membership come with top-tier elite membership. The frequent guest needed 28 stays, 60 nights, or $10,000 of eligible hotel spending to reach 100,000 base points and qualify for HHonors Diamond elite membership.
Under most hotel loyalty programs (Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, Starwood) the member would have started January 1, 2008 of the new calendar year with a cleared slate of 0 Stays and 0 Nights towards elite membership qualification.
The HHonors member with 20 stays on December 31, 2007 had a much lower threshold for elite status qualification in 2008. Only 8 more stays by June 2008 in the rolling tier qualification period was needed to reach top-tier Diamond elite membership in Hilton HHonors.
A hotel frequent guest seeking top elite status in one of the major programs but without this status on December 31, 2007 had minimal incentive to stay with their particular loyalty program for 2008. Each program requires about the same amount of hotel activity for earning top elite status and the member starts from scratch on January 1, 2008. Rolling tier qualification should have been a competitive advantage for Hilton HHonors in maintaining loyalty for 2008.
Qualification Criteria for Top-Tier Elite Membership
(all these programs now base elite qualification on hotel activity for Jan 1- Dec 31 calendar year)
Hilton HHonors Diamond: 28 stays, 60 nights, or earning 100,000 base points.
Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond: 25 stays or 50 nights
InterContinental Hotels Group Priority Club Platinum: 50 nights or earn 60,000 points.
Marriott Rewards Platinum: 75 nights
Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum: 25 stays or 50 nights.
The transfer of loyalty to a different hotel frequent guest program becomes much more costly to the loyalty program member in terms of lost amenities and benefits once top-elite membership is attained in any hotel loyalty program.
This is why most hotel loyalty programs will give a top-tier frequent guest in one program a complimentary status match to top-tier elite membership.
And this is why the benefits and privileges of top-tier elite membership are usually generous as a means of keeping the high value frequent guest loyal to a particular hotel chain.
Hilton HHonors has decided to eliminate rolling tier elite qualification, so apparently there was not ample competitive advantage with this hotel loyalty program feature.