Hilton Honors Announces Radical 2018 Program Changes

Filed Under: Hilton

I’ve been impressed by the Hilton Honors program for the past couple of years. They’ve made some significant improvements to the structure of the program, and have also consistently offered promotions, which their competitors haven’t. Well, today Hilton Honors has announced some other major changes to the program, which are a mixed bag.

Hilton Honors’ 2017 program changes

Before we talk about the latest announcement, let’s look at the changes that Hilton Honors made last year. Early last year Hilton Honors announced that they were:

  • Changing their name from Hilton HHonors to Hilton Honors
  • Introducing new Points & Cash redemptions, where you can redeem part points and part cash towards the cost of any stay; this makes Honors points usable for more members
  • Introducing points pooling, where you can share points with up to 10 friends or family members at no cost
  • Introducing the ability to redeem points for Amazon purchases; while this isn’t how I’d choose to redeem points, I’m always a fan of seeing programs introduce more ways for members to use points
  • Introducing the ability to extend Diamond status by a year, assuming you’ve been a Diamond member for at least three years, and that you’ve earned either 250 elite qualifying nights or 500,000 base points

These are all fantastic changes, as far as I’m concerned. On top of all that, keep in mind that Hilton Honors offered a global promotion every single day in 2017, so they blew away their competitors in that regard.

Hilton Honors’ 2018 changes

Last week Hilton Honors announced that they’ll introduce complimentary breakfast at Waldorf Astoria properties for Gold and Diamond members, which is a fantastic development. On top of that, on January 18 Hilton will be introducing a suite of new credit cards, including a card that comes with Diamond status, which I’m sure many will love.

But there are more changes coming, and they’re a bit of a mixed bag. They’re bad news for the casual member, and great news for the Hilton Honors road warrior who qualifies for status “the hard way.”

Most of these changes kick in starting in April. Here’s a look at the changes you can expect:

Hilton Honors is eliminating the ability to earn Points & Miles

Let’s start with the downside. The Hilton Honors program is currently quite complicated, and members can choose whether they want to earn Points & Points for their stay, or Points & Miles. Under the current system:

  • Members who earn Points & Points earn 10 base points per dollar spent, plus a further five points per dollar spent for choosing this earning style
  • Members who earn Points & Miles earn 10 base points per dollar spent, plus one mile per dollar spent

Hilton is changing the structure of that, and will no longer allow members to earn Points & Miles. They tell me that engagement for that was really low, and fewer than 1% of members chose the Points & Miles option. Personally I’d rather earn five Hilton points than one airline mile, so I don’t view that as much of a loss.

You can still transfer Honors points to airline miles after you earn them, though that’s not a particularly good use of points.

Hilton Honors is increasing elite points bonuses

Hilton Honors already has among the best points earning rates of any program in the industry (especially when you factor in that they’re almost always offering promotions), and they’re adjusting the earning rates going forward. This is bad news for non-elite and Silver members, it’s slightly good news for Gold members, and it’s a wash for Diamond members.

  • Silver members will go from earning a 15% points bonus to earning a 20% points bonus (12 points per dollar)
  • Gold members will go from earning a 25% points bonus to earning an 80% points bonus (18 points per dollar)
  • Diamond members will go from earning a 50% points bonus to earning a 100% points bonus (20 points per dollar)

You’re probably saying “wait a second, they’re increasing the bonuses across the board, how is this not good news?” As mentioned in the previous section, Hilton is changing the structure of the program, so you’ll no longer earn an extra five points per dollar through the Points & Points method. So to compare the old earning rates (when selecting Points & Points) and the new earning rates:

  • Blue members go from earning 15 points per dollar to 10 points per dollar
  • Silver members go from earning 16.5 points per dollar to 12 points per dollar
  • Gold members go from earning 17.5 points per dollar to 18 points per dollar
  • Diamond members continue to earn 20 points per dollar

Note that the above earning rates applies for all brands except Tru and Home2, where you earn half as many points.

This is negative news for most members in terms of the ability to earn points, though given how easy it is to earn Hilton Honors Gold status, I don’t view this as much of a loss for most savvy members and readers of this blog. Note that under the old system you had to opt-in to earn the extra points through the Points & Points method, and I’m told that a vast majority of non-elite members never opted in to that. So those members were mostly already only earning 10 points per dollar, and won’t be any worse off.

Hilton Honors is introducing Milestone Bonuses

Hilton is introducing a further bonus on a permanent basis, which won’t require registration, and where there’s no cap on how many points you can earn. Hilton Honors members will receive unlimited Milestone Bonuses, where you earn an additional 10,000 bonus points on every 10th night, once members reach at least 40 nights in a calendar year.

On top of that, Honors Diamond members will receive an additional bonus of 30,000 points after 60 nights in one year.

In other words, a Diamond member who stays 60 nights per year would earn an additional 60,000 bonus points per year on top of what they currently earn, not even factoring in the improved elite bonus.

Here’s a chart Hilton Honors shared, showing the difference in points earning under the new and old system for Diamond members (obviously this wouldn’t look as favorable for non-elite members):

Hilton Honors is introducing elite rollover nights

Starting in 2018, Silver, Gold, and Diamond members can rollover qualifying nights earned beyond their current elite tier requirement, to count towards their elite tier status the following year. This isn’t useful for those who earn status through credit cards, but for the real road warriors who spend a ton of nights with Hilton, this could prove useful. As a reminder, presently Hilton Honors requires 10 nights for Silver, 40 nights for Gold, and 60 nights for Diamond.

