Embassy Suites, LAX North, Los Angeles
My conversation with the Hilton HHonors service center this morning made me think of the movie “The Interpreter” and a scene with Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn.
“Tobin Keller: How do you feel about him?
Silvia Broome: I don’t care for him.
Tobin Keller: Wouldn’t mind if he were dead?
Silvia Broome: I wouldn’t mind if he were gone.
Tobin Keller: Same thing.
Silvia Broome: No it isn’t. If I interpreted gone as dead I’d be out of a job, if dead and gone were the same thing there’d be no UN.
Tobin Keller: Your profession is playing with words Ms. Broome.
Silvia Broome: I don’t play with words.
A Hilton HHonors promotion has me wondering what is really meant by “double base points“.
I am referring to the promotion at http://www.embassysuitessocal.com/specials.php.
The wording of the promotion follows and I bolded the wording I question:
“Double HHonors Promotion
Travel to Sunny Southern California and Earn Double HHonors Points! Come and enjoy all the attractions, shopping and dining Southern California has to offer and stay at one of sixteen Embassy Suites in the area! Hotel locations range from Ventura to San Diego and include spacious accommodations in a two-room suite, complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast for each registered guest and nightly Manager’s Reception.* Plus, earn double Hilton HHonors Base points and work towards the HHonors rewards you want twice as fast – from free nights to once-in-a-lifetime vacation experiences! Click on your desired property below and make your reservations between now and December 31, 2008 to earn your rewards. Stay must include a Sunday night. “
I called up the HHonors service center and pointed out the wording shown here and the fact there are no terms and conditions associated with this offer.
The interpretation of the wording “double base points” is critical for elite status consideration.
HHonors Gold is earned with 60,000 base points which is equivalent to $6,000 in eligible hotel charges (10 base points earned per eligible $ spent). Double base points would mean $3,000, rather than $6,000 in eligible spending would earn 60,000 base points.
HHonors Diamond would be earned with $5,000 in spending compared to $10,000 to earn 100,000 base points.
Interpreting double base points in this way is a strategy for attaining elite status on spending rather than stays or nights.
I called Hilton HHonors Service Center and the representative stated that double base points means double base points for elite status qualification. I even pointed out the terms and conditions from another promotion offering “Double Base Points”. Yesterday, I received the Conrad Hotels email newsletter and here are the “Terms and Conditions for the Conrad Istanbul and a double base points promotion:
“Double Base points” means you will receive a bonus equal to the number of Base points earned during a stay. Bonus points earned on Base points do not count toward VIP tier qualification.
The HHonors customer service representative stated since the Embassy Suites offer does not have terms and conditions, then the double elite points do count for VIP tier qualification.
Past Case Examples of Mis-Interpretation:
United Airlines 500% frequent flyer miles 2004 Promotion
It is not uncommon for an airline or hotel loyalty program to change the terms or clarify terms after a promotion has been released. Case in point was the 2004 United promotion offering triple bonus miles. The original terms stated triple miles would be earned in addition to regular base miles and elite bonuses. The terms were changed before the promotion actually started.
There was an uproar from the members on FlyerTalk. A FlyerTalk campaign to honor the original terms for people who signed up while those terms were published was ultimately successful. As a United Mileage Plus 1K member I earned 5x miles from that promotion to earn over 90,000 miles on a single $543 ticket from California to Bangkok. Two weeks after Bangkok I redeemed 80,000 United miles for a Business Class ticket to Europe.
Maybe this “double base points” is a strategy for cheaper elite, but I wouldn’t bank on a favorable interpretation of the terms by HHonors. Loyalty Traveler reads the promotion as currently displayed on the website as meaning double base points that should count for VIP elite status.
I have serious doubts HHonors will give double base points for VIP elite qualification.
I will have to wait for written clarification from HHonors or evidence from qualifying stays to see how the promotion bonus is credited.
Double points is still a good deal and provides a high added value (about a 25% rebate in potential value of points earned) for a HHonors members collecting Points & Points.