Traveling last summer I missed a FlyerTalk discussion on the HHonors program T&C changes July 19 where the wording was added to officially exclude reward stays from Diamomd elite member guaranteed reservations, usually arranged through the HHonors Diamond elite member customer service.
Guaranteed reservations availability, subject to the restrictions stated herein, at hotels within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio when paid reservations are made before midnight hotel local time, two or more days (48 hours) prior to intended arrival. RESTRICTIONS: This guarantee does not apply to reservations paid for in part or in full by HHonors Points, free night certificates issued by Hilton Worldwide.
The use of “Diamond Force” reservations, the informal name used for making a reward reservation when the website showed no availability, was effectively lost when Hilton HHonors introduced Premium Room Rewards in 2011.
The loss of this Diamond elite benefit is official in 2012.
In 2000 I earned one million miles in the LatinPass frequent flyer program. I spent the next few years transferring 30,000 LatinPass miles each month into 60,000 HHonors points.
Immediately I discovered that trying to book 6-night stays for 100,000 points using GLON rewards with Hilton HHonors was often impossible online as a HHonors Gold member. The hotel would not be available for one or more nights. I made sure that I earned HHonors Diamond elite status for 2001, primarily for the benefit of “Diamond Force” reservations for reward stays using points.
“Diamond Force” was something I used several times a year since most of my extended hotel stays happened during holidays and summer when a school teacher is free to travel.
I would call up the HHonors Diamond customer service line and the representative would arrange my stay directly with the hotel. Within a day or two my reservation was set for a 6-night stay using 100,000 points. When I was HHonors Gold I simply could not book the 6-night reward stays when the hotel showed no standard reward availability.
Premium Room Rewards introduced 2011
In 2011 HHonors introduced Premium Room Rewards and charged a higher reward night rate for room categories above the standard room level for the hotel. In 2012 the expansion of Premium Room Rewards meant Diamond elite member customer service could not necessarily force a reward stay for the standard number of points. Diamond elite members were impacted by Premium Room Reward rates similar to the increased reward stay cost other HHonors members faced when trying to book rooms with no standard room availability.
Note: The amount of HHonors Points required to redeem hotel rewards varies by hotel, room, booking date and length of stay. Availability of rewards varies by hotel and stay dates at the time of booking.
As of July 19, 2012 HHonors officially removed the Diamond guarantee for reservations at a hotel when using HHonors points or free night certificates for any part of the hotel stay.
Points & Money Rewards and double bonus double dipping for both airline miles and bonus points promotions are enhancements to HHonors in 2012. The loss of a valuable Diamond benefit for standard reward stays is another blow to the HHonors program for 2012.
Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.