Hilton Honors will let you gift elite status

Starting in 2018, members staying 60 or more nights in a calendar year will have the ability to gift Gold status to someone, and those staying 100+ nights will have the ability to upgrade that person to Diamond status.

Bottom line

I have to commend Hilton Honors for their creativity. While other programs have largely been complacent, Hilton Honors has been adding unique perks to their program that set them apart. If nothing else, I appreciate the creativity. The way I see it, these changes are a mixed bag.

Non-elite members will potentially be earning fewer points than before, though in many ways that’s not surprising. With Hilton’s changes last year, Hilton Honors members are more engaged than before, and have more ways to redeem their points, given points pooling, Points & Cash redemptions, etc.

The good news is that there are so many ways to earn Hilton Honors status (even just for having the Amex Platinum Card), so for anyone who is a bit savvy, these changes should be positive. The real winners here are Hilton’s most loyal members, those who actually stay 60+ nights per year with Hilton. They’ll be earning a ton more points, and will have the ability to gift status and accrue rollover nights.

As a Hilton Honors Gold member through the Amex Platinum Card I guess I’m earning an extra 0.5 points per dollar spent, and that’s it. For members like me, perhaps the most exciting development is the free breakfast at Waldorf Astoria properties, that was announced last week.

The biggest positive here is that the program is truly being simplified, which is good given how complicated of a program this has been in the past.

What do you make of these changes to the Hilton Honors program?

Comments
  1. Thanks for this analysis. Very in depth and very useful. I am HH Gold via credit card status, so this is a slight improvement for me. I get a lot of use out of this program and a lot of free stays. Back when I was a road warrior with 150+ nights a year at Hiltons, I would really have applauded this change.

  2. I don’t see how this is negative at all, except for the casual Hilton stayer who probably doesn’t care much at all or notice the marginal difference in points earning. For the vast majority of your readers and the road warriors who are Hilton-loyal, this is a great development. This is what Hyatt should have done, instead of poking their Globalists in the eye.

  3. Excellent analysis, many thanks. So it might potentially be worth it to acquire the upcoming super-elite Aspire card and go all-in with Diamond status. Or it might be more sane to await the new Marriott card(s) and just stick with a program that doesn’t require a PhD to navigate. I might just opt for the latter: wait and watch. Looking back at my 2017 stays none of the Hiltons were memorable, and two of them required follow-up calls to inquire about phantom minibar charges on my Amex statements.

  4. I saw your headline and freaked out. The travel bloggers were so fearful of last years variable point redemption changes which, for me, have been mostly positive. I’m an Diamond the hard way, and I appreciate Hilton’s recognition of those who spend the most time and money with them.

    Thanks for this thoughtful analysis. I don’t feel the need to read any other analysis! 🙂

    The only question I have is if I am Diamond this year, will I have the ability to gift status later this year? Or does that start next year? The March reset makes discussing years confusing!

  5. I think this is good if only because it puts pressure on Marriott not to water down the new combined Marriott-SPG program when it launches in 2019. I think it also means Marriott will have to provide a breakfast benefit (granted, it will probably be coffin and a muffin) at all properties, including Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, and hotels with a resort designation.

  6. Quite bad news and biased review which is indeed sad for OMAAT, but not the news. It seems Lucky’s become more engaged with airlines/hotels directly and couldn’t care that much about lousy miles/points collectors. You need to blind in order not to see the negative.

    HHonors has been running airline related promotions back to back (like 3X miles or 2000 miles per stay). That was a great thing which truly differentiated HHonors from the competitors. A $100 stay easily earned you 3500 points (2X promo + Diamond bonus + welcome bonus) + 2000 BA miles. Now you would get 4000 points and that’s it. Over the past couple of years I’ve earned more than 30,000 VS miles, about 80,000 BA/IB miles, 20,000 UA miles and some M&M miles – that was all on top of HHonors points. Now it’s gone.

    PS. I don’t buy that less than 1% of members used points+miles option. Why would you waste your corporate resources and run promos with 20 airlines at the same time if only less than 1% of your customers might be interested in?

  7. Nevermind…I found the details about when the ability to gift status starts Might be helpful to link to the FAQ from Hilton?

    8. Will my 2017 total qualifying nights allow me to gift Gold or Diamond Status in January 2018?
    As this is a new benefit for our elite members, the qualification for this benefit will begin in the 2018 calendar year and be available for gifting immediately once a member reaches 60 nights (for gifting Gold) or 100 nights (for gifting Diamond).

  8. Points & Miles never worked – have not got any single mile inbto my Eurobonus account without claming afterwards

  9. It is sad that this is considered a simplification. Apparently it isn’t a negative for me so I don’t care but these programs get complicated with all of the bonuses based on various factors.

  10. This program is HIGHLY inflated. You earn a-lot but the point costs are atrocious. I know there are great uses of points out there… lots. but for the most part its hard to find good value in H Honors. But hey…still better than crappy SPG!! Marriott still wins in the earn and burn category.

  11. So both Points & Miles AND Points & Points are being eliminated? While it’s not a loss for the elite members who did opt in for P&P, it would’ve been nice to earn 23 points per dollar going forward.

  12. I don’t have a whole lot of time this morning to go more in-depth, but here’s where I’m at. hilton Diamond. I have an 80 night stay coming up here.

