Posted by Ric Garrido

Many Hilton HHonors members, to varying degrees, felt the hotel loyalty program was devalued when Hilton HHonors made major changes to the cost of hotel award nights in March 2013. 

Hilton HHonors is the biggest hotel loyalty shock yet in 2013 with today’s announcement of changes coming March 28.

  • 10 hotel award categories ranging in per night price from 5,000 points to 95,000 points.
  • 5th night free for elite members. I assume this means the end to VIP awards since it makes no sense to offer 5th night free to elite members when that discount is currently already the norm.
  • Seasonal award rates.

- Hilton HHonors Major Award Devaluation March 28, 2013

Loyalty Traveler February 19, 2013.

Even Hotel Owners think HHonors points devalued

Hotel News Now quotes Sunstone Hotel Investors CFO Bryan Giglia in its piece this week on the History of Loyalty Programs. Sunstone owns two Hilton brand hotels in Manhattan in Times Square area of New York:

  • Hilton Times Square
  • DoubleTree Suites Times Square.

During its recent second-quarter earnings call with analysts, executives from Sunstone Hotel Investors said the changes to the Hilton HHonors programs is affecting performance at two of its hotels in the Times Square area of New York: the Hilton Times Square and the DoubleTree Suites Times Square.

“Some of the things that will affect our (revenue per available room) growth rate for the two products we have in Times Square is the change in the Hilton HHonors system,” said Bryan Giglia, senior VP and CFO for Sunstone. “They changed the points system, materially devalued the points program across the board, but it specifically impacted our two hotels. And while HHonors has been a fairly significant driver of room nights at our hotels in the New York market, that change has impacted RevPAR growth in those hotels in the second quarter.”

Hotel News Now 11 Aug 2013

The history and evolution of hotel loyalty – Ed Watkins, editor

[Ric Garrido note: bold emphasis is mine]

 

Hilton Times Square is a Category 9 hotel. There is a Standard Room Award available for 70,000 points next Tuesday night August 21.

The new Hilton HHonors system is confusing with seasonal award fluctuation by month. HHonors Standard Room Hotel Categories table.

image

A category 9 hotel standard reward can be priced anywhere from 50,000 to 80,000 points per night. The standard reward rate will be one of the following:

  • 50,000 points per night.
  • 60,000 points per night.
  • 70,000 points per night.
  • 80,000 points per night.

The variation is called the seasonal award range which has to be checked on the Hilton HHonors beta version calendar for award level by each month.

image

DoubleTree Suites New York Times Square is 70,000 points per night in August for this top level HHonors category 10 hotel award. June, September and October this hotel is 95,000 points per night. That is 35% more points for a hotel night in the coming months. Doubletree Suite Times Square does not drop back to 70,000 points per night until January 2014.

This is a Hilton HHonors hotel that in 2013 costs nearly double the points per hotel award night compared to one year ago. Prime evidence of Hilton HHonors points devaluation.

And the hotel owners of the Hilton brand Doubletree Suites Times Square hotel have noticed an impact on revenue since the March 2013 changes to Hilton HHonors.

 

Hilton Times Square is a Category 9 hotel. The other hotel mentioned by Sunstone Hotel Investors CFO as another example where the HHonors changes have impacted RevPar. There is a Standard Room Award available for 70,000 points next Tuesday night August 21. The range for a HHonors Category 9 hotel is 50,000 to 80,000 points.

image

Hilton Times Square rises to 80,000 points per night in September 2013 through December 2013 before dropping back to 70,000 points in January and February 2014.

80,000 points per award night is 60% more points above the 50,000 points rate in 2012. That is HHonors points devaluation.

Of course you get 5th night free on 5-night award stays. That is a 20% discount on points when staying five nights.

Before the March 2013 change, HHonors elite members received a 15% discount in points needed for a 4-night award stay and 25% discount on an award stay of 6 to 14 nights.

Hilton HHonors points were devalued in March 2013.

And even the hotel owners have noticed the impact on HHonors customer loyalty.

 

Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

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23 Responses

  1. Kudos to the customers. This is the way to deliver the message to Hilton. I specifically stay away from Hiltons now. Earning Hilton points is useless. When there is no other option, I do stay, I make sure to get airline miles credit.

  2. I haven’t charged a dime to my HHonors Amex since May.

    I will have one paid stay at the DT Las Vegas because it’s conveniently located for my needs and relatively cheap. That’s it for the rest of the year.

  3. I upgrade my Hilton AmEx to a Surpass for 50,000 points right before the changes (to redemption options as well as earning options) were announced. I collected my 50,000 points and cancelled the card when it was up for renewal. As others have said, earning miles or cash back makes more sense now.

  4. 0 Hiltons in New York City since March 2013
    and no other cities as well. No more revenue no more award redemption and their credit cards Amex and Citibank Visa are dead too waiting to be cut up

    Comment by D Wonderment on August 14th, 2013 at 2:06 pm
  5. There is a price to be paid for such a drastic devaluation, and these hotels are paying it!

