Hilton Won’t Offer Elite Lounge Access At New Signia By Hilton Brand

Hilton Won’t Offer Elite Lounge Access At New Signia By Hilton Brand

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Hilton sure is heading in the wrong direction lately when it comes to elite benefits and guest experience.

Signia by Hilton won’t offer Hilton Honors elite members lounge access

Signia by Hilton is Hilton’s newest hotel brand, which was first revealed back in 2019. As it’s described, this is Hilton’s new “meetings-and-events focused brand.” Essentially this brand will consist of larger hotels with a lot of meeting space.

Signia by Hilton properties will have a focus on conferences

The first Signia by Hilton will be a rebrand of an existing Hilton. Specifically, as of July 12, 2021, the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek will become the Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. While there will be some newly built properties in the portfolio, it’s also clear that this is largely just a marketing play, given that this hotel is changing brands without a major refresh.

Anyway, with the launch of Signia by Hilton, there’s an interesting update when it comes to Hilton Honors benefits. Hilton Honors Gold and Hilton Honors Diamond members won’t be entitled to executive lounge access at all Signia by Hilton properties worldwide. Historically Diamond members have always received lounge access, while Gold members have received lounge access when upgraded to an executive room.

Here’s how a Hilton Honors spokesperson justifies this change:

As we continue to grow the Signia by Hilton brand, Club Signia will offer a premium experience and amenities beyond those of our existing executive lounges. Access to Club Signia will be available for an additional cost, therefore Diamond members will not receive access as part of their benefits.

For context, up until now, Hilton hasn’t excluded executive lounge access for elite members at any brand. Instead there have only been a few Conrad and Waldorf Astoria properties where lounge access has been prohibited. This includes the Sakura Club at the Conrad Washington DC, the Imperial Club at the Waldorf Astoria Rome, and the Pearl Club at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai.

In each case these are named lounges that genuinely do offer service above-and-beyond what you’d usually find at Hilton family properties, so while I don’t love that concept, I kind of get it.

Sakura Club at the Conrad Washington DC

What’s Hilton’s real motivation here?

Hilton is claiming that this policy is in place because Club Signia lounges will offer “a premium experience and amenities beyond those of our existing lounges.” This is the logic that Marriott uses for denying Bonvoy Platinum members and above access to Ritz-Carlton executive lounges.

Marriott Bonvoy elite members don’t get Ritz-Carlton lounge access

However, I have a hard time believing that logic for Signia by Hilton properties. Will Signia by Hilton lounges in the United States offer complimentary alcohol, and a more substantial food selection? I suppose anything is possible, but I have a hard time believing this for a brand that’s ultimately operating large conference hotels. Signia by Hilton isn’t an ultra-luxury brand.

To me the much more likely explanation is that this is a cost cutting measure:

  • Convention hotels are likely to have the most business travelers
  • Business travelers are the most likely to have elite status with a hotel group
  • If all Hilton Honors Diamond and Hilton Honors Gold members were to get lounge access, I could see these lounges getting pretty crowded; then again, many lounges already are

It’s sad to see the direction Hilton is taking

For the past few years, Hilton has impressed me — the hotel group has opened all kinds of new aspirational and luxury properties, the Hilton Honors program has in many ways improved (for example, breakfast was added as an elite perk at Waldorf Astoria properties), and it has been extremely to earn Hilton Honors elite status with credit cards, with the Hilton Aspire Card being my favorite.

But as we slowly see a return to normal following the worst of the pandemic in the United States, it seems that Hilton has had a change of heart, and is putting higher margins ahead of a superior customer experience. Earlier this year Hilton’s CEO warned that coronavirus related service cuts were largely permanent, and that hotels would become higher margin and more labor efficient businesses.

We’re really seeing that happen now in the United States, as Hilton has cut automatic daily housekeeping, and has replaced complimentary breakfast with a food & beverage credit. All of these changes clearly accomplish exactly what Hilton’s CEO set out to do — to make hotels higher margin and create more labor efficiencies. And that’s not good news for guests.

Hilton has replaced free breakfast with a food & beverage credit

Bottom line

Signia by Hilton is Hilton’s newest brand, and the first property will be opening next week in Orlando (though in reality it’s just a rebrand of an existing Hilton). Ahead of the brand’s launch, Hilton has clarified that elite members won’t receive executive lounge access at these properties.

It’s claimed that this is because the lounges at these properties will offer an improved experience. I’m skeptical as to whether or not that will be the case, but regardless it’s hard to view this as anything but a cost cutting measure.