    Right now I get points plus (airline) miles . I value (UA) airline miles more then Hilton miles. For my upcomming stay, will I be affected? do i have to choose between ua or hilton? and if so, what would make the most sense. If it’s 500 ua miles or 150k hilton points, it’s obvious, but I’ve been out of the loop for a little bit.

  13. What Hilton needs to address is the diminished value of being a Diamond or Gold member in the U.S. While Hilton hotels outside the U.S. Are very good at automatically offering upgrades, breakfast, and lounge access to members, U.S. hotels appear to believe one should be satisfied with two bottles of water. Executive lounges have all but disappeared, free breakfast means coffee and a muffin (or a $10 off coupon for $45 buffet breakfast), and one mostly has to ask for an upgrade ( that typically results in just a higher floor). Add to this an elite check-in desk that is never manned at most properties. Inconsistent application of benefits across U.S. hotels is the biggest complaint on Gold/Diamond social media sites.

  14. I am right now enjoying a drink or two in the roof bar at the new Park Hyatt Bangkok, at the tail end of my month-long 2017 Year-end Asian Escapade(TM), and have not yet carefully looked at these programmatic changes, but as one who is thoroughly familiar with the HH program, my first impression based on this post is that these changes are mostly positive. I will have more in the coming days. Until then, the word is: no, the sky has not fallen 🙂

    Cheers!

  15. Maybe I need to read your post again but what is the downside for a Gold member trough credit card?

  16. This new card has my attention, but generally I find redemption rates on Hilton points to be particularly awful in major cities. They often have a SINGLE BED room at a reasonable redemption rate, but not others. I’ve not see Marriot / IHG / Carlson even sell single bed rooms.

  17. In spite of what Ben has posted (and contrary to what DCS will likely post once his cheerleading skirt is back from the dry cleaners), these changes are not universally positive for all Diamond members. In fact, speaking specifically for me as a Diamond, these changes are completely neutral for me, and actually have the possibility of being negative in certain instances.

    Speaking specifically to the neutrality issue here, Hilton has given the opportunity for the rollover of nights, but not everyone who has status will qualify by those markers – I qualify personally by stays, which won’t roll over under this scheme, and the people who qualify through base points get no benefit from this, either.

    Translated, nothing changes for me, or for the other people who earn their status via stays or points.

    On the nights front, the same marker is used to determine who can gift status to someone else, which again doesn’t benefit someone who has 35 stays but only 50 nights. Again, for me and a lot of other people, a completely neutral change.

    The last significant change – the elimination of the double dip – has already been pointed out as a neutral change for Golds/Diamonds who already use points+points, with the loss being to people who are Blue or Silver. One of the other comments here, though, pointed out that this actually can be a negative, when there are special promos that award bonus miles through certain airlines – we obviously don’t know how these promos might operate in the future (or whether they will even have them), but if this change means that such promos will not exist in the future, though, then it’s definitely a negative for those people who might use them.

    On a more summary level, though, I (and, I’m sure, others) would occasionally switch a stay from points+points to points+miles, just to be able to earn some easy miles in a program where I needed some activity to prevent expiration. For example, if I were staying at an $100 Hampton Inn, I might decide that the 100 miles I’d earn (being enough to trigger activity) might be worthwhile than 500 more Honors points for that particular stay.

    Removing this option removes a really easy way to extend expiration dates cheaply. Sure, the exchange of points is still there, but it’s a decidedly more expensive transaction (which ranges anywhere between 10:1 and 20:1 in most instances, instead of the 5:1 trade in the double dip). For the people who use this function for this purpose, it’s most decidedly a devaluation.

    For some Diamonds, the changes announced are good changes – that much is clear. Let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that these are good changes for ALL Diamonds, though, because they are neutral at best for some people, and negative for others.

  18. It could also be argued that the rollover of nights dilutes Gold/Diamond benefits (upgrades) because it will be easier for folks to move up tiers.

  19. I neglected to mention the bonus points for reaching 40/50/60 nights portion of the changes in my prior post, which, again, are a benefit only to those who reach them. For the Golds/Diamonds who qualify by stays and never reach them, this is again a completely neutral change to the program.

  20. I am a silver member most years, gold occasionally. The changes are not as good. I like their double points promotion better.

    If they make their non-elite or low level elite program too bad, then it hurts loyality, in my opinion.
    Also the 1% getting points and miles doesn’t seem accurate because later they said they points and miles is the default and most non-elite members don’t change that setting.

  21. One of those ‘wish it happened last year’ things for me. Had 111 nights in Hilton properties last year. Sigh. Would have started the year off with 51 night credits, 110,000 more points, and gifting diamond to someone.

    I’ll be doing all IHG for Q1 for promos and to build up points, but will look to go mostly Hilton after that, assuming Hyatt makes no meaningful changes that would bring me back to them.

  22. Might be good to mention that they eliminated their award chart and (as expected) have raised redemption rates here and there. For example, HGI Singapore and Hampton Inn Mexico City both went from 10k to 20k with no announcement whatsoever.

  23. I am a HH Diamond life member, attained from my years of working but that is in the rearview mirror. Rarely stay at Hilton so attaining HH points to obtain free nights in their hotels is completely ridiculous. My wife and I have about a half a million HH points and even with points & cash we would get a few nights at best (Waldorf & Conrad), yeah we are not staying in Hampton Inns. Whereas with Hyatt we stay at great properties for $150 + 12,500 or 25,000 all in or $300 + 15,000 or 30,000 all in for Categories 6 & 7. It may be easy to earn points when you stay at Hilton properties like I used to but if you are retired and seriously into the points & miles game Hilton is not a participant.
    BTW a shout out to Mike for the best laugh of the day regarding DCS’s cheerleading skirt.

