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 which isn’t an award chart massacre like what we saw with HHonors in early 2013, so I guess that’s a good thing overall.
HHonors hotel category changes as of January 13, 2016
Rather than emailing members when there’s a big award chart change, Hilton now has a website where they list the category changes. And that website has just been updated to reflect the Hilton family properties changing HHonors award category this winter, which will kick in for bookings made as of January 13, 2016.
24 hotels will be going up in price:
Meanwhile 11 hotels will be going down in price:
Hilton has over 4,500 properties around the world, so we’re seeing the price of significantly less than 1% of properties changing, which isn’t a whole lot. It’s also interesting that a vast majority of the changes are at US properties.
The number of points required for a free night at the Hilton Vancouver Airport will increase
So if you want to book one of the properties going up in price, be sure to do so by January 13, 2016 — it’s okay if the stay is for a subsequent date.
Why Hilton’s hotel category changes don’t even matter
First of all, Hilton’s category changes aren’t really significant since less than 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 in 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.
35 Hilton properties are changing categories, which represents less than 1% of Hilton’s portfolio. Ultimately that’s not something to be worried about. I’d be much more concerned about hotels changing cost within a category, which is something we can’t easily keep track of.
All around I’ve been extremely pleased with Hilton HHonors this year, though. They really stepped it up in 2015 in terms of their promotions, which is something HHonors members should be happy about. I just status matched to Hilton Diamond and have some upcoming stays over the next few weeks, which I’m excited about. Maybe I’ll even be able to score some suite upgrades.
Have you redeemed points at any of the 35 Hilton-family properties which are changing categories?