Hilton HHonors Fall 2016 Hotel Category Changes

Filed Under: Hilton, Hotels

As of April 2014, Hilton HHonors has shifted how they make award category changes. Rather than having massive hotel category adjustments every so often, they’re doing quarterly adjustments. That’s to say that they’re not changing the number of points required for each category every quarter, but rather are shifting which hotels belong in which categories.

Ultimately I favor anything that isn’t an award chart massacre like what we saw with HHonors in early 2013, so I guess that’s a good thing overall. After all, we haven’t seen any sort of major award chart devaluation since then.

HHonors hotel category changes as of October 12, 2016

Rather than emailing members when there’s a big award chart change, Hilton has a website where they list the category changes. That website has just been updated to reflect the Hilton family properties changing HHonors award category this fall, which will kick in for bookings made as of October 12, 2016.

21 hotels will be going up in price:

hilton-changes-3 hilton-changes-4

Meanwhile 33 hotels will be going down in price:

hilton-changes-1 hilton-changes-2

Hilton has over 4,500 properties around the world, so we’re seeing the price of a little over 1% of properties changing, which isn’t a whole lot. Net we’re looking at a decrease in price at 12 hotels, given that 33 hotels are going down in price while 21 are going up in price.

That being said, I suspect for most people looking to redeem points, the hotels going up in price are more significant. We’re seeing the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem and Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh go up in price, as well as over a dozen hotels in the US.

The Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem will soon require more points

Meanwhile we’re seeing the price of 26 hotels in Turkey go down, which comes as no surprise.

The Hilton Garden Inn Istanbul Airport will require fewer points soon

So if you want to book one of the properties going up in price, be sure to do so by October 12, 2016 — it’s okay if the stay is for a subsequent date. Meanwhile for a stay going down in price you’ll want to ideally wait, or otherwise lock it in now and then try to rebook after the change.

Why Hilton’s hotel category changes don’t even matter

First of all, Hilton’s category changes aren’t really significant since only a bit over 1% of properties are changing in price.

But more importantly, they don’t really matter since the Hilton HHonors program is already sort of kind of revenue based. I explained the logic in a post last April entitled “Here’s Why Hilton HHonors Has Variable Award Pricing Within Each Category.”


Within Categories 4-10 there’s a huge variance in the per night cost of a stay, depending on seasonality/demand. In other words, hotels are pretty easily able to “silently” raise award costs significantly without it being published as part of a category change.

The cost of a Category 4 property can increase by 50% without any award chart changes. The cost of a Category 7 property can increase by 100% without any award chart changes. The cost of a Category 9 property can increase by 60% without any award chart changes.

That’s not my preferred way for programs to operate, since it makes aspirational/expensive properties disproportionately expensive. But I also can’t fault Hilton for choosing to run their program that way. In some cases the loyalty program has to compensate the hotel for points redemptions based on the actual rate, so why shouldn’t the cost of redemptions reflect that? Again, that’s not the most rewarding system for those who like aspirational redemptions, but it also means some members aren’t subsidizing others’ redemptions.

Bottom line

54 Hilton properties are changing categories, which represents a bit more than 1% of Hilton’s portfolio. Ultimately that’s not something to be worried about. I’d be much more concerned about hotels changing costs within a category, which is something we can’t easily keep track of.

All around I’ve been extremely pleased with Hilton HHonors for the past couple of years, though. They really stepped it up in 2015 in terms of their promotions, which is something HHonors members should be happy about. I also status matched to Hilton Diamond last year, thanks to the generous promotion they were offering.

Have you redeemed points at any of the 54 Hilton-family properties that are changing categories?

  1. 26 of the properties decreasing category are in Turkey. I must say my European friends are going to Turkey and enjoying the great deals that are available right now.

  2. They are finally closing up the gaps of cheap redemptions outside of major cities. The Doubletree Vancouver Wa, was a good value and it sucks its going up. I’m waiting for them to increase the 10K Hampton Inn outside of St Louis, and the 10K Hampton Inn in Fall River, MA, kind of surprised it hasn’t happened yet.

  3. Hilton’s category changes are a reminder of:

    1. Turkey’s engagement with Islamic fundamentalism and the damage it’s doing to their nation and economy.

    2. Miami’s tourism downturn due to our US Government’s idiocy in doing something about Zika like a vaccine or treatment. Spraying chemicals is only going to do so much.

  4. Looks like there will be some opportunities for value in Miami Beach, but Portland and SFO lose some more affordable airport options?

  5. @Lucky cuts and pastes, likely for the 1000th, although the claim completely misses the point and tries to make the wrong one: “Ultimately I favor anything that isn’t an award chart massacre like what we saw with HHonors in early 2013.”