  24. Take everything that @Mike wants you to think is negative, turn it into a positive and you will pretty much get it right.

    With these changes, Hilton Honors, which was already way ahead of the “competition” (quoted because there is really no such thing anymore), just buried them all. After the ASPIRE card comes out, there will be only one hotel loyalty program to join…

    Cheers from PH BKK!

  25. BTW, for the past few weeks, I have been reporting on the 2017 Edition of my Year-end Asian Escapade(tm), which has just 7 more days to go. It is my attempt to give a close look at the “Anatomy of a Big-Time Redemption” with the hope that it might be useful to some, since I have gotten it almost down to “rock science” (read: it costs me zero money!). Here’s the link:

    https://goo.gl/T2yzhY

    I will provide the bottom line after I return. In the meantime, I hope you’ll love the animated itinerary maps!

    G’day!

  26. Claiming that Hilton has no competition, and even less now, is the height of some bizarre psychosis, given that there are minimal actual changes (and likely a lot more Diamonds fighting over the same meager benefits & tiny speck of actual luxury properties one would want to stay at)

  27. @DCS: “Take everything that @Mike wants you to think is negative, turn it into a positive and you will pretty much get it right.”

    I knew you’d jump right onto the Hilton apologist train with both feet, DCS, but even you should see that a response that is nothing more than “These changes are positive because I said so” is pretty pathetic.

    Again – just because you benefit from these changes doesn’t mean that they’re good for everyone.

  28. I closely watch some international location award point redemption rates and HIlton recently devalued point redemptions by 100%. No use in gaining such little points or having more earning oportunities if they literally double the cost of award night redemptions.

  29. What I don’t like about Hilton points is that when booking you may find out that they will charge you different points for different nights. It is not a set point like IHG, Hyatt, etc. After crunching some numbers, you would see that the points fluctuate with the fees for each night and the ratio of DOLLAR/POINT is usually not great. This is the reason I don’t bank on Hilton.

  30. high five to @Mike for effectively trolling @DCS. But on a more serious note, I’m with @Mike about the loss of points and miles. Many moons ago, I used to travel to Europe monthly on Virgin. I have boatloads of miles (millions, literally) with them but don’t have need to fly them anymore. I used points and miles to make sure that my Virgin miles don’t expire before I can burn them which I only get to do sporadically. Occasionally I’ll rotate to BA or anther airline when the bonus is great. Now I’m either going to have track my expiration and do something to keep my account live. Or get the credit card. So, is it a big loss on earning, no? But on convenience yes.

  31. I am enjoying myself too much at the moment to spend time explaining why the announced changes will simply strengthen the HH program, especially at the top. Most people actually have intuitively inferred that the changes are not at all as negative as the usual suspects would have us believe.

    One thing I can say is that it is not at all by coincidence that the changes have been announced now. They are meant to go in tandem with the new HH AMEX co-brand cards that will be introduced in just over a week. One feature of the cards will be that they won’t do anyone any good unless one stays quite a bit at Hilton properties, which is, in fact, what Hilton is betting on based on their philosophy that “if you give them status they will come.” So, Hilton Honors will make it easy for one to be Diamond, but the status will be a lot more meaningful if one actually stays at Hilton properties and spends some money there.

    In short, the time to fully evaluate these programmatic changes will be after the new co-brand cards have been introduced and we’ve had the time to see and assess some of their effects on the program.

    G’day!

  32. Nice changes, though this will have little impact to my situation since I do earn mainly on stays rather than nights.
    One thing I had hoped to see would have been better perks during stays at hotels for Diamond – especially the upgrades and the hotel benefits part e.g welcome drinks even at non FS hotels or something else to show more appreciation. Improvement of the online check-in for eligible members to choose an upgraded room.

    Still don’t like the fact that they are giving away Gold (especially) and Diamond status like candies.

    Cheers!

  33. @DCS: “Most people actually have intuitively inferred that the changes are not at all as negative as the usual suspects would have us believe.”

    And had you actually bothered reading the criticisms before spouting off, you’d have seen that no one has said that these are not positive changes for a certain group of people. What I and others have said, though, is that these are not positive changes for everyone — in particular, Diamonds who qualify by stays or base points (and who end up with fewer than 40 nights per year) end up at a net zero position, and may actually find themselves in a net negative position depending on how often they were to utilize the soon-to-be-defunct double dip option.

    If anything, Hilton has sent a clear message to Diamonds who earn by stays or base points that they don’t value their business to the extent that they do the people who qualify by nights. As one of those people (who qualifies with enough stays, but just under 40 nights per year), the message that Hilton is sending is loud and clear, and is probably enough to drive me to get the Aspire card when it’s released, but move some of my business to SPG/Marriott.

    @Jr: “Grow up.”

    Way to have a hard-hitting argument against my posts.

  34. To be fair, can we blame Hilton for giving bigger rewards for night qualifiers vs stay qualifiers? It could be argued that, in many cases, the night qualifiers are spending more money with Hilton. Spend money…get rewarded.

