Priority Club’s “Luckiest Loser” promotion offers Priority Club members who were also HHonors members as of January 31, 2010 an instant 1,000 points for registering and providing hotel stay data.
The 20,000 HHonors members with the highest account balances will be rewarded 20,000 Priority Club Rewards points or points equal to 20% of their HHonors points balance, whichever is smaller.
The “Luckiest Loser”, the HHonors member with the highest verifiable account balance, will earn 2,000,000 Priority Club Rewards points. That is sufficient for 50 nights at top tier InterContinental Hotels or at least 80 nights at Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, and other InterContinental Hotel Group brands like Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, Hotel Indigo, and Holiday Inn Express.
The competition runs through February 28, 2010.
The first thing that caught my attention was the choice of hotels and the redemption value placed on hotel stays in the promotional ad copy.
Loyalty Traveler Keeping it Real for Priority Club Calculations of Hilton HHonors Reward Nights
The Doubletree Hotel Denver used to be one of my regular hotel stopovers. I don’t recall if I ever redeemed points there since the rates were usually so low. This hotel shifted from category 2 at 20,000 points to category 3 for 25,000 points.
A better example would have been the Hampton Inn Denver West Federal Center that went from 10,000 points to 25,000 points. The HHonors member with 40,000 points could have redeemed 4 reward nights before the changes and only 1 after the change.
There are five Hilton Garden Inn Chicago locations, but only the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown/ Magnificent Mile is actually in the city of Chicago. This hotel was a Category 5 that shifted to Category 6. This can’t be the hotel in the Priority Club list. There are four other hotels that do fit the profile of a category 3 to category 4 shift.
Hilton Garden Inn Chicago/Midway Airport, Bedford Park
Hilton Garden Inn Chicago North Shore/Evanston
Hilton Garden Inn Chicago/O’Hare Airport, Des Plaines
Hilton Garden Inn Chicago/Oakbrook Terrace, Oakbrook Terrace
100,000 points for the Hampton Inn & Suites Orlando shows a 2009 category 2 hotel that increased to category 3. There are hundreds of hotels that made the jump from category 2 to category 3. There were 1,159 hotels in category 2 before the changes. Now there are 118 hotels left in category 2. I really thought HHonors would leave a much higher proportion of hotels in Category 2 to mitigate the increases in category points for hotel rewards at the higher levels. Hilton proved me wrong.
Change this selection to the Hilton Brisbane or Parmelia Hilton Perth and you see the real devaluation of Hilton HHonors points. These HHonors category 6 hotels at 40,000 points were category 3 hotels at 25,000 points last month. Your 4 nights in Australia dropped to two nights after the changes. That hardly makes it worth a flight from Sydney to Perth.
Doubletree Suites Charleston is one of the 22 hotels that made the leap from category 5 at 35,000 points to the new category 7 at 50,000 points for a free night. A member with 140,000 points needs 10,000 more points for 3 nights, but only 30,000 more points for a 4 night stay with the new 4-night VIP reward at 170,000 points for a Category 7 hotel.
175,000 points would buy 5 nights at the Las Vegas Hilton in 2009 for this category 5 hotel. When I attended BlogWorld2009 in October the hotel room rates were $49 per night and the post-conference party took place at the pool deck of the Las Vegas Hilton hotel. This place is now a category 6 hotel! Las Vegas is rarely a good use of hotel points in my opinion unless you can land a room when rates are skyhigh.
Courthouse Doubletree London is another hotel making the double category jump from 5 to 7. In 2009 the category 5 VIP award for 8 nights was just 200,000 points for two extra nights. This differs from the table.
The 5-night category-7 VIP award is 200,000 points as long as you are HHonors silver elite (4 stays or 10 nights in a year or a HHonors American Express cardmember). Priority Club’s table shows only 4 nights available at the standard nightly rate of 50,000 points per night or 200,000 points.
A member with 280,000 points would still get 7 nights at the Hilton Hawaiian Village with the new Category 7 VIP reward at 37,500 points per night or 262,500 points. The 9-night VIP reward in 2009 for a category 6 hotel was only 265,000 points. The 2010 9-night VIP reward for a Category 7 hotel like the Hilton Hawaiian Village is now 337,500 points, a 27% increase.
This was a popular topic on BoardingArea.com blogs today.
Gary Leff –View from the Wing – Priority Club Throwdown, At Least 1,000 Free Priority Club Points
The Wandering Aramean – Priority Club attacking HHonors – the gloves come off
TMtravelworld – Free 1000 Priority Club Points
Lucky – One Mile at a Time – Priority Club’s “Luckiest Loser” promotion
Loyalty Traveler – January 15, 2010 – HHonors 2010 Hotel Category Shift – It is Bad!
Loyalty Traveler October 27, 2009 – HHonors members Angry over Category Step Up (tables show both 2009 and 2010 VIP reward levels)
Loyalty Traveler October 13, 2009 – Hilton HHonors VIP Reward Changes and Category 7 Hotels
Loyalty Traveler December 17, 2009 – Confused by HHonors Hotel Category Changes Previewed in USA Today
Loyalty Traveler November 29, 2009 – Response to Hilton HHonors Jeff Diskin USA Today interview
I was busy earlier today tackling Hilton HHonors from another angle with my March InsideFlyer column.
