Hilton Honors Already Poking Fun At New Marriott Loyalty Program

The Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest programs are being integrated as we speak, and it sure isn’t taking long for Hilton to try and poach elites.

I remember Hilton ran an aggressive status match campaign shortly after Marriott’s takeover of Starwood was announced, but now they’re taking out some targeted Facebook ads that I sort of dig.

My friend Scott sent me a screenshot he saw on Facebook promoting Hilton status matches, with the following caption:

“Only Hilton Honors offers free breakfast at every brand. We’ll match your status so you can eat elite. Is your mouth watering yet?”

Clearly they’re referring to how Marriott still won’t offer elite members complimentary breakfast at all brands with their new loyalty program.

Now, in fairness, Hilton’s ad is actually dishonest. World of Hyatt also offers top tier elite members free breakfast at all brands. That’s unless they’re somehow counting Mlife properties as Hyatt hotels, which doesn’t really seem fair.

But Hilton does deserve credit in general for the ways in which they’ve improved their program. They used to not offer free breakfast at Waldorf Astoria properties, but they finally added it as a benefit at the beginning of the year, so they now have a consistent breakfast benefit.

What’s Marriott’s excuse, again?

Comments

  1. At many Waldorf’s, it’s a donut and coffee benefit (i.e., a $15 credit, which doens’t buy a continental breakfast, which at a minimum is coffee, juice, pastry).

    Glad to see them take a swing at Marriott though.

  2. The actual reason? 😛

    Footprint. Difficult to convince 100 Ritz owners to change when they already do well in brand ratings. Very easy to convince 25 Waldorf owners to do it when they don’t compare well to direct competition in metrics and KPI.

    Also interesting food for thought (given for free since this isn’t Marriott):

    Is a chain with 6500 properties that offers breakfast at 5500 better? Or a chain with 5000 properties that offers breakfast at 5000 of them. I haven’t tallied exact numbers but wouldn’t be surprised if more Marriott chain properties offered breakfast than Hiltons.

    Do the extra ~1000 properties that withhold breakfast (beyond the 500 more than Hilton that do) make the chain weaker somehow?

    *Numbers not accurate, just a thought experiment

  3. Vineet is right – Marriott has management and franchise contracts with hundreds, if not thousands of owners. All of those Courtyard owners signed long term contracts assuming they would not have to pay for free breakfast. Marriott probably can’t go back on that legally. And the reason Marriott was able to buy Starwood in the first place is that those hotel owners love Marriott and build so many of their hotels. Remember, Marriott’s real customer is the hotel owner.

  4. Yes but Vineet, Courtyard’s are about location. When Marriott said breakfast at all brands that was a major plus for them and I personally made a fair few bookings with them believing they were going to deliver. They didn’t and my refundable bookings were all cancelled.

  5. Marriott should run an ad offering Hilton loyals a place to hang out when they get kicked out of their Hilton room at 12pm sharp

  6. Well, considering how badly Marriott has screwed up the new program that hasn’t even begun, I can’t blame Hilton for taking some free potshots.

  7. I’m spending more of my money and time with Hilton these days, but pushing for hotel status and loyalty doesn’t seem all that worth it. For business travel, i’d rather stay at the conference hotel or the hotel closest to my meetings. Most of my travel is paid for by a corporate card, so earnings on paid stays (excluding any credit card bonus) is critical. For leisure travel, I’ll redeem points, pay cash at the most convenient hotel, or splurge for properties like Four Seasons.

    Hilton seems to offer the best deal for customers like me, with strong earnings on paid stays and good cards. With basic spending on both the Aspire and Ascend and some paid stays, you can easily earn 150,000 Hilton points and a couple of free weekend nights every year. That’s a free three day weekend stay at any of Hilton’s top properties. Marriott is solid, and I’ll book a few Marriott stays a year for work,but I’m happy staying there occasionally and using the limited benefits of Gold status. The loss of lounge access does hurt. Marriott will still have some attractive aspirational redemptions, but Marriott points will be harder to earn going forward.

  8. Courtyard vs Hilton Garden is a perfect example.

    Overpriced ‘Bistro’ or Free cooked to order breakfast for Gold members? Seems like a no brainer. Especially when with the latest HGI remodel. They kept the desks and added work chairs.

  9. I did a Hilton Diamond status may have to hedge Marriott not delivering on their promises. looks like a good bet but so far not impressed after 8 Hilton stays. Looks like I’m going free agent like I do with airlines.

  10. I’m loyal with Marriott for another year until I lock in my lifetime Platinum and then I’m a free agent. That being said, I want nothing to do with Hyatt. They lost me…..

  11. HGV and Hilton are completely different companies, they parted ways sometime ago. They only share the name Hilton. One has nothing to do with the other.

  12. @Jax. Fair enough but, based on my stay at Elara in Las Vegas, they also share buildings, pools, security guards… (although check-in was handled sepately in two distinct parts of the lobby). I’d like to understand the relationship better. Maybe a future OMAAT post?

  13. Hotel programs are going the way of airline programs — diluted, watered down, and increasingly too complicated to figure out.

