I received an email this morning from Mark Weinstein, the Vice President of HHonors and Partnerships at Hilton, which in part read as follows (bolding is mine):
I wanted to personally let you know we are updating a few hotels’ reward categories as part of our periodic review process and, even more specifically, share with you that this year we will not be making any major reward category changes or introducing new hotel reward categories. We are taking steps to be even more transparent by better communicating adjustments within the reward categories directly to members and advocates like yourself.
Effective April 15, 2014, 25 of our hotels and resorts (0.6% of our properties) will be increasing hotel category, and 14 of our hotels and resorts (0.3% of our properties) will be decreasing hotel category. We’ve made these modifications based on periodic reviews of our hotel reward categories as new hotels join the program and market dynamics change. The Hilton HHonors Standard Room Rewards Point Pricing Tool will reflect these changes as of April 15.
In addition, we will be shifting away from the cycle of annual reward category announcements. I believe that through transparency in our communications, we can develop a greater level of trust, which is critical to a healthy relationship with our members. To that end, we want to give members full visibility into any hotel category adjustments – including the introduction of new redemption hotels – so we will be sharing an updated list of adjusted hotels on HHonors.com on a periodic basis. HHonors members will be able to see which hotels are changing categories, as well as the category assignments for new hotels. This list, the Standard Room Rewards Update, can be found on the HHonors.com Using Points page under Standard Room Hotel Categories.
As many of you may remember, Hilton sort of gutted their award chart last year, by adding award categories and introducing seasonal pricing. Ultimately the change in redemption costs very much reflected the costs incurred by HHonors for award redemptions — high end properties went WAY up in price, while lower end properties mostly stayed the same and in some cases even went down in price. Of course this was incredibly frustrating for those of us that redeemed points for “aspirational” properties. In fairness, they did provide plenty of advance notice of the changes, so we weren’t blindsighted by them.
So I’m not surprised to see that they’re not making any major changes this year.
More importantly, though, I love Mark’s email and his approach. He’s outright saying they won’t be making any major reward category changes or introducing new hotel categories for the rest of the year. It’s rare you get an “absolute” out of an executive at a loyalty program, so I love that.
And the timing on this email is kind of funny, one day after the “new” American broke the trust of AAdvantage and Dividend Miles members, not just by making major changes without any notice, but by communicating them in a dishonest way.
I continue to use Hilton as my “backup” hotel chain. While I’m primarily loyal to Hyatt and Starwood, Hilton has a much more extensive hotel portfolio. If they had more of an official stance on suite upgrades I might even make them a primary chain long term.
Regardless, after yesterday’s communication I kind of found the email (and idea behind it) refreshing.