Oct132011

Do HHonors Premium Rewards Prevent GLON/AXON Rewards at some Hilton Resorts?

The “Hilton HHonors Premium Room Reward Only Scam” is a thread quickly growing on FlyerTalk showing evidence that availability of only Hilton HHonors Premium Rewards have effectively blocked out some resort hotels like Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort and Conrad Sanya, China from Standard Reward redemption and GLON/AXON extended stay rewards at the Standard and Discount redemption rates.

This effectively is a devaluation of HHonors points if only Premium Room Rewards are available since the redemption rate for these rewards rarely exceeds $5.00 per 1,000 points for these Category 6 and Category 7 resort hotels.

FlyerTalk member JasonVR wrote to Hilton HHonors asking if some hotels are now only offering Premium Room Rewards and yesterday posted this response from Hilton .

Hello Mr. jasonvr,

Thank you for your message to Hilton Reservations and  Customer Care. It is my pleasure to assist you today regarding your concerns with Premium Rewards.

We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused. With the new Reward offerings provided by HHonors, some of our hotels only offer Premium Rewards. Because rooms at some of our Resorts offer additional features or are not standard hotel rooms (i.e. bungalows) all room types for these hotels are now considered Premium Roomsand the point values will now reflect this new change.

[bolding was added by jasonvr]

 

A Major Devaluation of HHonors Points

What does this effectively mean?

Will Premium Room Reward only hotels effectively eliminate Standard Room redemption and block availability of extended stay Going Global and American Express AXON rewards for stays of four nights or more?

Here are some rate searches I made today at properties mentioned in the FlyerTalk thread as now having only Premium Room Reward availability.

[Note: click on images below to view full size]

Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa

Looking at flexible dates for points rewards over the next several months showed no standard reward availability at 50,000 points per night.

HHonors Bora Bora flexible dates search showed 151,366 as lowest reward rate.

HHonors Bora Bora rate at $551/night or 151,366 points.

Hilton HHonors Premium Room Reward Redemption rate for Hilton Bora Bora Nui: $649/151,366 is $4.29 per 1,000 points and even less when compared to advance purchase rates.

Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa

This hotel shows 105,822 points for a Premium Room Reward as the new standard for hotel stays on points.

HHonors Reward Stay at Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa costs 105,822.

Granted this places you in a large King Garden Bungalow Pool room, but this room used to be 50,000 points per night or even less with Going Global and AXON rewards.

Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort premium reward

Hilton Moorea Premium Reward Redemption Rate = $453/105,822 = $4.28 per 1,000 points.

 

I still found availability of Standard Rewards for 80,000 points at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives still shows limited Standard Reward availability.

This property shows the high value of Standard Rewards compared to the new Premium Room Rewards.

Redemption Value is $875/80,000 points = $10.94 per 1,000 HHonors points.

Conrad Sanya, China Category 6 Hotel = 40,000 points as Standard Reward.

Conrad Sanya shows only Premium Reward availability.

Granted this is another resort property with special rooms, but the Premium Reward rate is relatively low redemption value for these March 2012 dates.

Conrad Sanya Haitang Bay King Deluxe Plunge Pool Ocean Room

HHonors Redemption Value $495/115,395 = $4.29 per 1,000 HHonors points.

Do you see a redemption rate pattern here with the hotels Premium Room Rewards?

Here is a Premium Room Reward outlier using a different date at Conrad Sanya Haitang Bay for the same room type in December 2011.

HHonors Premium Reward at Conrad Sanya is far less in December 2011.

HHonors Redemption Value $479/79,808 = $6.00 per 1,000 HHonors points.

There is something happening here with Premium Room Rewards at select Hilton Resorts.

The big devaluation?

 

Hat tip to FlyerTalk member Beltway and Gary Leff at View from the Wing pointing me to the FlyerTalk thread today.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

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  1. […] Loyalty Traveler offers a very detailed explanation of this problem and provides some specific examples of this change if you want some additional specifics.  Even though I am not a regular Hilton HHonors user myself, I am still offended by these changes.  I love points and I love loyalty programs.  Heck, I started a blog just because I think points are that fantastic.  I also understand fully that the loyalty programs exist so that the hotels, airlines, etc…. can build loyalty and make a larger profit.  However, that doesn’t mean that it is acceptable to make sure a radical change like this overnight.  People were probably saving their points for honeymoons, once in a lifetime trips, etc… and now they are left with no where near enough points to make that trip.  At least British Airways has forewarned us that a “big change” is coming soon with their program.  Hyatt also recently gave fair warning about properties that were changing award categories.  Heck, just like with the weather, you can’t stop a tornado from coming, but at least sound the alarms so that people can prepare. […]

Comments

  1. Yes this looks very ugly. I had transferred over 150k from AA to book Conrad Maldives but that is looking like a complete waste at this point. I will wait and see what it looks like when the dust settles but frankly (and trust me I am normally the person who mocks this kind of thing the most) I would be tempted to lob in a cheap small claims court complaint against HHonors for this as there was no warning whatsoever this was going to happen and I can show I have been “harmed” by giving up something far more valuable (now). Not suggesting some big class action suit or anything stupid but I do feel that with the complete lack of warning HH have exposed themselves here

  2. This was totally unexpected. The points required have jumped by more than 3 times the normal amount! Even starwood just doubles the points required for a premium room.

