Hilton HHonors made a confusing change last year to their hotel reward categories when they created HHonors seasonal reward rates. The effect of this change makes it necessary to check a separate web page to determine the actual hotel category of any HHonors hotel listed as category 4 to 10, in order to determine the nightly points needed for a reward stay.
The only real need for a hotel category award level is to establish the number of points for an award night. Hilton HHonors put in place a system where many hotels have a fixed hotel reward category, yet the points needed for a reward stay vary based on the month of the year. Their system is unnecessarily confusing and makes little sense compared to the fixed hotel category award rates used in other hotel loyalty programs.
Choice Privileges is the only other hotel chain that varies award level throughout the year. Starwood has peak season rates at high end hotels, but those are truly seasonal rates. HHonors is actually floating the hotel category without stating this is what they do.
This post uses the Hilton Garden Inn Monterey, category 7, as an example for why Hilton HHonors fixed hotel categories are meaningless.
HHonors Points Search Tool
http://hhonorspointssearchtool.com/ is the monthly calendar to check the standard reward rates for Hilton brand hotels. This is a vital resource to bookmark or favorite.
In April 2013 HHonors increased to 10 hotel reward categories and added seasonal reward rates allowing monthly shifts in reward cost, yet maintained a system of labeling each of their 4,000 hotels globally as a Category 1 to 10 for awards.
Not So Simple in Reality.
HHonors Rewards are much more confusing now since there are seasonal rates on Standard Rewards. A category 7 hotel might be 30,000 points or 40,000 points or 50,000 points or 60,000 points per night.
Points & Money Rewards are 40% of the points for the Standard Reward. HHonors Points & Money Rewards are dependent on the Standard Reward price.
A category 7 hotel with a Points & Money Reward might be 12,000 points + $50 per night or 24,000 points + $100 per night depending on whether the Standard Reward is a low 30,000 points or a peak 60,000 points per night.
The HHonors Hotel award category master assignment has a vague meaning when seasonal reward pricing determines the actual reward level. A category 7 hotel does not really mean much when it changes throughout the year in reward cost.
Hilton Garden Inn Monterey is shown as a category 7 hotel. In the old system prior to last year’s changes, I could equate HHonors category 7 with 50,000 points per night for a Standard Award. That is the system HHonors had for several years until 2013.
According to the current HHonors chart, the reward rate can be 30,000 to 60,000 points for a category 7 hotel reward.
Hilton Garden Inn Monterey is really only a Category 7 hotel at 60,000 points per night for the month of August 2014. Every other month in 2014, the standard reward rate is 40,000 points for this hotel.
The issue for the consumer and loyalty member is the Monterey Hilton Garden Inn webpage showing the hotel is a category 7 has little meaning unless you are staying in the month of August.
HHonors in reality is changing the hotel reward category throughout the year, but that is not how they market their hotel reward stay system.
This is how I think the HHonors award chart should actually look to be more practical for HHonors members:
What HHonors calls “seasonal award” variability is in effect the hotel changing reward category in different months of the year.
Hilton Garden Inn Monterey, California is listed as a category 7 hotel. Aside from the month of *August 2014 when standard reward rates are 60,000 points per night, the HGI Monterey is equivalent to HHonors Category 5 in my table at 40,000 points per night for any other month of the year.
* As an aside, August is the foggiest month of the year in Monterey. You might find the area to be very gray and lousy for photography.
In reality, Hilton HHonors category 7 designates the highest category level in terms of points needed for a standard reward night.
My chart shows that 60,000 points is the top end for a category 7 hotel and that is the HGI Monterey rate in August 2014.
HHonors calls this variability in reward pricing seasonal award shift. I call it seasonal award shit.
The HHonors reward stay system would make much more sense to simply state hotels drift between reward categories month to month. And a simple HHonors reward table with one points value associated with one hotel reward category would be far more comprehensible to Hilton HHonors members.
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.