  35. @elijah: “To be fair, can we blame Hilton for giving bigger rewards for night qualifiers vs stay qualifiers? It could be argued that, in many cases, the night qualifiers are spending more money with Hilton. Spend money…get rewarded.”

    If one were to believe that, then the rewards should extend to those who qualify via base points as well (since that is the only one that is specifically dictated by spend).

    In fact, if spend were the primary driver, then those people should be rewarded the most, since base point qualification requires $12,000 to be spent per year, which is likely more than someone with 60 nights is going to have if they’re staying primarily at lower-end properties.

  36. @mike I did consider that. You could go a step further and say that those folks who qualify on points only (Are there many who actually do?) are the MOST valuable. They pay Hilton a lot of money while in return Hilton has to arguably provide less to them. For example, if I am Diamond based on points, I might take up a fraction of the number of room nights and services that a night-qualifying Diamond does.

    Regardless, Hilton has a strategy for all of this; we may never know what it is. I’m just glad that it is beneficial for me.

  37. @elijah: “You could go a step further and say that those folks who qualify on points only (Are there many who actually do?) are the MOST valuable.”

    Which is pretty much what I said in that post. The fact that those people get absolutely nothing out of this unless they meet a night threshold says (at least to me) that money spent is not the primary motivator here.

    As you note, though, we might never know what the motivation is here. It makes sense that Hilton would want to reward Diamonds who earn through means other than via a credit card, but it certainly doesn’t make sense to me that Hilton would send the message they’re sending to the Diamonds who qualify via points or stays.

  38. @Mike — What you do is always see negative where there isn’t any. Should I link to past HH programmatic changes that you similarly predicted would be negative but have consistently turned out to be positives for the program, along the lines of my QUANTITATIVE analyses that predicted the ultimate impact? At some point one one has to realize that one is already in a deep hole and that digging needs to stop!!!

    Things won’t be any different this time. I predict that this is where HH gets away from the pack once and for all. Just you wait and watch…

    A couple days in BKK and off to Conrad HKG before I return to NYC.

    G’day!

  39. Hilton does not care how one gets status, including Diamond. They just believe that people with status are more likely become loyal patrons and I think that the numbers prove them right on this. Even people who disparage HH are happy with HH Gold — in my view a status that is as good as the other programs’ top tier elite status, which is why HH Diamond stands above all other top tier elite levels.

  40. @DCS: “What you do is always see negative where there isn’t any. Should I link to past HH programmatic changes that you similarly predicted would be negative but have consistently turned out to be positives for the program, along the lines of my QUANTITATIVE analyses that predicted the ultimate impact?”

    You mean, the ones where you cherry-picked observations to get the results you wanted, all the while insulting and attacking anyone who disagreed with you? No thanks.

    “Hilton does not care how one gets status, including Diamond.”

    I think they’ve abundantly shown with these new benefits that this is not true, DCS, whether you like it or not.

    But since you absolutely cannot believe that, DCS, why don’t you tell everyone what benefit a Diamond with 30 stays and 35 nights gets out of these new perks, since you are convinced of just how awesome all of this is.

  41. @Mike — You keep harping on and on about something that is a MATTER OF CHOICE and always has been: Hilton is the only program that has always allowed elite qualification based on (a) spend (base points), (b) number of nights, (c) number of stays, and (c) credit card spend. Those ways of qualifying for status remain unchanged. It’s a CHOICE. YOUR CHOICE.

    Since you do not seem to get what than means, let me spell it out for you: the only reason the most benefits are associated with with people who qualify based on the number of nights is because BUSINESS-WISE it makes a lot of sense. You want to reward people who stay the most at your properties if you are a hospitality company. After all, it is the “raison d’etre” of loyalty programs!!!

    The reason Hilton has their loyalty program is to generate revenue, and their decision to reward people who stay the most at their properties (as measured by the number of nights) makes perfect sense. It is the same concept behind the new co-brand cards that they are about to introduce. The ASPIRE card will award the HH Diamond status for $450/year and whopping 14HH points/$ for spend at HH properties. However, unless one actually stays at Hilton properties and spends some money there, the card will be largely a dud. The status “given away” is designed to encourage people to stay at Hilton properties and the way the benefits are structured is to reward those, like yours truly, who will stay and spend their money at HH properties regardless. For Hilton, that would be “mission accomplished.”

    I got over 1M HH points this year starting from just over 10K HH points left after my last Big-Time redemption. I bet you that I will double that haul after I get the ASPIRE card and maintain my pattern of staying almost exclusively at Hilton properties as I do currently. The changes and the new cards are designed to attract people to stay at Hilton properties. To do anything else — like HGP did with their Diamond challenges — would be boneheaded, a pejorative that does not apply to the folks who have been running Hilton Honors since their current visionary CEO, Chris J. Nassetta, was handpicked to run the company.

    We’re done here.

    G’day!

  42. I’m guessing that you completely avoided my arguments, DCS, because you know that I’m right. The new benefits do absolutely nothing for Diamonds who earn via stays or via spend and who have less than 40 nights, and even then, you can’t bring yourself to admit that.

    It’s obvious to everyone else but you, apparently, but it needs to be said yet again — just because it is something that is of benefit to you, that doesn’t mean that it’s of benefit to everyone.

  43. @DCS: “The reason Hilton has their loyalty program is to generate revenue, and their decision to reward people who stay the most at their properties (as measured by the number of nights) makes perfect sense.”