    That is yet another canard that keeps getting repeated but fails to inform.

    Simple question, really simple: If HHonors had “massacred” their award chart back in 2013, and in 2016 Hyatt GP and Marriott Rewards awards cost almost exactly the same as Hilton HHonors’, what does that tell you about HHonors’ purportedly “thermonuclear devaluation” of 2013 that bloggers keep repeating in their echo chamber?

    You are aware, of course, that HHonors, HGP and MR awards are currently similarly priced, while SPG’s are about an order of magnitude more expensive…or are you?


  6. Stayed at the Waldorf Edinburgh a few weeks ago. It’s a great location, but other than that, not so great. They offered nothing as far as Diamond perks not even a room with a view. No lounge. The Waldorf in London offers an upgraded room, free breakfast, afternoon tea and happy hour to Diamonds or at least it did a few years ago. I’m glad it increased in category so I won’t be tempted to stay (for 5 nights free) again. Yeah, it was pretty nice for a free stay, but I want my Diamond breakfast too.

  7. “But more importantly, they don’t really matter since the Hilton HHonors program is already sort of kind of revenue based.”

    Of course they matter. Even if the rates fluctuate, the category gives a maximum. So a hotel that used to be category 7 could formerly go up to 60,000 points, and now that it’s category 6 it’s 50,000 maximum. That’s significant

  8. “Simple question, really simple: If HHonors had “massacred” their award chart back in 2013, and in 2016 Hyatt GP and Marriott Rewards awards cost almost exactly the same as Hilton HHonors’, what does that tell you about HHonors’ purportedly “thermonuclear devaluation” of 2013 that bloggers keep repeating in their echo chamber?”

    Ummm… That Hilton devalued their program three years earlier than necessary?

  9. Staying at the doubletree Beijing right now. It’s really showing it’s age with moldy smelly room, dirty carpet, stained bathtub, etc. I’ve been coming here a few years and was just thinking not going to use them any more if they don’t do a major renovation. The cat increase doesn’t make sense to me at all, even if the service is great.

  10. Van Buren AR (right outside Fort Smith), Farmington NM – still very good 10k properties for our cross country road trips from Utah. Glad they stay relatively cheap for a while longer.

  11. I find HHonors to be the most useless of all the reward programs out there – airline or hotels. The arbitrary award levels, the lack of availability and the high number of points needed for even an average property mean that I can rarely take advantage of it. And some cash booking don’t even attract points if they are discounted.

    They give away 75,000 points with their Citi credit card but the reality is that number inflates the value and utility. For instance, change them for Avios and it’s just 7,500 Avios miles.

  12. HDishonors all of us!
    Hilton (0.3cents/point value) makes Delta Skypesos (1.1 cents/point) look good and that says a lot.

  13. @Joe — Try something like “in 2013 HHonors awards got so ridiculous cheap that the most that a ‘devaluation’ that purportedly ‘massacred’ program’s award chart could accomplish was to make the awards as ‘expensive’ as those of their competitors, HGP and MR”.

    If travel bloggers did their homework, they would have known that Hilton’s 2013 “devaluation’ that they keep referring to was part of a company-wide overhaul by its Blackstone-handpicked visionary CEO, Chris Nassetta, to turn around a grossly under-performing hospitality giant.

    [the sources for the following can be googled by just typing in a big chunk on any of the statements]

    “Hilton Worldwide CEO Christopher Nassetta told potential investors during its IPO roadshow that the chain was a “totally dysfunctional organization” prior to Blackstone’s 2007 acquisition…. [H]ilton had “ceded” its hotel industry leadership position, its growth rate was “average” and almost entirely U.S.-based, but it still had good brands, although there were plenty of holes in them to fill.”

    ” Since taking the reins, Nassetta executed his plan to re-energize Hilton’s iconic brand. Out of the depths of the Great Recession, he has streamlined operations, expanded the company’s international footprint, moved its headquarters from California to McLean and transformed Hilton into the largest hotelier in the world.


    “Nassetta’s relentless quest for perfection led to a $2.35 billion initial public offering in December 2013 that netted its parent private equity firm, The Blackstone Group, $12 billion. It was the hospitality industry’s largest-ever public market debut, and Businessweek called it “the best leveraged buyout ever.””

    — A NEW AGE
    “Now a year after the IPO, Hilton has emerged a transformed company and in many ways is cementing its status as industry leader. For the first three quarters of 2014, revenue was up 8 percent to $7.67 billion, while profit grew 32 percent to $515 million.”

