Hilton Testing Confirmed Suite Upgrades For Diamond Members

Filed Under: Hilton
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All things considered I’ve grown much fonder of the Hilton Honors program over the years. One downside to the program is their top tier elite recognition. While Honors Diamond status is easy to earn, they don’t do much to differentiate the status from mid-tier Gold status:

  • Hilton Honors Diamond members don’t receive guaranteed late check-out, but rather it’s subject to availability
  • Hilton Honors Diamond members don’t receive suite upgrades as a guaranteed benefit, either in advance or as a benefit subject to availability; rather hotels can upgrade Diamond members to suites if they want to, but don’t have to, even if they’re empty

We know that Hilton has been working on improving their Diamond benefits, and it looks like we’re finally seeing the first sign of that.

Hilton testing confirmed Diamond suite upgrades

Brendan Dorsey reports that Hilton is allegedly testing out confirmed Diamond suite upgrades. Here’s what we know so far:

  • As of now this is just in a test phase, with select “high value members” having been given a confirmed suite upgrade; the plan is for this to be extended to more members later this year
  • Those members in this pilot program have been given one confirmed suite upgrade that can be used to confirm an upgrade at the time of booking for a stay of up to seven nights
  • This confirmed suite upgrade is valid for both points stays and cash stays, so it works similarly to the World of Hyatt Globalist confirmed suite upgrades
  • The upgrade certificates in this pilot program have to be redeemed by March 2019, though can be used for a stay on a subsequent date, through March 2020

This is just a pilot program as of now, so they’ll decide what the suite upgrade benefit should look like in the future based on the feedback they get. So if they do end up following through with this, it could be that they issue suite upgrades valid on a per stay basis, or a per night basis, and it could be that other aspects of these change as well.

Regardless, it’s exciting that Hilton is trying this out… I think.

Downside to Hilton confirmed suite upgrades?

One of the reasons I think Hilton Honors is such a sweet spot for many of us is because of how awesome the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. This card has a $450 annual fee (Rates & Fees) and offers:

  • Hilton Honors Diamond status for as long as you have the card
  • An annual weekend night reward
  • A $250 Hilton resort credit every cardmember year
  • A $250 airline fee credit every calendar year

I value the two credits at more than the card’s $450 annual fee, so really they’re throwing in Diamond status and the annual weekend night reward for nothing, by my valuation. That’s pretty incredible.

So here’s the thing — if Hilton does introduce any sort of confirmed suite upgrades, I would expect that they’d only do so for members who earn the status the “hard” way (through elite qualifying nights, stays, or points)… and I wouldn’t blame them for that.

Still, when it comes to suite upgrades that would put those earning status through credit cards at a disadvantage. Like I said, I don’t think that’s unfair, but it’s also not necessarily good for everyone.

Or I could be wrong, and they’d offer these to all Diamond members, though that seems too good to be true.

Bottom line

It’s great to see Hilton catching up with the competition when it comes to suite upgrades, and I’m curious to see what kind of a benefit they eventually introduce. The fact that they seem to be considering suite upgrades at the time of booking rather than only confirming them a few days in advance is great.

However, if I were a betting man I’d assume that any confirmed suite upgrade benefit would be limited to those earning Diamond status the hard way, and not those earning it through credit cards.

What do you make of Hilton potentially introducing confirmed suite upgrades?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (Rates & Fees).

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Comments
  1. Why does it have to be one way or the other?
    Why not a hybrid model?
    i.e.) provide all diamonds small number of suite upgrade certs (1 or 2) and once you hit the required stays/nights to renew diamond status, provide a few additional ones.

  2. DCS before – “nothing is GUARANTEED, all these advance confirmation upgrade promises are WORTHLESS, I get upgraded EVERYWHERE already”

    DCS now – “Hilton again showing they are truly DYNAMIC, the best top tier just got BETTER, see I always said upgrades CAN be guaranteed”

  3. At Lucky persists in pushing a thoroughly debunked meme, even after there is no longer left a program to support it: “One downside to the program is their top tier elite recognition. While Honors Diamond status is easy to earn, they don’t do much to differentiate the status from mid-tier Gold status.”

