Hilton Diamond Suite Upgrades: Interesting Change To Terms

I’ve spent a fair bit of time lately talking about the intricacies of Marriott’s new Platinum upgrade policy. Specifically, Marriott said they’d be adopting Starwood’s Platinum upgrade policy, when in fact the terms suggested that they were maintaining Marriott’s Platinum upgrade policy. Those terms have since been updated.

While we’re talking about the nitty-gritty of top tier elite upgrades, it’s interesting to note that Hilton Honors has subtly changed their Diamond suite upgrade terms within the past month. Personally I wouldn’t read too much into this, since I haven’t heard of anything changing on a hotel level, though I do think it’s nonetheless interesting to note.

Here are part of the old Hilton Diamond upgrade terms (bolding mine):

At Waldorf Astoria® Hotels & Resorts, Conrad® Hotels & Resorts, Canopy™ by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Curio – A Collection by Hilton and DoubleTree by Hilton™ and Tapestry Collection by Hilton™ properties, Diamond Hilton Honors Members will receive upgrades to preferred rooms, based on availability at the time of arrival. Upgrades for Diamond Hilton Honors Members may include upgrades up to “junior”, “standard” or “one-bedroom” suites. Upgrades may also be rooms with desirable views, corner rooms, rooms on high floors, rooms with special amenities or rooms on Executive Floors Upgrades.

And here are the revised terms (again, bolding mine):

Diamond Elite Members will receive the following during stays as a registered Diamond Elite Member: At Waldorf Astoria® Hotels & Resorts, Conrad® Hotels & Resorts, Canopy™ by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Curio – A Collection by Hilton and DoubleTree by Hilton™ and Tapestry Collection by Hilton™ properties, Diamond Hilton Honors Members may receive upgrades to preferred rooms, based on availability at the time of arrival. Upgrades for Diamond Hilton Honors Members may include upgrades up to “junior”, “standard” or “one-bedroom” suites.

As you can see, the old terms said that members “will receive upgrades” based on availability, and that the upgraded rooms “may include” certain room types.

Meanwhile the new terms say that members “may receive upgrades” based on availability, and that the upgraded rooms “may include” certain room types.

Let me once again emphasize that I don’t think there’s actually a major policy change here, and I don’t think individual hotels will change their policies. However, surely anyone who wants to be academic about terms & conditions (hi, DCS!) would agree that there’s an interesting distinction between saying members will be upgraded subject to availability, rather than saying that they may be upgraded subject to availability. The latter suggests that a hotel would be within their rights to not provide any sort of an upgrade even if it’s available.

While I don’t think there are nefarious intentions here, I do find it suspicious that they purposefully changed the terms in this way.

As a point of comparison, here’s what Marriott’s updated suite upgrade terms state:

Complimentary Enhanced Room Upgrade for Platinum Elite Members.  Platinum Elite Members receive a complimentary upgrade to the best available room subject to availability for the entire length of stay at the time of check-in. Complimentary upgrade includes suites, rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities or rooms on Executive Floors.

What do you make of these updates to the Hilton Honors terms?

(Tip of the hat to Vineet)

Comments

  1. I have been a HH Diamond member for about 6 years now, and although I like a lot of the things about the Honors program, upgrades are a weak spot. Although I almost always get put on a club floor, or in some sort of “executive room” (and they are good about honoring the “high floor, away from elevator” request in my profile), it is very rare that I am upgraded to a suite. This isn’t important to me however, as these are typically work trips, my stays are usually for only one night, and I don’t typically spend much time at all in the hotel. FWIW however, when I travel with my wife for vacation, I typically e-mail the property ahead a time, and this almost always results in an excellent suite upgrade.

  2. FIFY: “The latter [states] that a hotel would be within their rights to not provide any sort of an upgrade even if it’s available.”

    Under the old terms a member could pressure a hotel for an upgrade based on the “availability at the time of arrival.” The new terms both explicitly delink the upgrade from availability and make the upgrade entirely discretionary. IMHO, this is a difference in kind, not in degree.

    Boo, Hilton!