    — CEO of the Year 2014: Chris Nassetta
    In 2014, a year after the “thermonuclear devaluation”, Christopher J. Nassetta, Hilton’s visionary CEO, was named “Turnaround CEO of the Year”. Imagine that? He was supposed to have “gutted” Hilton and HHonors in 2013, or so travel bloggers kept telling us!!!

    ” Meanwhile, [in 2014] the number of customers in Hilton HHonors Members — the company’s loyalty rewards program — has doubled to ** 42 million **.”

    “The program [HHonors] provides targeted marketing, promotions and customized guest experiences
    to approximately ** 51 million ** members.” — Hilton Worldwide 2015 SEC Filing 10K Annual Report.

    HHonors grew tremendously even though travel bloggers had predicted the program’s demise as a result of its 2013 “thermonuclear devaluation” 😉

    Like I said, the canard about Hilton’s 2013 “thermonuclear devaluation” that’s been repeated ad nauseam by travel bloggers, not only misses the points while making one that’s completely wrong, it also fails to inform. Now you know why: the claim itself is and has always been uninformed.

    The “thermonuclear devaluation” took HHonors awards, which got ridiculously cheap, and made them similar to those of their competitors, resulting in a competitive loyalty program that was positioned to become as vibrant as the rest of the company is today.

    BTW, what United’s CEO, Oscar Munoz, is doing to try to turn UA around is very reminiscent of what Chris Nassetta did to turn Hilton around. I like Munoz’s chances of success…


  14. @Martin — Every claim you made is wrong — likely due to reading too many travel blogs uncritically. So, how could you possibly get anything positive out of your HHonors experience, when you are so clueless about the program?

  15. DCS, not at all, my views are all based on actual personal experience. In fact I haven’t read much about different hotel programs so I suppose it’s just possible that the others are all as bad, or even worse.

  16. @Martin — Let’s unwrap your claims, one at a time.

    1. Arbitrary award levels: I am not even sure what that means, if anything at all, but the the award chart is published like any other program’s so it’s no “arbitrary”. And, as @Lucky correctly pointed out, HHonors is as close to being a revenue-based system as any hotel program, which explains the “seasonal” award chart. So, there is actually method in those award levels.

    2. the lack of availability: Like I said, you are clueless about the program. With properties in every corner of the US, and expanding faster around the world than any other hospitality company (look it up), lack of award availability is NOT something that anyone who knows anything about the program can claim about HHonors.

    3. the high number of points needed for even an average property mean that I can rarely take advantage of it: Wrong again. Hilton awards require as many points as Hyatt GP’s or Marriott Rewards’ in their own denominations. HHonors offers better to best value than any other program but IHG and Club Carlson at average to lower-end properties (ask @Gary Leff who also did the trivial math).

    4. And some cash booking don’t even attract points if they are discounted: Wrong again. What you are referring to is when you book through a non-eligible or “opaque” third-party channels, like Priceline, but you are told up front that you won’t get any points if you did that [I believe that other programs have a similar rule]! What you need to do is to “Stop Clicking Around” and EVERY cash booking would earn points! 😉

    BTW, airlines do have fare classes that earn no points even if they cost money, you do know that, right?

    Lastly, learn about the relative value of points and you would have a better grasp of what 75K HH points can do for your because they are worth about the same as 25K HGP points, which no one would sneeze at…

  17. Arbitrary: A Category 7 hotel does not cost 30,000 points. A category 7 hotel does not cost 60,000 points. A category 7 hotel costs an arbitrary amount of points between 30,000 and 60,000. Trying to nail it down as “seasonal” doesn’t change that. Nowhere does the chart specify Seasons or dates where specific categories will be at the low end or the high end. If it is methodical without exactness, it’s still arbitrary.

    I have 90000 Hilton points, does that mean I can get a Highest Category (Category 10) hotel with a standard room available? No. (Arbitrary)
    I have 30000 Hyatt points, does that mean I can get a Highest Category (Category 7) hotel with a standard room available? Yes. (Not Arbitrary)

    May I add: Duh.

    Of course category changes, devaluations, and other circumstances could mean every hotel has arbitrary rewards, but we’re talking about what you can do today.

    Bravo on your other response, BTW. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were Chris Nassetta himself, proudly explaining what you’ve done for Hilton in the third person.

    We’re all here talking about loyalty programs and how to maximize value, and you’re touting the turnaround of Hilton profitability. I just don’t think you realize how much NOBODY here gives two s**ts about Hilton’s or any hotel chains’ success beyond how it affects their loyalty program. And Hilton’s upturn doesn’t seem to have put HHonors at any advantage over the others. Based on what you’re saying, it actually put it at less of an advantage… if they had cheaper awards than the other chains and now they’re all essentially the same, that sucks for the customers.