For so long Hilton was doing so well, headed in the right direction. Unfortunately the pandemic seems to have changed that, and Hilton is now headed in a new direction.

What do you make of Hilton’s decision to deny lounge access to elites at its newest brand?

(Tip of the hat to Loyalty Lobby)

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  1. Diane

    Is there a list of Hilton properties with executive lounges ... in the US and abroad? The Park Ave London Hilton had a wonderful lounge.

  2. Pravin

    Hilton sold $1billion points to AmEx during pandemics. Now those points getting redeemed and staus being upgraded.

  3. Ron

    Ok my months and months out of the year in a hilton hotel now matter even less? Diamond elite isn't really that I guess. Time to pick another chain that gives all the perks. Glad I help decide were the 300+ people stay for 110 days of the year. I will say shopping for a new hotel chain is coming.

  4. Gail Davis

    It is very sad to see the changes Hilton is taking. We let our Westin/Marriott ties go and have gone full throttle Hilton. We understood and stayed loyal during the pandemic and this is the result. Very sad indeed

  5. Joe1293

    I honestly loved this
    Way to go Hilton Honors as a Hilton Diamond
    I am beyond proud of these moves over the recent weeks

  6. cahbf

    The Bonvoy-ification of Hilton continues apace. Somewhere in Hyatt HQ people are getting huge raises and bonuses and credit for doing nothing more than holding the line while Hilton and Marriott destroy themselves

  7. Andy

    This is extremely disappointing, as it the replacment of the breakfast benefit by a minimal voucher.

  8. Charlene

    Took us 10 years and 1000 nights to earn Lifetime Diamond and I get same perks as someone who signs up with a credit card last month. So much for loyalty. Not surprised but extremely disappointing.

    1. Michael klein

      We went the same way to receive lifetime Diamond. The only value it had last weekend at a Hilton was as $10 voucher for food. Time to change brands to one that appreciates their guests.

  9. Peter

    Too bad that my earned lifetime diamond status of starting to become less and less valuable.

  10. Lukas

    As someone who earned Hilton Diamond by being somewhat loyal to the brand, the recent changes are very disappointing. Currently writing this from an overpriced Hilton property that won’t enter my room to clean ”due to Covid” (but staff don’t wear masks and no other covid measures are in effect), don’t offer breakfast ”due to covid” and have closed their lounge ”due to covid”. Meanwhile I stayed in a low-end Comfort Inn before this stay,...

    As someone who earned Hilton Diamond by being somewhat loyal to the brand, the recent changes are very disappointing. Currently writing this from an overpriced Hilton property that won’t enter my room to clean ”due to Covid” (but staff don’t wear masks and no other covid measures are in effect), don’t offer breakfast ”due to covid” and have closed their lounge ”due to covid”. Meanwhile I stayed in a low-end Comfort Inn before this stay, where they offered daily housekeeping and full breakfast. What a joke. Also recently stayed in a Garden Inn where they gave the new 10 bucks breakfast credit but the cheapest breakfast option was 17 (!).

  11. Alex

    Makes perfect sense, they want to keep the senior management from commingling with all the Diamond members which have the card but are not senior managers. Would do the same thing, it should not impact in other hotels.

  12. Matthew

    Note that the Hilton Bonnett Creek (which is a convention-focused property) doesn't even HAVE an executive lounge - you get breakfast in buffet (continental only). And now just the credit - against $18 for the continental breakfast. Sigh.

  13. DCS

    For so long Hilton was doing so well, headed in the right direction. Unfortunately the pandemic seems to have changed that, and Hilton is now headed in a new direction.

    A "new direction"? Possibly, as I suspect much of what we are seeing may simply be necessary adjustments as the world emerges from the pandemic. Is this "new direction" a bad thing? I sincerely doubt it, for if I earned a penny every time a...

    For so long Hilton was doing so well, headed in the right direction. Unfortunately the pandemic seems to have changed that, and Hilton is now headed in a new direction.

    A "new direction"? Possibly, as I suspect much of what we are seeing may simply be necessary adjustments as the world emerges from the pandemic. Is this "new direction" a bad thing? I sincerely doubt it, for if I earned a penny every time a self-anointed travel "guru" predicted that one change or another instituted by Hilton Honors gutted the program or spelled its demise I would be a millionaire by now!

    Time and again, the program has defied countless predictions of doom to emerge as the last and only standing viable hotel loyalty program after beloved SPG went belly-up, Hyatt Gold Passport transformed into a “boutique” or niche program appropriately called WOH!, and Marriott gutted -- i.e., BonVoyed -- their once thriving Reward program by trying to be like SPG.