    I just debunked s similar claim over at TPG so I will just cross-post some material here:

    First, there is no comparison between Diamond and Gold beyond the fact that they are both guaranteed free breakfast. In fact, it is that breakfast guarantee that started the meme of “no difference”: bloggers that started and perpetuated the claim overwhelmingly patronized SPG or HGP, programs in which the mid-tier status got no substantive benefits including breakfast, which made the HH Gold status stand well above the rest, leading to the meme that it was the same as HH Diamond. That is not even close for some of us Diamonds who know how to take advantage of our status!

    Second, I now get HH Diamond status through the Aspire card (although I still spent enough on revenue stays this past year to make Diamond on base points, as well as hit 60 nights for more perks), and here are the perks that I get as HH Diamond for spending just $450/year (items ending with [***] are Diamonds-only perks):

    — a huge footprint
    — elite rollover nights
    — guaranteed premium wifi ***
    — guaranteed free continental breakfast on the ‘continent’; FULL free breakfast almost everywhere else optionally in the restaurant, and not just in the Club or Executive lounge
    — guaranteed upgrade to the Executive floor where there is one [***]
    — unlimited complimentary suite upgrades based on availability [***].
    — late checkout with no time limit, based on availability [hint: request late checkout at check-in!]
    — put Diamond status on hold [***]
    — C+P awards ‘on steroids’, i.e., unlimited
    — a $250 resort credit [***]
    — a $250 airline credit [***]
    — no resort fee on award stays
    — “Diamond Force” when the chips are down [***]
    — 5th award night free
    — a free night certificate for use at ANY category hotel
    — an additional free night certificate for use at ANY category hotel after spending $60K [***]
    — 10K bonus points after reaching 40 nights, and…award nights count!
    — 10K bonus points every 10 nights after reaching 40 nights with NO CAP
    — 30K additional bonus points when one reaches 60 nights [***]
    — ability to gift Gold status at 60 nights and to gift Diamond at 100 nights [***]
    — ability to pool points with up to ten (10!) people; obviates need to transfer points.
    — Priority Pass lounge access.
    — industry-leading 14X for on-property spend paid with the Aspire [***]
    — 100% elite bonus points on base points [***]
    — and much, much more.

    And, guess what? We are to believe that the status that one gets for “just” $450 and offers the long list of truly compelling perks just provided has “weak” benefits. Yeah, right, ONLY in the “Twilight Zone” that is travel blogosphere and its ‘priesthood’ of self-anointed travel gurus.

  4. @Tommy Trash sez: “I think DCS just made a mess in his trousers.”

    I am not quite sure how you mean that, but I might disappoint you. This is my take on the prospect of oxymoronically called ‘confirmed’ suite upgrades becoming a HH Diamond perk.

    It would be a big mistake because there is no advantage whatsoever to so-called “confirmed” suite upgrades. Every single elite suite upgrade type (complimentary, Hyatt’s confirmable suite upgrades, and Marriott’s Suite Night Awards) depend on AVAILABILITY, whether at booking or at check-in. Which is why calling any kind of suite upgrade “confirmed” is totally mindless if it depends on availability. The only reason to offer so-called confirmable perks is to limit them. So, Hilton will award confirmable suite upgrades that would be good only for up to 7 nights and will likely also be limited in the number that they award each year, when their traditional complimentary suite upgrades have no stay-length limit and are unlimited in number (i.e., there is no limit to how many a Diamond can clear a year as long as they are available).

    Marriott’s SNAs, holdovers from SPG, are useless, and Hyatt globalist upgrades do not have a higher clearance rate than HH’s standard complimentary upgrades. Thus, what are so-called ‘confirmed’ upgrades good for other than to restrict the length of stays in a suite?

    Thanks, but no thanks!

    Bottom line: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Claims of “guaranteed” suite upgrades are without a doubt what turned SPG elites into the most spoiled, insufferable elites of any hotel loyalty program. Glad to see that Marriott has pretty much decided to stop trying to appease them. Last thing Hilton wants to do is to create a class of entitled elites by making them believe that they are “guaranteed” suite upgrades. It is a can of worms Hilton Honors should not open. Ever.