    We’re customers, not employees or managers or owners.

    Giving customers too much is irresponsible on the part of the hotel — that kind of logic doesn’t belong in a travel forum, it belongs in a management seminar.

    That is why Lucky and TPG and other bloggers prefer Hyatt over Hilton.
    That is why pretty much nobody here enjoys your company.


  18. @Joe — It’s a revenue-based system and SEASONAL, so you are given an award chart to allow you to plan accordingly. You would perhaps prefer to have the lowest rate throughout the year, which is why you are ranting, but the charts do tell you what to expect in terms of minimum and maximum number of points you’ll need for each category. In fact, that’s even better than what they do with the rates in cash, which fluctuate all the time and seasonally, can be marked up by much as 100% or more in very high demand and no one gives you a heads-up. How’s that for “arbitrary”? Bitch about that too for consistency…

    Lastly and contrary to your myopic view, loyalty programs reflect the health of their parent companies. HHonors has been highly rewarding since Hilton’s turnaround engineered by Blackstone/Nassetta that culminated in 2013, and included their “thermonuclear devaluation” as an integral part. By contrast Starwood collapsed and so has SPG, leaving their members homeless and heartbroken. There is a very profound lesson in there that I hope you and others who do not give “two s**ts about Hilton’s or any hotel chains’ success beyond how it affects their loyalty program” can learn, because such a myopic view is a clear sign of “mental fog.”

    BTW, note that is also in 2013 that HHonors introduced their current award chart, which they have not touched since, and have simply been reassigning at most 2% of their hotels to different categories each time they made changes, which is preferable to across-the-board, wholesale award chart “massacring.”


  19. @DCS. For a supposed professor, you really show your stupidity. Now go back yo your room. Who has timebto write all that?

  20. @JR — Typically, stupid people throw around puerile insults without any rhyme or reason, and thay are also usually lazy [“Who has timebto write all that?”]. I wrote all of that effortlessly, you moron!
    How I truly envy you for being so completely free of the “ravages” of intelligence. [I just insulted you after explaining why].

  21. DCS, why are you being so rude to anyone who criticizes the HH program here. From what I see your counter-points are 100% false and your tone indicates that you have an irrational love of what is a very mediocer program.

    I’ve even been offered two prices for the same room via HH – the cheaper one coming with no points. I get a much better deal with one night free for every 10 stays via hotels.com, and that gives me a choice of all hotel brands – Hilton often doesn’t have the right product, location or price for me in any given city.

    HH may be no worse than other hotel programs, but all that tells us is that they are all fairly crap

  22. @Martin sez: “why are you being so rude to anyone who criticizes the HH program here.

    Long story short: My “debut” here occurred just under 2 years ago when I bumped into this site doing an online search. I’d reached “old” blogpost that was so full of false claims about Hilton and HHonors, I was horrified and vowed to set the record straight. Not only that, it also became clear that Hyatt GP and SPG were being erroneously elevated on pedestals built by knocking down other programs, but especially HHonors, so I began setting the record straight on that as well. Because I was challenging what had passed for travel blogoshpere dogma, feathers got and have continued to be ruffled. You ruffle too many feathers, you’ll become a target. An example is @JR above who came out of the blue and called me stupid, so I hit back because I can give it just as good.

    I hope that answered you question, but I am not going to continue addressing further is this: “From what I see your counter-points are 100% false and your tone indicates that you have an irrational love of what is a very mediocer program.” You are clearly clueless and I will get drawn into an endless and nonsensical “debate” about things that are not debatable because anyone knows that Hilton has no rates that do not earn points. In fact, one earns points even on award stays if one spends any money at all on the property. HHonors has a fairly successful ad campaign aimed precisely at trying to encourage people to book directly through their website themed “Stop Clicking Around.” Find out about it and you’ll understand why it makes business sense, including why they do not reward people who book cheap stays through third party channels. I suggest you keep going to “hotels.com” since HH is a very “mediocer” [sic] program anyway.

    You got angry because you were wrong and got correct. The next thing you’ll do is insult me and then I will insult you back and I won’t stop at “clueless”.


  23. DCS, sorry but you come across as way too emotional to have a rational debate with. Every statement I made is backed up with real-life experience but, no, I’m not going to document it for you. The fact that everyone on this blog takes the opposite view to you should be a clue.

    Now, you might just be correct that other hotel programs are worse. I am not a member of any others and, as noted previously, have no real desire to feel locked into any one chain.

    Even so I fail to see you are so vested in being “right” about this, and certainly don’t understand what in your past life led you to believe that insulting others was persuasive.

    As far as I can see, on this thread, you are out-voted about ten to one. I’ll take those odds

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