    I have a prediction of my own: Hilton Honors will remain the stable, innovative, vibrant and rewarding program that it’s been for the last several years while its competition was either failing or undergoing metamorphosis in search of identity…

    1. Regis

      SPG did not go "belly up"; it was acquired by a competitor as part of the consolidation of the hospitality industry. Just as Continental's OnePass did not go "belly up" when it was acquired by United.

      Hyatt Gold Passport did not transform into in "boutique" program. It only changed its name (to the worse in my opinion.) A hospitality company whose loyalty program includes 20 brands and over 1,000 properties in 68 countries in all...

      SPG did not go "belly up"; it was acquired by a competitor as part of the consolidation of the hospitality industry. Just as Continental's OnePass did not go "belly up" when it was acquired by United.

      Hyatt Gold Passport did not transform into in "boutique" program. It only changed its name (to the worse in my opinion.) A hospitality company whose loyalty program includes 20 brands and over 1,000 properties in 68 countries in all continents is not a "niche" program.

      Marriott did not "gutt" Marriott Rewards by "trying to be like SPG." In merging both programs, Marriott transformed a great program (SPG) and a good program (Marriott Rewards) into a mediocre program (BonVoy).

      Hilton Honors is here to stay and will not go under but by constantly devaluing its program it will become less and less relevant.

    2. DCS

      @Regis --

      -- Belly-up or not SPG is no more. Period.

      -- Gold Passport changed name and made it tough to qualify for the program's top elite status -- Globalist -- that is the only that is that is worth anything, which, thus, made it an expensive "boutique" and niche program and anathema to the idea that joining a loyalty program would allow one to travel luxuriously on the cheap. There is nothing...

      @Regis --

      -- Belly-up or not SPG is no more. Period.

      -- Gold Passport changed name and made it tough to qualify for the program's top elite status -- Globalist -- that is the only that is that is worth anything, which, thus, made it an expensive "boutique" and niche program and anathema to the idea that joining a loyalty program would allow one to travel luxuriously on the cheap. There is nothing cheap about patronizing World of Hyatt.

      -- Marriott acquired SPG and tried to create a 'hybrid' program to try to appease SPG loyalists -- a quixotic goal that ended up gutting ("BonVoying") Marriott Reward, which was a descent program up to that point.

      -- Hilton Honors has time and again defied claims that changes it was implementing would devalue or gut the program. I am confident that it will do so again to remain the dominant program in the business.

      G'day!

    3. Mike

      Shifting the goalposts doesn't help your cause any, DCS, though everyone knows it's your modus operandi.

  14. Edward BIENIEWICZ

    Time to go to Marriott

  15. Uwe

    Another reason to leave Hilton as a longtime Diamond member and book more nights at Marriott and Hyatt in the future.

  16. JM

    Hilton is doing a great job of making Hyatt look even better.

  17. TG

    I have been a Hilton Diamond member off and on for over 20 years. Due to a loss of of employment during the pandemic I stopped traveling. Recently, with a new role I have again begun extensive travel. Hilton has been my brand of choice, but as the article points out they have started to change the way they reward their loyal customers. Besides the change in the daily breakfast to a daily credit of...

    I have been a Hilton Diamond member off and on for over 20 years. Due to a loss of of employment during the pandemic I stopped traveling. Recently, with a new role I have again begun extensive travel. Hilton has been my brand of choice, but as the article points out they have started to change the way they reward their loyal customers. Besides the change in the daily breakfast to a daily credit of $10-$20 per day. I have also experience denial of free space available room upgrades for Diamond members. When I called the Diamond desk to discuss this, I was told that certain brands didn't renew their contract with Hilton, so they no longer participate in that program. As a loyal Hilton customer, how would I have known that. And it's funny that most of the Hilton brands operate or in their name say "By Hilton",so why the deception. It looks like they are taking a page out of the airline operating philosophy of charging for every service they can. So my question would be what benefit does exclusively staying at one brand get me except a title wo and extra benefit compared to a traveler that stays at a Hilton property once a year?

  18. Harry A Broker

    Time to leave the light on at Motel 69!

  19. Frances Badger

    Hilton is doing what so many other corporations do, make decisions good for the short term that will come back to bite them in the long term. I really use to like Hilton Honors, but it just isn't what it used to be.

    1. Christian

      Why any brand would agree to $450 for their top status is beyond me and must tick off those that earn it by staying. It devalues top "loyalty" status for the brand and leads to more complaints about not receiving marketed benefits due to 50%+ of the property being Diamonds.