  5. @UA-NYC – Sorry to disappoint you. Speaking of intellectual consistency and honesty, I just provided you with a healthy dose of it. 😉

    G’day!

  6. I skip reading DCS, because it all says the same thing: “I have a formula to prove why I am better than other people”.

  7. I love how DCS makes a list of how much better Diamond is than Gold, but adds at least three things that are specific to the Aspire card (i.e. only Diamonds who have the Aspire card get those benefits).

    When you have to bulk out your list with credit card perks, it really doesn’t help the argument.

  8. @Mike — I knew we would agree on something. I agree with your comment. It remains that Diamond status through the Aspire card is as real as are the associated perks, and, furthermore, some of us will often likely qualify for Diamond the ‘hard way’, in addition to having it through the Aspire, and will ALL the benefits and not selectively. The perks are there however you meet the requirement for status. Golds, which everyone is thanks to a credit card, don’t have have the perks, which are thus a differentiating feature.

    Even removing the Aspire benefits, Diamond==Gold would be a valid equality only if free breakfast is the only perk that turns you on. It was, as I stated, the benefit that started the Diamond==Gold meme, because the other program mid-tier elite status was so insignificant relative to HH Gold:

    — Suite upgrades, one of the top perks , is not stated Golds benefit.
    — Executive lounge access for Golds is contingent upon their being upgraded to the exec floor, which is not guaranteed.
    — Only Diamonds are guaranteed premium wifi
    — Diamond earn a lot more points per spend than Golds
    — There is ‘Diamond Force’, when chip are down
    — Importantly, elite recognition all around is simply much better when one is a Diamond than when one is Gold. Really.

    Above I disqualified so-called ‘confirmed’ suite upgrades, and I have never been denied a late checkout request in almost 10 years straight as a HH Diamond. So, what do elites in other programs have the makes their benefits better (I am not talking about made up claims. like guaranteed suite upgrades a la SPG elites when there was never such a guarantee)? Nada.

  9. BTW, these are also non-Aspire Diamond benefits:

    — put Diamond status on hold [***]
    — 30K additional bonus points when one reaches 60 nights [***]
    — ability to gift Gold status at 60 nights and to gift Diamond at 100 nights [***]
    — 100% elite bonus points on base points [***]

    Q.E.D

  10. I actually like DCS’s posts. I think a lot of points make sense, and many of the benefits we choose to value or ignore are largely based on perception. Hilton Honors is an often undervalued and unfairly maligned program.

    My only problem is DCS’s complete dismissal of any innate value that receiving advanced knowledge of a suite upgrade can have.

    Sure, nothing is guaranteed. We all get that. But those who can at least know about a suite upgrade in advance, with some considerably greater level of certainty, will certainly be able to plan around it better. At the very least, that level of certainty on an upgrade generates goodwill, delight and a longer period of excitement for members.

    Perhaps DCS’s upgrade rate is so good that it’s tantamount to an advanced confirmed upgrade every time, so he no longer cares. For the rest of us, those upgrade instruments provide some tangible level of predetermined assurance and therefore they hold value.

  11. But still, a CONFIRMED suite upgrade prior to booking has the advantage over an upgrade at check in that you actually KNOW you get a suite upgrade at time of booking. In advance.
    Not that hard to grasp, is it, DCS?

  12. Lars K: it has ALWAYS been that hard to grasp for him.
    My money on him finally magically grasping it now that it applies to HH

  13. I am on the way to LTP with SPG, also have Aspire card but limited stays with Hilton. I am also amused by the DCS vs. the world scenario. Seems like DCS is part of a small # of HH supporters on this blog.
    I have to say DCS actually gives a lots, lengthy arguments for his points. Most of his debunkers’ posts consists of short statements not up to par with his on substance or volume, even if both sides are simply making things up, just like in another arena – I hate DCS because he is DCS.