  6. I don’t see the point of collecting Hilton points anymore. Between this and a time share presenation in Orlando, I lost a lot of respect for the Hilton brand. I have been staying more at Hyatt and Radisson hotels in lieu of Hiltons.

  7. BTW That’s just NYC
    there is a global ripple affect when you have foolish decisions in any company that affect purchase behavior and customer engagement
    Hilton could have bumped up their awards five or ten percent and few would have blinked but the percentage was off the chart!!!#####$$$$

    Comment by D Wonderment on August 14th, 2013 at 2:28 pm
  8. Good! I am staying away from Hilton earning too. Just burned 290k for Maldives that we are staying at the Conrad next week, then we’re pretty much done. So long Hilton!

  9. I’m not renewing my AmEx card either – will get the SPG AmEx w/ more value

    Comment by Bill n DC on August 14th, 2013 at 2:48 pm
  10. Most of my stays are for work so I get to choose.

    I just burned all my hilton points and will never stay there again.

  11. The devaluation “affected” and “impacted” things. He never says it hurt anything. CFO-speak I guess.

  12. Besides the devaluation we as HH Vacation Club owners got ripped off. Buying into a program where we could exchange our points for use for Hotel stays that are now devalued tremendously. I am sure their presentations have changed. There is no way to exchange your points for even a 5 day hotel stay at premium cities/Hotels. The Sales Manager at HH Vacation Club point out in their presentations incredible places to stay, but with the categories rising on these properties there is no way to vacation there any longer. With my visits to NY I already stayed at some great boutique hotels. Yes goodby to HH banking of points they just are not worth a fair value any longer. I completely understand why these NY hotels are losing revenue. I have asked Hilton about my devaluation of my Timeshare and I never received any feedback that indicated they are going to make any changes. Some either live with the new rules or dump them as a reward program. We as customers need to make our voice and $$ heard.

  13. […] Hilton HHonors members may be interested in this post from Loyalty Traveler in the US.  Even the owners of Hilton hotels in the US are now complaining […]

  14. Awesome to see hotel guests revolt against devaluation had a material impact on profits. I am doing my part – zero stays at Hilton this year – moving 10 very pricey nights to Hyatt.

  15. @Carl P – I originally used the word “hurt” in my title for this post and then I realized that the revenue probably did not actually drop, it just did not rise to the level anticipated.

    So I changed the word in my post title to ‘impacted’ to match the CFO speak.

  16. Hilton points weren’t very valuable except at top properties. Now they aren’t very valuable anywhere! Even allowing for the fact that you earn 3points/$ on credit card spend, and 10points/$ on hotel spend, the points are worth less than 1/3 of Starwood or Hyatt points

  17. PS: I have stopped charging anything on my Hilton card except Hilton stays, and only stay at Hilton if it’s the only viable choice or much, much cheaper. And I made bookings to burn all my points pre-devaluation.

    I think this devaluation will come to be viewed as a pretty significant mistake.

  18. PPS: Plus as you point out, the categories in the award chart almost make no sense any more. A cat 10 can price like a cat 8, and it’s almost impossible to plan how things price. Plus, many, many rooms price even higher as premium rooms. The whole program is close to worthless for points.

    The free Internet and breakfast for Golds is nice…. for Hilton and Conrads, and some Doubletrees (but some Doubletrees sure are cheap about excluding the warm part of the buffet) but why not at Waldorf Astoria?

  19. A Doubletree is Cat 10? Well, that alone tells you something.

    I stay at Hilton now when required but have displaced most stays with SPG and Hyatt. May stop staying there entirely in the future.

    Cool how surrogate HH points earning cards from Virgin Atlantic, BofA Hawaiian, BofH Hawaiian have vanished along with the devaluation. Can’t imagine it’s productive to focus on earning Hilton points going forward.

  20. That Doubletree is a Cat 10 because it is a suite hotel and if you book a 2-double room with a pull-out, you can fit 6 guests in one room. Most hotel rooms in Manhattan have a max occupancy of 2 or 3. The Doubletree gets a premium for the rooms with 2 double beds.

    I think it opened as an Embassy Suites but got rebranded as Doubletree Guest Suites so that they didn’t have to give away breakfast. I think they charge $29.95 for breakfast 7 days/week (it could be more now.) As Gold or Diamond you get 2 free breakfasts, everyone else has to pay…

  21. Had over 450K Hilton points prior to devaluation. Booked a couple of Axon stays and burning up the remaining points as needed but completely halted spending on both my Hilton cards and absolutely no paid stays since.

  22. Earning two UR points with Ink is better than 10 HH points even for Hilton spend.

  23. I am not staying at Hilton any more either. The devaluation in Australia was between 50%-100%, if you can get a room at all. I won’t waste my company’s money there or my own.

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