My question is why did HHonors withhold the changes to hotel reward categories until the new levels went into effect?
Hilton did not provide an opportunity for members to see the extent of the category shift among the 3,500 Hilton brand hotels. Time to evaluate the category changes for specific hotels and a window to book reward stays prior to the devaluation would have just been common courtesy to HHonors members.
Priority Club Rewards Press Release
IHG’s Priority Club® REWARDS To “GIVE BACK” UP TO 400 Million LOYALTY POINTS in WORLDWIDE “luckiest loser” competition
IHG Offers Priority Club® Rewards Members a Chance to Recoup Points they “Lost” with the Recent Devaluation of HHonors® Points
Atlanta (Feb. 3, 2010) – IHG’s (InterContinental Hotels Group) Priority Club® Rewards, the world’s largest hotel loyalty program, today launches its worldwide “Luckiest Loser” competition. In response to the recent increases in the Hilton HHonors® hotel rewards rates, which effectively devalued HHonors members’ points by about 20 percent, Priority Club Rewards is offering consumers a chance to gain back their “lost” loyalty points. The Priority Club Rewards member who has the highest verified Hilton HHonors points balance will be the “Luckiest Loser” and gain two million Priority Club points; enough to redeem for about 80 free hotel nights at more than 4,000 of IHG’s hotels across the globe. Another 20,000 “Lucky Losers” will be awarded up to 400 million total Priority Club points to help compensate for what they are “losing” with Hilton HHonors.
“If you want your loyal customers to stick with you during tough times, it’s vital to show you appreciate them and give them more value, not less. So it’s no wonder there was such a negative reaction to Hilton devaluing their points program,” said Tom Seddon, chief marketing officer, IHG. “Some of our customers, particularly ones we’re talking to on social networking sites, asked us if there was anything we could do to help – so we’re offering to replace their lost Hilton HHonors points with Priority Club points, giving them the opportunity to stay for free at any one of our 4,400 hotels around the world.”
The current loyalty market is arguably as crowded and competitive as it has ever been, and savvy travelers are taking notice. In fact, during 2009, Priority Club Rewards members redeemed 10 percent more points than in 2008, making the most of new reward options such as Flights AnywhereTM and Points & Cash to maximize the value and versatility of their points for everything from travel expenses to everyday purchases such as gas, groceries and holiday gifts.
“We know from research that the value of loyalty points is paramount to members,” said Don Berg, vice president, Loyalty Programs, IHG. “Travelers depend on their rewards to help them cover the costs of their summer vacations and weekend-getaways, and they don’t expect their points to suddenly lose value overnight.”
To enter the competition, participants must also be registered Priority Club Rewards members as of Jan. 31, 2010 and follow the verification process.
– Simply supply their Hilton HHonors points balance at www.priorityclub.com/luckiestloser
– Each qualified participant will automatically get 1,000 Priority Club® points just for entering
– The top 20,000 “Lucky Losers” will each “gain back” up to 20 percent of their current HHonors balance in Priority Club points (up to 20,000 points each)
– The “Luckiest Loser” will win two million Priority Club points – enough to stay with IHG hotels for free for almost three months!
The competition will run through Feb. 28, and is exclusive to current members of both Priority Club Rewards and HHonors programs as of Jan. 31, 2010.
Loyalty Traveler commentary on HHonors
Two aspects of hotel loyalty programs appeal to frequent guests – hospitality and rewards.
Most hotels, particularly high-end hotels, cater to their most valued customers through added benefits during hotel stays. From the “paying for luxury” guest at a Four Seasons to the weekly visitor at a local Days Inn, hotel staff can make a guest feel special. That is what hospitality is all about in the hotel world.
When I spent over 100 nights a year in hotels on business travel I had little loyalty. I wasn’t paying the bills.
I make budget decisions everyday to get good value in business transactions. Hotel stays are a business transaction and hotel loyalty programs bind frequent guests and hotel chains in a win-win agreement beneficial to both.
I remember vividly one of my first hotel stays as a HHonors Gold member at the Doubletree Sonoma Wine Country and I was upgraded to a room with a spa tub big enough for four. Receiving elite status recognition and benefits when I traveled to new places and stayed in Hilton Hotels in South America and Europe provided a memorable travel experience, comfort, and security I desired. Hilton earned my loyalty. HHonors was my gateway to a better room, and frequently a better hotel experience than I would have received without loyalty program membership.
I expressed my loyalty by booking hotel rooms with Hilton Corporation, a hotel company I felt appreciated me. I stopped bouncing around from hotel to hotel seeking the best deal. Sometimes I even went out of my way to stay at a Hilton brand hotel despite similarly priced comparable hotels in better locations for my trip.
The other hotel loyalty program appeal is paid hotel stays earn rewards for free or discounted future stays. This is a prominent feature of points-based hotel loyalty programs for most of the major hotel chains.
Points are a rebate on the cost of hotel stays.
Points have potential cash value.
But points only have value when redeemed.