  14. @ ktc – No, people don’t dislike DCS just because they hate healthy debate or the Hilton program. They dislike him because of the smugness and inflated sense of superiority that comes across in his posts and, when dissenters persist, the mindless insults he slings at other commenters. Take away the facade DCS has cultivated of the wise academic and he is hardly better than a run-of-the-mill troll.

  15. @ktc: “I have to say DCS actually gives a lots, lengthy arguments for his points. Most of his debunkers’ posts consists of short statements not up to par with his on substance or volume, even if both sides are simply making things up, just like in another arena – I hate DCS because he is DCS.”

    There are plenty of instances where I or others have rebutted DCS posts with something substantial (and factual). These, without exception, are dismissed by DCS as being completely incorrect – the terms ‘fact-free’ and ‘dissertation’ are often used by him for these posts – even though he will also claim that he doesn’t read them.

    I’d suggest that you use more than a sample size of one before you draw conclusions about him (or anyone posting here on any regular basis).

  16. As a lifetime Diamond who earned it the hard way I can count only one hand the number of times I have received any upgrades to a suite

  17. @CF Frost – I am sure you were expecting suite upgrades to just be offered to you proactively, but that is not how the game is played, so you have no one but yourself to blame. I have to use two hands to count the number of SUITE upgrades I received just in 2018 alone.

  18. @CF Frost – you have to do the DCS way – carry a laminated copy of the Hilton T&Cs and wave it in the FDC’s face when you don’t get your upgrade (as most Diamonds staying in US hotels seem to report)

    Of course, easy to get one in Pattaya when one is in, well, Pattaya…

  19. I had earned diamond status by staying at Hiltons. It was ok, it was still hard to get upgraded to suites or better rooms. Although I did get my ass kissed more. I am now gold through cc and its good for the free breakfast and the little things like water.

  20. UA-NYC — Do you ever give up trolling? I’d hoped that with the demise of SPG you’d go away or at least rise and smell the coffee, but you’re still just obtuse as ever, albeit with some moderation, which has been a welcome change. Would be great if would simply disappear altogether or just stay at FT where trolls, impervious to evidence or common sense, belong …

    My suite upgrade success rate has been just as high in the US, and I have said this 1000 times: being “pushy” in requesting suite upgrades at check-in, which SPG elites who thought they were ‘entitled’ to them did routinely, is precisely the wrong thing to do.

  21. I am “Lifetime Diamond” and earned it the hard way–by living at Hiltons for years. I get suite upgrades at places like Hilton Garden Inn but seldom at Hiltons! I am very disappointed I was not picked for the pilot program!!!

  22. We should just accept that DCS loves his beloved HH program and will defend it like a momma bear would her cubs. Others love other programs and do the same. To each his own. I find that some of DCS’s information is helpful for Hilton stays. Same for those who point out otherwise. So thank you, everyone, for the balanced information.

  23. DCS is to Hilton as Baghdad Bob is to Iraq. He will only ever praise Hilton and criticize any other programs (despite endless evidence to the contrary for both). There is no point trying to have a rational conversation with an irrational being.

  24. @Jen sez: “Others love other programs and do the same.”

    Spot on in revealing the dishonesty of @UA-NYC, a certified troll who used to throw fits and disparage other programs whenever anyone dared to say anything unflattering about his now dead and buried SPG, and is accusing me of exactly the same offense.

  25. @chancer & @Mike : you could be all correct, but I was just based on what i saw on this particular piece of blog. I am not planning on reading the back history of DCS’ posts.

    It’s interesting, at the present, there are 32 comments. Only 5 short comments that did not have any mentioning of DCS at all. In the rest of 27 comments, there are 39 references of DCS (either by himself or other posters). – sorry just made that worse.

    Lucky, he is referenced exactly ONCE in these comments by you know who. Nobody had anything for him.

    Good night to all. What a amusing evening.

  26. Even though I am a Diamond, Hilton only gave cold breakfast (not the buffet)& only for 2 ppl, no late checkout, $27/day parking fee, no upgrade to next better room unless forking over $25/night etc. last time I checked into their Big Island Hawaii Koala property.