  3. I do like how Hilton confirmed free breakfast and no resort fees when paying by points in their updated terms.

    Upgrades might be iffy, but resort fees are definitely off the table.

  4. I wonder if this watered down upgrade is a manifestation of free “Diamond Status” from the Hilton Aspire card. When status is that easy to get, you can’t upgrade everyone.

  5. HH Diamond here. Hilton Suite upgrade has only happened by selecting ‘paid upgrade options’ waitlist at time of booking. Stayed @Canopy recently. Opted for Suite upgrade if available (waitlisted) and was granted such on check-in for additional collect $. Technically, Junior suite was available. Front desk said pay more or stay in current room. (they would up-sell it to somebody else). I’ve never been received a free HH Suite upgrade and I’ve been diamond for many years.

  6. If I’ve learned anything from DCS, it’s that the way to be upgraded as a Hilton Diamond is to insist until they relent. It’s weird that they go backward as Marriott goes forward.

  7. In contact law there is a distinction between “will” and “may” where “will” creates an obligation, where “may” doesn’t. I could read the old terms to state that a Diamond member will always receive an upgrade, then you add ambiguity by saying “subject to availability”. I would assume this is a lawyer rewriting because they are afarid of a lawsuit for breach of terms, especially if a hotel for some reason didn’t upgrade a diamond.

    If they were to write it more clearly they should say “If a preferred room is available upon check in, then Diamond members will be upgraded to such prefered room.”

  8. LOL. I’d already noticed the change, which makes no difference at all. I will report, pictorially, on my suite upgrade clearance rate after this language change to prove that it is meaningless. All the language change is designed to do is to avoid misinterpretation, as well as to manage members’ expectations — something that SPG did badly.

    Loyalty program managers do read travel blogs and are well aware of all the bitchin’ that goes on. It could be that Hilton Honors managers have seen the assault on the wording in the new MR policy, and/or that they have had to deal with SPG Plats wanting to join the program, who have insisted that they would join if only HHonors suite upgrades were just like SPG’s. Of course, HHonors managers know that SPG’s suite upgrade policy was exactly like HHonors’, except that the language in the SPG policy was all muddled up, leading to its near-universal misinterpretation and to the bitchin’, which HH wants make sure they avoid.

    Therefore, I am certain that the language change in the HHonors policy is to avoid creating entitled elites, à la SPG Plats, who believed that they were “guaranteed” or “entitled to” suite upgrades, when in reality all upgrades depended on availability and were at the discretion of each property, and could thus not possibly be guaranteed.

    The preceding is also why it still says in the Marriott summary of Plat benefits:

    “***We’ll do our best*** to upgrade your room (including Select Suites), based on availability at check-in. Upgrades are subject to availability identified by each hotel and limited to your personal guest room.”

    That is how Marriott really feels and that is how they will implement the policy regardless of the change in language that they make to appease self-entitled SPG rejects…er…elites.

    You got hung up on the verbiage and made claims that collided against reality, but do not seem to have learned a thing from it. Is it not time to just chill and go with whatever you get?!

    I’d predicted that soon enough, in their ‘crusade’ to the fill the void created by the demise of HGP and SPG — the best programs in the business if you believe that there is such thing as ‘Reverse Darwinism’ or the ‘Demise of the Strongest’ — self-anointed travel gurus will begin spreading the meme that MR is now the superior program, although they’d maligned it as much as they did HH. In the meantime, they seem to ignore the fact that MR is now the largest program in the business, when we were told (with no proof) that small programs like HGP and SPG offered better benefits because they had to try harder to attract loyal members (I guess they did not try hard enough!).

    When I have the time, I will do a piece that will objectively compare WoH Globalist vs. MR Plat vs. HH Diamond benefits, as a “tale of the tape” that will debunk all the claims. For instance, WoH does not offer the 5th award night free perk, arguably the top perk in the business, and, yet, we are to believe that WoH offers the best top elite benefits!?

    There is nothing here to write home about. Really.

    G’day.

  9. There are plenty of commenters out there who are worth your time and attention. After everything, I’m surprised you’d give it to DCS instead.