  3. I think the respective hotels are taking advantage of the new premium rewards by claiming even their lowest category room is premium. Does this allow them to get more $$ from HHonors for guests who redeem? Too bad HHonors didn’t require that the lowest category room be offered at standard redemtiom rates. The hotel category is already supposed to compensate for location and nicer standard rooms.

  4. Is there a customer advocate for Hilton that can comment on this issue? I’d like to know if I should stop earning Hilton points immediately…either through stays or credit card spend.

  5. If top of line properties start doing this one by one, it is definitely a much worse devaluation of HHonors than the introduction of Cat7 back in early 2010. We all know the best value of Hilton points always lies in those properties and I myself am actually in the middle of collecting Hilton points towards Maldives. Before I started I had the fear that Hilton might change its rule but still convinced myself to go ahead. Even though Conrad Maldives still has the basic room category, I won’t be surprised if they join the bandwagon soon. Well the whole premium room thing started very fishy and is not surprising how it was carried out – if a Cat-7 property runs over $1,000 per night it makes sense to even just buy points directly from Hilton at 1 cent per point. I don’t know if it will become a mistake for Hilton in the long run or other program will follow suit. SPG seems doing OK with its practice of charging double points on all-suite properties.

  6. Hilton needs to publish a list ASAP of the hotels with only “premium” rooms available. It’s bad enough that this is happening, but not being forthright is only making things worse.

  7. I feel they have the right to charge what they want but to do so without any advance notice is egregious.

    I’d write a letter, but have gotten all my 225k points from credit cards so not sure it would matter.

  8. I had been working hard to save up Hilton points for a dream trip to Bora Bora. Now I feel soooo disappointed with Hilton and wish I had never applied for their numerous credit cards!! I cannot believe they made this upsetting move without any notice, and I’m seriously considering move out of Hilton all together.

  9. I’m moving more of my business to Starwood until Hilton cleans up this mess. I’m not convinced that this isn’t the start of a complete meltdown of HHonors.

  10. I saw this coming in July. I tried getting a room at the Conrad Hong Kong, before the official roll out of the new premium room catagories. I was attempting an October booking, and the agent said there were no standard rooms available. The most basic room commanded 88,000 points a night, and this was basic room. I argued saying I thought the policy was there were no blackout dates on standard rooms— obviously not the case. Welcome to devaluation….

  11. Also had an issue with the Conrad hong Kong, as a Diamond they wanted 180,000 to 1million points per night. The previous rate was around 30-50,000

  12. Can confirm that when looking at a one night award for Conrad HKG, it is now 152,163 points. I just had an AXON stay there in January for 145,000 points for four nights!

  13. Hilton Honors, IMO, has never given me the benefits of Starwood. The only issue I have with HH at this point is not giving a warning to its loyal customers. Someone over at Hilton completely forgot about the client when making their changes.

  14. This is a poor decision on the part of HHonors that has the potential to drastically make its customers irate. Changing the reward chart without any warning and making certain properties have such inflated point redemption requirements is a way to cause the loss of customers whom will bolt to competitors.

  15. What is interesting to me is Hilton HHonors has basically set a value on their points with Premium Rewards.

    Last week I analyzed US hotels and found the redemption value was around $3.34. Hilton HHonors changed their webpages after that post and the analysis here shows a redemption rate around $4.28 per 1,000 points.

    Assuming a person earns 30 HHonors points per dollar with base spend, credit card, bonuses. 30,000 points earned for $1,000 in spend.

    Hilton is saying this is worth about 30 x $4.28 = $128.40.

    They are fixing the rebate value on Hilton spend at about $100 to $130 for points earned from $1,000 in hotel spend.

    That works out to 10% to 13% points redemption rebate on Hilton spend.

    That is quite low in my opinion.

    Even Hotels.com gives a 10% rebate.

    Personally I calculate I get more than 50% rebate in the value of free and discounted future hotel stays for my hotel spend each year.

    This move is a serious devaluation and particularly hard on Diamond members who may see complimentary upgrade availability reduced at hotels selling premium rewards to HHonors members.

  16. we were going to transfer a bunch of AA miles from both my account and my wife’s account to my/her Hilton accounts. Then, we both were going to apply for the Hilton CC’s. With this devaluation, the above actions will be on hold or not done. I’ll see how this devaluation plays out.

    My wife has the Starwood card and that is her “go-to” card when we are not meeting minimum spend for a signup bonus. We are quite satisfied with that card.

  17. Word I am seeing in a few places today is Hilton claiming this is a technical glitch.

    Perhaps.

    Or maybe Occupy Hilton Social Media space had an impact.

    Gary Leff
    http://boardingarea.com/viewfromthewing/2011/10/13/has-hilton-hhonors-just-gutted-redemptions-at-their-best-properties/

    MommyPoints http://boardingarea.com/mommypoints/2011/10/13/is-there-a-massive-hilton-hhonors-point-devaluation-happening/

    TravelSort
    http://travelsort.com/blog/hilton-hhonors-points-devaluation-how-to-destroy-loyalty

    I have to say I am glad to see an activist concern over Premium Rewards low value. Last year there was hardly a peep when Hilton changed its reward structure, added Category 7 and shifted 83% of its hotels worldwide to a higher cost reward night with little transparency in disclosure prior to the change.

    Loyalty programs are a kind of social contract where all the real power lies with the hotel chain and loyalty program.

    Changes devaluing your points are issues when Hilton needs to get member feedback.

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