    So, in a world where only nights matter, it’s more logical to reward someone who spends 60 nights in a $75 Hampton Inn than it is to have 30 stays in a $200/night Hilton, or 30 nights in a $400/night Conrad (all of which would earn Diamond).

    (The reality here is the usual – DCS can’t admit being wrong about anything, so ridiculous statements come out to defend just about anything, such as his claim about how it doesn’t matter how Diamond is earned that he already refuted.)

  44. @Mike — You really cannot not be that (putting it charitably) “tone-deaf”. I just squarely addressed your argument and explained why it makes perfect BUSINESS SENSE for Hilton to reward those who qualify based on the number of nights. If you wish to be among them, the CHOICE of how you qualify is YOURS. To bitch that those who qualify based on the number of nights get rewarded the most, when they actually DO DESERVE to be from a business point of view, is simply not very smart…

  45. @DCS: “You really cannot not be that (putting it charitably) “tone-deaf”. I just squarely addressed your argument and explained why it makes perfect BUSINESS SENSE for Hilton to reward those who qualify based on the number of nights. If you wish to be among them, the CHOICE of how you qualify is YOURS. To bitch that those who qualify based on the number of nights get rewarded the most, when they actually DO DESERVE to be from a business point of view, is simply not very smart…”

    And I am saying that Hilton’s choice of nights as the only criteria that matters is a slap in the face to the people who qualify other ways — particularly to those who qualify by points, who are likely to spend far more than the people who earn by nights or stays.

    Further, you are the one who said that Hilton does not differentiate between Diamonds, and now you are admitting that they do. Make up your mind.

  46. @Mike — You are saying that Hilton should avoid making a sound business decision in order to satisfy people who ELECT to qualify in ways that are not financially beneficial to the company, which is total bunk.

    It is like self-anointed “travel gurus” pushing the notion that “guaranteed late checkout” makes a loyalty program elite-friendly, which may be the case, but it is a totally disastrous and boneheaded business decision, which is why Hilton has never adopted it, electing to offer it on a case by case basis to avoid inconveniencing folks checking in because some fat elite has been allowed to check out late even if that would infringe on the time of an incoming guest.

    Just because something is “good” for members or elites (cf: HGP LUCRATIVE Diamond ‘challenges’ that gave away the store prior to anyone even meeting the ‘challenge’) does not mean it makes sense as a BUSINESS decision — a simple concept to grasp, especially if you are looking at it from the viewpoint of a for-profit company like Hilton..

    G’day.

  47. @DCS: Your continued blathering about what is or is not a good business decision for Hilton only reinforces the point that I have been making all along:

    Whether you like it or not, the perks that Hilton has introduced are not a positive change for all Diamonds, and for the people who are completely unaffected because they earn Diamond through stays or base points, these changes do absolutely nothing positive regarding the strength or quality of the Honors program.

    Anything that you’re saying right now in response to that is, in effect, blaming people for qualifying for Diamond via points or stays when you think they should have qualified by nights. Your act only grows more and more tiresome as time passes, DCS.

  48. If a guaranteed late checkout (no quotes needed, that’s why it’s guaranteed) is a “totally disastrous and boneheaded business decision”, Marriott would have never adopted it. Case closed. However, they saw how popular it is w/SPGers (as well as Hyatt folks), AND realizing actual cost impact is low (most people aren’t checking in before 4 anyways, and there will always be rooms turning over).

    Funny, I see a lot of posts on FT from HH Diamonds bemoaning the inability to stay in their room past noon. So much for “loyalty”.

    DCS just speaking to himself again, bloviating away, unable to see the good from the other side. Reminds me of someone, hmmm….

  49. I can’t let @Mike have all the fun of defending us against @DCS. So, let me make a couple points to support @Mike.

    It IS unclear to me (as a person who has been responsible for multi million dollar P&Ls, that is to say, I’ve had to run a business and make a profit) why Hilton chooses to reward someone who stays 100 nights at a $75 hampton more than someone who stays 15 nights at a $500 Conrad. That second person is a far more valuable customer to me even though both spent the same amount on room nights. Because lets be clear — as a business it costs me far less to have someone in the Conrad for 15 nights than in the hampton for 100 nights. And full services hotels generate far more ancillary revenue.

    Now, since most Hiltons (and chain hotels in general) are franchised, there may be something that I don’t know about the agreements that drive Hilton to care ONLY about total nights stayed and not about the total revenue earned. Maybe @lucky has some insight into the revenue model that I don’t have. I’d be interested.

    Also, it’s not true that you have ‘a choice’ to qualify on nights rather than stays. In the strictest sense it is true but not in the practical sense. If Mike has 35 nights of business and vacation per year at Hiltons, he’s not going to manufacture 25 more nights. There is a cost to that — a substantial one if you live someplace like I do where room rates rarely drop below $200 a night at the Hilton Garden Inn and are typically over $400 for the properties (including the HGI) within a 30 mile radius of my home. (yes, really, google hotel rates in major cities…) I’d do a mattress run if I were a couple nights short of requalifying if I didn’t have lifetime status. But I’m not going to mattress run to for significant numbers of nights to meet threshhold bonuses and that’s what @Mike is telling you if you’d stop defending Hilton to the death and listen.

    I agree with @Mike that Hilton isn’t valuing all their customers the same. That’s their right but I’ll be darned if I can figure out why.