  27. So you think it makes sense to first give away top tier status for having a credit card or taking advantage of a quick status challenge, and then restricting some of the benefits to those who earned the status the hard way? How stupid is that… Perhaps HH should think about introducing a tier above Diamond and devaluing the current Gold and Diamond benefits. The number of elites is just too high

  28. So far out of 11 stays in Asia as a hilton diamond, I’ve had a suite upgrade 8 times. So, in my experience, suite upgrades are relatively easy to get as a Diamond and rather good. I do tend to ask for suite upgrade if not given and I’ve had better success by checking in through the executive lounge.

  29. DCS continues to not understand the fact that having a 4pm guaranteed checkout (as everyone besides Hilton has) is a floor, not a ceiling…one of many ways (for the newcomers) that he is intellectually dishonest

  30. Please do not try to patronize me. I understand fully and contrary to yet another made-up claim, a guaranteed 4pm checkout is NOT a floor. It is the absolute latest time by which you need to check out.

    So, you like your “guaranteed” 4pm late checkouts, that is your prerogative, but it is also my prerogative not to like them, because I believe the only reason for a program to ‘guarantee’ a perk is to limit it. Why would I limit my late checkout option to 4pm, when without the “guarantee’ I have had late checkout requests for as late as 6pm approved? With the 4pm ‘guarantee’ in place, a request for anything beyond that would be easily denied: “Sorry, but the late checkout guarantee is only to 4pm. G’day.”)

  31. What a tool. I have had more past-4PM checkouts with Starwood and later Marriott than I can count. Once you get 4pm, an hour or two or three more often isn’t a big deal.

    Meanwhile endless reports of HH diamonds begging for even 1-2pm and getting flack. Because of course there are no starting place guarantees.

    What a warped word DCS lives in.

  32. You are lying. An hour or two is a big deal to properties because you would be tying up a room that needs to be serviced to let in the next occupant in and earn money.

    The way HH does it is the business smart way, and despite my having said ad nauseam that I have never been denied a single late checkout request in nearly 10 years, you keep going on and on about the HH policy, which actually does a great managing expectations like nearly all HH policies. I have also said this before: I do not rank late checkout very high among elite perks. More to the point, it, like so-called ‘confirmed’ upgrades, matters only because of completely made-up standards of excellence peddled by self-anointed travel gurus — toxic kool-aid that weak minds like yours imbibe and turn into dogma that you regurgitate mindlessly. The made-up standards that purportedly set SPG a cut above the rest did not keep it from going belly up. It’s dead; get used to dealing with Marriott’s no-nonsense management.

    It was mistake to address you again. The soapbox is yours; knock yourself out with more self-delusional tales.

  33. I’m so confused.

    Hilton can consistently give out 6 pm late out but if UA-NYC gets a 6 pm late checkout at a Starwood/Marriott, he is lying? Is there no low to which UA-NYC will not fall? How dare he. how dare he obtain similar benefits as DCS does at Hilton.

    Own data point: Hiltons consistently deny late checkout of even 2 pm if they are fully sold out or even if they need your specific room category but are otherwise half empty (can happen if you are in a suite).

    Marriott (and SPG), I can’t remember ever having an issue with 4 pm late checkout (Especially with SPG). 5 and 6 pm have never been a problem either subject to both availability and hotel discretion.

    DCS has a very personal bone in this fight which is why he misleads even other Hilton members.

    Right now, if he’s honest about his experience, he has some internal recognition that puts him above the rest. If confirmable suite night awards were made a reality, people would confirm (yes confirm, c-o-n-f-i-r-m) suites at Christmas etc, making it harder for people like him to get his constant upgrades subject to a-v-a-i-l-a-b-i-l-i-t-y because availability right NOW (booking time) for Christmas is not the same as availability on December 25 (check in time).

    He just doesn’t want the rest of the Hilton Diamonds on the same playing field as him. It benefits him if Hilton becomes a stronger company by bulging its ranks of elites (which it shows as a product to their true customers, hotel owners). It further benefits him if all these elites constantly remain a rung below him. Confirmed benefits levels the playing field.