  10. @Joe — Red with envy, aren’t we? Eat your heart out, buddy. BTW, @Lucky is already taken. Try looking elsewhere 🙂

    G’day.

  11. I’ve been a HHonors Diamond Member for 2 years now. In my experience, it’s common to get an upgrade to a suite if you’re staying just one day in the hotel (even in Hampton Inns and Hilton Garden Inns). If your stay is longer, usually they “upgrade” you to an executive level room and if the hotel doesn’t have an executive level, they keep you the room type you booked.

  12. @Stvr — You learned no such thing from me. I think you are confusing me with some self-entitled SPG Plat.

    Provide your evidence or just can it.

    G’day.

  13. I just spent 5 nights in the Hilton Berlin. When I checked in, I asked about a diamond upgrade to a suite. She acknowledged that she had a suite available for all 5 nights, but she wouldn’t give it to me for free. (She said I would have to pay 200 euros.) She said if I was just there for one night, I could have it for free.

    I’m a diamond, so I have lounge access and that’s all I really cared about. The room I paid for was nice. And they gave me the minibar for free. I thought the whole scenario was interesting, though.

  14. I’ve had fairly good success checking in with the app and selecting an upgraded room. I’ve gotten a suite that way a couple times since I’ve had status, including at the Waldorf Orlando.

  15. @lucky why not just ask Hilton why they made the change? Hearing their response would be helpful and you are in a position to actually receive a response.

  16. Upon reading Doug’s last sentence-

    I tried emailing the manager for a suite upgrade a week prior to my stay but I was completely ignored *insert laugh cry emote*

  17. As a Diamond member, I consistently get upgraded to Suites without asking at check-in for overseas properties whilst I rarely get upgraded in domestic properties unless I show the staff a clear screenshot that there are plenty of Suites available that day.

  18. I’m just waiting for the day where hotel loyalty programs prioritize upgrades based on status plus number of stays/nights/dollars spent in the last 12 months……

  19. @Lucky, while I give you credit for paying attention (sometimes) to readers‘ comments… you shouldn‘t be misled and mistake what DCS utters for anything close to an academic analysis. It‘s psychopathic BS talk which you shouldn’t fuel by taking up some of the random comments he makes. I get that you sort of live from the amount of response and discussion an article creates but at some point you really should think of the vast majority of your readers and not of a single weirdo.

  20. @Lucky always obsessed with the wording of this stuff..which always has and always will mean.. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Every hotel acts in its own regard.

  21. @Joe — LoL, you were envious and jealous (usually ‘green’) and angry (usually ‘red’, hence the mixed metaphor) that I got all the attention

  22. @Ben1982 is also ‘red with envy’. You would not know an ‘academic analysis’ if it hit you in the face, so get lost.

    @Ryan — I agree wholeheartedly! It’s meaningless verbiage that cannot be a substitute for one’s own experience, which says that it was a ‘fight’ to get those ‘guaranteed’ SPG suite upgrades!

    G’day!

  23. Do people downgrade hotels on the program website and/or Trip Advisor or other sites for failure of a property to give an upgrade or otherwise provide elite benefits? If so, do you state the reason in the review?

  24. If this was Starwood making this change, DCS would be frothing at the mouth saying “LOOK at this, no more upgrade promises, clearly in the T&Cs”!

    But since it’s Hilton, he brushes it off as no big deal. I mean, “may” no different than “will”, right?

    Such a hypocrite…he’s like a Republican now loving Mother Russia.

  25. Also, since he is such a troll for T&Cs, here’s the actual Marriott T&C language around suites. Sounds like a lot more intent than Hilton’s new downgraded “may” language.

    Platinum Elite Members receive a complimentary upgrade to the best available room subject to availability for the entire length of stay at the time of check-in. Complimentary upgrade includes suites, rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities or rooms on Executive Floors.

  26. What B.S. DCS has been the one warning against claims of ‘guaranteed perks’, of which there are few. His position on this HH language change is entirely consistent with that , unlike yours which has never had a reality basis (how about them great SNAs, ey?)

    G’day!