    On to my second point. I GUARANTEE you that Hilton is not trying to reward people like you who would stay with them regardless. If they could refuse you their fancy new credit card. They want to give you as little as possible without driving you away because that maximizes their revenue and profit. Giving you MORE benefits if you’re going to stay regardless is a waste of money that they would like to spend on other customers.

    I DO think you’re right that they believe that if they give status in advance people will change their loyalty. And that if people don’t stay the credit card is more profitable. However I think they underestimate how many people will stay just enough to use the once a year perks. Profitability will depend on how much revenue is driven vs. people who just use the perks vs. people who don’t stay at all. If you’re not loyal to Hilton and get the Hilton card you’re not likely to become loyal to them unless they wow you. And that brings me to my last point where your head explodes @DCS.

    I don’t disagree that hotels in Asia, in general do a better job. I’ll stipulate to always getting an executive room at the Conrad Singapore. However, most of us who frequent this site spend most of our time at US Hiltons family hotels which generally don’t wow anyone. We don’t call ahead or stand at the front desk insisting on an upgrade and generally, they fail to deliver. Even at the Conrad in London I booked a one bedroom suite and they stuck me (a Diamond) in the crappiest 1 bedroom suite in the hotel. They moved me to the best room in the class (NOT an upgrade) after I complained to the GM. So, Hilton HQ may or may not care about diamonds and golds. But they are certainly not doing anything to encourage their hotels to care. Pretty much everyone else has a different experience than yours. As Marriott Plat, IHG Plat and Hilton Diamond, Hilton is consistently the worst in treatment of their top tier elites – at least for me.

    Ok, one more point. Not all changes are positive. Hilton has routinely devalued their program.

    Remember the 100,000 points for 7 nights anywhere in the world for elites award? I do. Vacation every year for the better part of a decade. Gone.

    Remember points & fixed miles where you could get 1000 miles with virgin (500 for other airlines) on a $60 hotel stay? Gone.

    Remember welcome gifts at nearly every hotel? Gone.

    I could go on but I have things to do. Fact is @DCS, you can love Hilton, although for the life of me I don’t know why you love them so much. But try to accept that not everyone else has the same experience that you do and that every change the company makes is not for the benefit of Honors members. The changes are designed to increase profitability and drive revenue. They will do their best to spin those as positive but they are in business to make money, nothing more.

  50. Hey, folks, bottom line: I do not give a shit. No programmatic changes have ever made everyone happy. What you fail to see and it is really easy to see is that Hilton tells no one how they should make status. They offer options and then choose to associate somewhat higher benefits with those who qualify using an option that is financially beneficial to the company.

    Another way to look at this is from the Diamond members’ point of view:

    Member A: stays with Hilton exclusively, earns Diamond the “hard way” based on the number of nights, which s/he even consistently exceeds.

    Member B: earns Diamond through the ASPIRE card by simply paying the $450 AF. Other than that the member rarely stays at Hilton properties.

    In which sane world would it make sense for anyone, especially member B, to bitch that the “company” rewards member A more than member B? The “unfairness” would be blatantly manifest if member A, after spending 2x number of nights required to make Diamond, ends up with the same benefit as member B, who simply spent $450 to make Diamond…

    See? You have no point. Hilton did it exactly right in trying to differentiate “classes” of members depending on how they opt to qualify for status and their relative financial worth to the company. Get used to it or get lost.

  51. So, in summary, DCS (having successfully argued every possible position in order to be right) has told us this:

    1) Hilton does not differentiate between Diamonds.
    2) Hilton differentiates between Diamonds, but it’s okay because it’s a smart business decision.
    3) These new perks are awesome for everyone.
    4) These new perks aren’t awesome for everyone, but it’s okay because it’s a smart business decision.

    Frankly, I think this says more about DCS than anything at this point.

    All that aside, I’ve said everything that there is to say about this — this wasn’t a good move for all Diamonds, in spite of what Ben and others will want you to believe. And frankly, the only thing it’s done is drive me to stay less at Hilton, since there really isn’t going to be anything I get from my ~35 stays that I can’t get by spending the $450 annual fee from the Aspire card.

    This, I’m sure, is EXACTLY the “smart business decision” that DCS meant.

  52. I have no idea what you hope to accomplish with such a clear lack of comprehension of the most basic rationale of these changes!!!

    Every other major program has tried to differentiate among their elites at the very top. That is: How do you reward members who go above and beyond? It is why SPG has different Plat levels. It is Hilton’s attempt to accomplish the same thing. Since this does not seem obvious to you and you think there is a contradiction in my position, let me spell it out for you because you are clearly too ignorant (though annoyingly vociferous) to get it:

    — Hilton guarantees a basic level of benefits for all Diamonds. Got that?
    — Hilton has decided that as a company that is in the business to make money, after providing the basic level of benefits to ALL Diamonds, they will reward those Diamonds who do go “above and beyond” in giving their business to Hilton — that just like what SPG or WoH has done, except that Hilton’s implementation of it will actually differentiate the HH Diamonds levels meaningfully (you are already bitching about it, aren’t you? That is called “effective differentiation”, so it is already working…)

    I had to make it very simple so that even you, @Mike, would get it once and for all and just let up rather than to keep making of fool of yourself.

    I am off to HKG in just a few hours, so I really done here.

    Goodbye!

  53. @DCS: “I have no idea what you hope to accomplish with such a clear lack of comprehension of the most basic rationale of these changes!!!”

    And I have no idea why you don’t comprehend that the rationale for the changes doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that the changes are not good for me, and I am merely expressing my opinion of the end result of the changes, whether you like it or not.