  34. @ktc: “you could be all correct, but I was just based on what i saw on this particular piece of blog. I am not planning on reading the back history of DCS’ posts.”

    I suppose you could just keep reading the comments on this post, because they’re pretty much telling the other part of the story at this point.

  35. You mean the “other part of the story” in which I get things “right” because I doe not subscribe to the dubious ‘wisdom’ peddled by self-anointed travel ‘gurus’, who should by now have no credibility as every single one of their predictions/claims/contentions has turned out to be bogus or pure bunk or exposed to be such by the unbiased lens of time and history?

  36. @SCF sez: “I’m so confused.”

    You certainly are!

    Hint: When a benefit is guaranteed in writing, like “late checkout is up to 4pm”, it makes it easier for a program to deny a request that tries to go beyond the written terms (“Sorry. The guarantee is only to 4pm”). Hilton Honors, on the other hand, has no limit to how late a late checkout request can be. I’ve gotten late checkout for 4,5,6pm. The key to my success, I think, is that I request late checkouts when I check in because that gives a property the time to work on accommodating me. By contrast, programs that ‘guarantee’ a late checkout do have a time limit, which usually quite inflexible unless there is damned good reason.

    So, your troll was lying, as he usually does, especially with the claim that he’s gotten many 6pm late checkouts under Marriott. Yeah, right.

    Got it now?

    I am done here.

    G’day.

  37. What’s more likely:
    1. Extending a 4pm check-out to 6pm
    2. Extending a 12pm check-out to 6pm

    Any *rational* person who reads these blogs would say 1.

    DCS at this point is more intellectually dishonest than 45. Their similar bloviating and inability/refusal to see the other side are insanely uncanny.

  38. Hey, Stoopid: One.Last.Time – What makes it more difficult is the stupid written “guarantee” that you have been conned into believing is the highest standard for benefits. Any property manager is armed with it and will rub it your face while denying you your request to check out beyond the “”guaranteed” time. Simple logic. Got it now!!!

  39. When being denied 1 or 2 pm checkout at Hiltons, they were denied on the basis of the fact that Hilton too has a guaranteed checkout time – at 12. If there is a need for your room, no Hilton manager will give you a late checkout. There is nothing compelling them.

    What is 1200 at Hilton is 1600 at Marriott non-resorts and non-conference hotels. Simple

    Who really believes you anyway when you claim you’re done. Over the past several years, if there is one constant, its that you will always return, in the same thread.

  40. Garbage — 12pm is the standard checkout time. HH late checkout needs to be requested, has no time limit, depends on availability, therefore, it cannot be denied “on the basis of the fact that Hilton too has a guaranteed checkout time – at 12”. I suggest playing the game with a “full deck”, and try requesting late checkout when you check in…

    ‘Whenever I think I am out, they pull me back in’…but now I’ve got a train to catch.

    G’day.

  41. Am I the only one who thinks premium WiFi should be included in so-called business hotels in 2019?
    As for breakfast – I would rather go out and get something fresh plus a drink from a local bakery or cafe than pay the ridiculous prices of the chain hotels.

  42. What a dizzying thread! After 14 years as an SPG Plat (now Marriott LT Premier Plat), and a happy HH Gold in the 90’s, and yes, I did get suites as a HH Gold back in the day and consistently throughout my SPG years. I am now using the Aspire Card to segue my business over to Hilton with a soft landing as a Diamond because Marriott is proving to be a difficult partner.

    Hotels are usually privately owned and pay for the flag, management, brand recognition and marketing tools. That being said each property’s definition of program rules and how they choose , or choose not to apply them are different. It’s NOT supposed to be that way but the hotel biz is not McDonalds where the burger and fries are identical any place in the world. And YES, I have gotten Suites by promising to check out by a negotiated time the next day because someone is paying $1000.00 for the next night….totally fair!

    Last, What I have learned from years of top tier hotel program membership: “Don’t ask, Don’t get!” and “ask nicely, get more”.

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