  27. What a douche talking about yourself in the third person. Get a life.

    BTW you flat out lie when you say SPG’s upgrade language was the same as Hilton. And no, quoting your own lies as “evidence” doesn’t count.

  28. BTW have never had a SNA expire, have enjoyed suite upgrades confirmed in advance in high end properties in a dozen countries.

    You, on the other had, have never sniffed an SNA and never will. Enjoy your “may upgrades”!

  29. — “Douche”.
    Very classy, but there goes the civil discussion in here now that his unhingedness has arrived..

    — “you flat out lie when you say SPG’s upgrade language was the same as Hilton”.
    You mean just like I lied when I said that SNAs were useless, and quoted you your own heroes as evidence? You are more delusional than delusion itself!!!

    @Tiffany — Can you at long last send this pile of trash back to FT where he can attack and attack and attack, launch puerile insults and feel right at home? It seems like he is always on the “sauce” when he gets in here. Can even figuratively smell it…

  30. OMAAT team – feel free to review Twitter vs. Alex Jones for a case study on how to silence a bully…DCS has a clear pattern of insulting everyone who points out his flaws & lack of logic, over a period of years now. The endless lies are just the icing on the cake.

  31. Can anyone else smell the “sauce”?

    “A clear pattern of insulting” when he comes here drunk and calls me ‘douche’, a ‘liar’ etc. You’re truly pathetic… Go back to FT!

    Since you won’t, I am outta here! As someone put it, you do have a hard-on for. I ain’t interested!

    Goodbye!

  32. Good riddance…of course you always storm off (this time with tail between legs as we are all laughing about the Hilton T&Cs change)…yet you always return too to dispense more insults & lies.

    Maybe this is the one time you actually keep your promise…one can dream.

  33. On a more sober note, and back to reality.

    How do any of you real Hilton users obtain an individual hotel manager’s email address to contact him?

    I can not even find the individual hotel’s email address on the website page.

    Thanking you in anticipation.

  34. Lifetime Diamond HH – rarely get suite upgrades (about one in fifty stays), in fact not sure what I get over and above Diamond 🙂

  35. @Doug – that’s a good approach. What do you typically say in your email prior to arrival? That’s pretty much how I travel – lots of business and then take the wife along for vacation or when I go to HNL…

  36. As the Starriott Rewards self destruct it is not a good sign that Hilton is taking advantage by lowering their own offerings. This would be a time to maintain the uniqueness of the program by holding fast to the advantages of being a Diamond member. However with all the new mini-Diamonds arriving because of the Aspire card and all the people leaving the Starriott program because of status matching Hilton feels no pressure to maintain their award levels.
    In the long run this will probably work against Hhonors because the differentiation will not exist and Starriott members may return to their roots licking their woulds.
    Every time Hilton offers Diamond status for free there is a period of time when there is no status as a Diamond. Soon, however, the free Diamonds will not maintain their status and the number of Diamonds drops back to reasonable levels,
    This time I fear that we will start to remember the “good old days” before Hilton made the Diamond program a poor second choice.

  37. I am one of those SPG Ultra-loyal Lifetime Platinums hoping for the best from the new program as a Lifetime Platinum Premier. In spite of a rocky roll-out which made CO/UA appear tame in comparison, I am a “glass is half full” kind of guy and I’ll let the dust settle so we can see what we really have. It is for that reason that I signed up for the Aspire Amex for the instant Diamond in case the dust does not settle well.

    There are two things I have learned over the years of top Elite status and the benefits that usually come along with it. One is that I paid for a low cost room and airfare and usually end up with a Suite, lounge access, breakfast, Premium cabin, etc. and I am genuinely happy to have it. Hotels are usually independently owned and pay for the “Flag” to drive business. Do I always get all of these benefits?? No., but I usually do. The other thing to remember is that a nice smile goes a long way. It is amazing the amount of sh*t a front line agent takes all day from Plats/Diamond or whatever who think they are “entitled” to the family jewels. Bottom line: You get more with sugar than vinegar.

  38. A Diamond for 8 years I can still count the suite upgrades on my ten fingers … even in properties I stay a lot I rarely get a suite upgrade but rather a hand written note by the General Manager, which I know is also something …

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