    Not everything in life is about you, DCS. Got that?

  54. “just like what SPG or WoH has done, except that Hilton’s implementation of it will actually differentiate the HH Diamonds levels meaningfully”

    One of DCS’ more stupid points…SNAs at 50 nights (never had one out of 40 earned expire BTW), Your24 at 75 nights + 33% more points, Ambassador at 100 nights. Nope, not differentiated at all. Nothing different about them one bit.

  55. @Mike — If you bothered to understand why the changes are not good for you, you’d do us all a favour and shut the hell up because we do not care that your own circumstances put you on the wrong side of the the changes. Got that?

    @UA-NYC. Please go back to grade school…

  56. @DCS: “If you bothered to understand why the changes are not good for you, you’d do us all a favour and shut the hell up because we do not care that your own circumstances put you on the wrong side of the the changes. Got that?”

    Again, DCS, not everything is about you. You’re not the only one who is allowed to have an opinion.

    Get help.

  57. @DCS, how about you stop insulting people and respond directly and productively. While I do occasionally enjoy poking the bear (that you in case you’re confused) I skip the comments on most Hilton threads because you are so tiresome.

    Unless you are Hilton corporate management, you don’t know why they made the decisions they did. I’m mystified by some (as I’ve said) but willing to allow that they had a rationale that I don’t know. That said, not all business decisions are good. If they were there would be many more successful businesses.

    I’ve had enough for this thread. But next time, maybe you should try to understand others and seek dialogue. Have you noticed that you have no allies in this discussion, but that @Mike has picked up a couple? Ponder that.

  58. @AD — Read my posts. They have been nothing but attempts to squarely address people’s misconceptions, and that is what they have usually turned out to be.

    If you have anything specific you’d like for me to address, I will be more than happy to. Otherwise, you are just adding to “noise”.

    G’day.

  59. @Mike — This is now more than tedious. You come here and express what we all understand to be your opinions (in long tedious posts), and then you keep getting bent out of shape because I too do the same. Do you see why you now need a different tack? I, just like you, am entitled to express my opinions and, yet, you twist yourself into a pretzel because I do what I have been doing for a few years now, which is to express my opinions like everyone else here. Why that irritates is a different thing altogether: my opinions have usually turned out to be correct.

    You are worse than pathetic.

    G’day!

  60. “Get help” except that after years of challenging the dogma there is no evidence that I need anyone’s help. Again and again I have been shown to be right and will be yet again this time.

    Look at my “Anatomy of a Big-Time Redemption” (link above) and get a clue about just who needs “help”, then stop being so clueless!

  61. @DCS, you have not responded directly to anything I wrote in my lengthy post yesterday or what most of the other have said. You live in a fantasy world. But you do seem to enjoy it.

  62. @AD — My views on the programmatic changes should now are clear. Take a comprehension course or stop trying to address me.

  63. @DCS: “I, just like you, am entitled to express my opinions and, yet, you twist yourself into a pretzel because I do what I have been doing for a few years now, which is to express my opinions like everyone else here.”

    You are not a victim here — don’t pretend that you’re one. The only thing you do is proclaim you are right about anything — even after you bend your argument repeatedly to do so — and insult anyone who disagrees with you.

    If anyone is twisting themselves into a pretzel in this thread, DCS, it’s you. Get over yourself, and get help for your NPD.

  64. 3:51AM in Bangkok now so it is getting tough to focus, but let me fix the preceding and go to bed so that I can make my TG flight to HKG: “My views on the programmatic changes should now BE clear…”

  65. @DCS, you said you responded to my comments and offered to respond to my specific comments. I pointed you to those comments and said you hadn’t responded. You decided to respond with an insult because you are incapable of defending your positions when asked direct questions that require a logical and thoughtful response. Once again, you’ve chosen to respond and prove that you don’t have a logical argument rather than remaining silent and allowing us to wonder if you don’t have one. Feel free to continue. I’ll let someone else take over should they choose to and retire to eating popcorn and watching, but I think everyone else may be done with you for the moment too.

  66. @ Lucky – Hilton is not doing anything “radical” or “new.” They are just following in suit with the industry trends. How many airline and hotel or credit card programs allow you to mix cash with points? How many credit card or hotel programs allow you to transfer points between family members? In regards to your Amazon.com, comment, it is a well worthy benefit for people like me who do not often stay at a Hilton hotel compared to other hotel brands, so it could give me a way to easily redeem the points.

  67. I am a diamond member with HHoners since 2005. Hilton rarely gives an upgrade to suites, even not to a corner room. Conrad and Waldorf Astoria give room upgrade to a suite if you stay few times in the same property and request in advance for an upgrade.

    However, I am also Platinum with SPG for 5 years. Ritz Carlton, Courtyard, Sheraton, Four Points, and St Regis give an upgrade to suites almost (50%) of my stays, even if I stay for the first time in these properties.

    In Hilton, every time I ask front desk why not to upgrade even for a corner room. I get the same response since 2005 (the hotel is full). But I ask myself why I do not get this answer from SPG, even after unifying with Marriott.

    SPG has three levels in Platinum, they highly respect Platinum members by giving late checkouts and upgrades.

    I fully agree with “AD” regarding Hilton does not “wow” you at all, no upgrades, no late checkout. Moreover, I staid in Conrad London five times, not a single upgrade, nor late checkout!

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