  14. You guys can fight it out and CapitalOne will gain at least a few more spoils. On a totally unrelated subject Chase has upped the cash back on some of its Shop through Chase categories for the at least the Freedom (not Sapphire). The little men cards are winning…

  15. read the Hilton ad, it says “offers free”…meaning take points or get breakfast, thats the ‘offer’. Other than maybe Garden Inn, its frozen egg mix microwaved, and either heat and serve meat, and thaw and serve pastries. Garbage. And I know, cuz I have over 190 nights at Hilton brands this year alone. And how big the spread is depends on the property. I can say this, If I drop $350+ a night on a room, I better get ‘free’ breakfast, and it better not be garbage. Dont even get me started on what a zoo some properties are at peak free breakfast hour. Its survival of the fittest. I get my coffee and leave.

  16. HVG still participates in Hilton Honors, however. I stayed last month at The Grand Islander by HGV in Honolulu and earned all points, including those from two promos, that I would have earned at a non-HGV Hilton property. It’s an all-suite property, but I scored a Diamond upgrade to a higher floor and partial ocean-view from a resort-view suite on a lower floor.

  17. Hilton is winning my business over seas. If I, as a Gold with both, don’t get a nice breakfast at a full service, why should I even bother with the other brand?

    We we’re just looking at booking a Marriott for 5 days from now and opted away from it because ebreakfast would no longer be included.

  18. @Andrew — Hilton’s dig here is only partially about Marriott properties that do not offer breakfast. The dig is really about the new Gold Elite status that no longer gets breakfast. Folks with this downgraded status, and there are many of them, are the ones I would try to lure if I were Hilton, and the message is exactly right, as you just attested.

  19. @DCS no one was downgraded though. All the people that achieved gold before the merger are now Platinums as the requirements changed. So no gold is staying a gold and losing out on say the late C/O

  20. #FactCheck – the new “Gold” status is half the nights of the old “Gold”, now renamed “Platinum” (the latter of which has the same benefits before, with a number of improved ones actually)

    (always helps to deal in, you know, actual facts…)

  21. Does anyone know what this moron is fact-checking or blabbing about? New MR Gold Elites will have no breakfast. No one was referring to the old Gold elite who will be transitioned to plat (I will one of these until January if claims are right, so I know). It is time for OMAAT to send this guy permanently back to FT, where he will be right at home among thousands like him.

  22. Unfortunately, Yes I stayed at a Hilton Brand Hotel in Buckhead Atlanta ( Embassy Suites/ on Peachtree Rd.) Yes, the Breakfast was free, But they Stay was Absolutely Horrific!! For 265. A night, Racist Front Desk Representative named Luke, Overcharging my credit card by $1851.+ instead of a 250. Incidental Charge, kept charging my card without authorization, held 276.00 3 weeks after I left the hotel. Spoke to several Customer Correspondents, was promised to get a full refund of $1574.+ dollars, waited 2 weeks, they lied didn’t keep their word. Called Headquarters, They pretty said I would not receive my refund after threatening legal, which was another lie!! (I was told Luke said I threatened Legal, but I NEVER EVEN Spoke to Him after leaving the hotel)
    And when I asked did they have proof, I was told no…. But they Would not refund my money!! Worst stay ever, Will NEVER STAY AGAIN!!
    PLEASE DO NOT SUPPORT HILTON, TOU CAN DO BETTER!! THANKS FOR LISTENING!!

  23. Hilton properties actually serve “free continental breakfast” which in some cases is just toast and oatmeal and for the rest, e.g. egg based dishes, are at normal rates. I wouldnt summarize this as “free breakfast” really.

  24. DCS’ claim – “The dig is really about the new Gold Elite status that no longer gets breakfast” – is not a factual statement at all.

    The “new Gold Elite status” is a 25 night status level that never existed with Marriott before. Ergo, it is not possible that it “no longer gets breakfast”.

    Hilton’s ad has nothing to do with status levels at Marriott, and everything to do that (IIRC) 4 or 5 of Marriott’s 30 brands don’t offer breakfast.

    (again – helps to deal in facts)

  25. I cannot spend any time explaining the obvious to you, as it made no sense to you that SPG’s upgrade policy was just of the garden variety.

    I am pulling the plug on this and any other thread where you’re lurking.

    Knock yourself out.

  26. Well, All Marriott did was upgrade all the members to one step up. The Silver members now they are Gold, the Gold become Platinum. Now the old Gold members still have free breakfast and their 1000 point bonus. The old Silvers (new Gold) gets 500 points bonus when they check in.

  27. New to this site, but sounds like the comments will be more pleasant if @DCS really does leave. But from my experience, those threatening to leave rarely do.

  28. @Erica Davis calling Luke a racist is a pretty strong accusation without listing any proof of why other than he made some error in billing you and you are struggling to get it corrected. Reading your rant, I imagine your anger is overriding your attempts at getting this corrected. I am lifetime Hilton Diamond and have had an issue or two with billing over my 1000+ night stays but they were corrected immediately by the credit card company once I saw the error and notified them. Take a breath and fix it the easy way, call your credit card company and dispute the charge.

  29. @Eric Davis: The time you now spend not staying at Hilton’s LOL, maybe you should take an English grammar course.

  30. Not understanding how its fair to the “earned Marriott Platinum” member if Gold member (cvia United partnership, Mileage+) gets moved up to Platinum. What is Marriott offering (old) Platinum who become Platinum Elite? // Free lounge access/breakfast for both? Many Exec lounges are too full during breakfast prime-time to find seats!!).

  31. As far as Hilton is concerned, many of their small hotels like Hampton in Laramie wy has the best breakfast around. It is free for all guests. If they can do it all of these hotels can. Businesses cutting corners should be seen for what they are- stingy money-grubbers.

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