  20. Aaron

    This is all the more reason to create an elite tier above Diamond. Something with confirmed suite upgrades and access to the "special" lounges.

  21. Franz Christian

    What did everyone expect when Hilton started giving top-level status away with credit cards that bloggers peddle like crack to crack addicts?

  22. DrewT

    I hate that Hilton's going down this path. With Marriott it's super annoying that I get less benefits at the more expensive hotels. I really hated when the Prince Gallery Tokyo (Marriott Luxury Collection) stopped allowing lounge access for elite members.

    I guess with Marriott I get Suite Night Awards to keep my hopes up on getting a decent upgrade occasionally? I've had decent success with them in Asia, less so in the US. I...

    I hate that Hilton's going down this path. With Marriott it's super annoying that I get less benefits at the more expensive hotels. I really hated when the Prince Gallery Tokyo (Marriott Luxury Collection) stopped allowing lounge access for elite members.

    I guess with Marriott I get Suite Night Awards to keep my hopes up on getting a decent upgrade occasionally? I've had decent success with them in Asia, less so in the US. I guess the pandemic has put a hold on any plans Hilton had of rolling out some kind of upgrade instrument for elites?

    I wish my primary travel destination had a Hyatt!

  23. Edith

    See what credit tipping culture has gotten you. Nowhere. Hilton dropped America.

  24. FNT Delta Diamond

    Reminds me of Marriott’s Gaylord brand. Big convention and trade show hotels. Zero elite status benefits. Almost never even a good restaurant on-property with something beyond rubber-chicken banquet food. But unless they’re going to serve real champagne and offer quality food, charging for club lounge access is absurd. I laughed when the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota tried claiming $6 J.P. Chenet sparkling wine was acceptable for a club lounge. As bad as that crap was, the Ritz-Carlton...

    Reminds me of Marriott’s Gaylord brand. Big convention and trade show hotels. Zero elite status benefits. Almost never even a good restaurant on-property with something beyond rubber-chicken banquet food. But unless they’re going to serve real champagne and offer quality food, charging for club lounge access is absurd. I laughed when the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota tried claiming $6 J.P. Chenet sparkling wine was acceptable for a club lounge. As bad as that crap was, the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City tried passing off Martini & Rossi sparkling wine. Fortunately after complaining they pulled out the Ritz Paris (not Ritz-Carlton) co-branded Barons de Rothschild champagne. Amazing how they had that hidden away but wouldn’t serve it unless requested. And yet they had the balls to charge guests $150 per day for club lounge access. I haven’t found a North America club lounge at any brand worth the access, outside of taking Diet Cokes back to the room.

  25. Anthony

    Maintain Hilton status via a credit card, stay at a Hilton when the particular property make sense, collect your points and move on. Stay as many times or as few times a year as needed. No use crying over spilled milk.

  26. Jerry

    Why does Hilton just give away Diamond? I think the problem could be rectified if there was a higher level of status that you actually had to earn. I'd probably direct more nights to Hilton if that were the case, but since Diamond is given, I'm more inclined to "chase" Bonvoy status each year.

  27. UA-NYC

    The writing has been on the wall for a long time w/this company - give away your top tier status for (net) free with a CC, and eventually you have to cut benefits to compensate for that.

    Hyatt & Marriott would be smart to not follow along and make the same mistake.

  28. Reno Joe

    Loyalty is not a two-way street. Accept it. It's not just about what's happening to this benefit -- it's about what's happening to all elite status benefits. All loyalty programs have opened the flood gates to elite status and can't support the numbers. In short, it's about money.

    My wife and I spend six figures on hotels every year (even during COVID). I am a multi-year Marriott Ambassador Elite and a Hyatt Globalist. I find...

    Loyalty is not a two-way street. Accept it. It's not just about what's happening to this benefit -- it's about what's happening to all elite status benefits. All loyalty programs have opened the flood gates to elite status and can't support the numbers. In short, it's about money.

    My wife and I spend six figures on hotels every year (even during COVID). I am a multi-year Marriott Ambassador Elite and a Hyatt Globalist. I find elite status of little value (other than late check-out). We all have our stories -- benefits are typical devalued, unavailable, or elusive -- especially the room upgrade. After a number of my own stories, I have concluded that it is all simply about earning and redeeming points. That's it.

    Expect nothing. Promises not kept.

  29. Luther B

    Like Marriott, cheapen the brand, why stay there when a budget hotel will suffice your needs
    Bad thinking

  30. Ravi

    Keep in mind you're not Hilton's customer. The hotel owners are their paying customer. You're a customer of the hotel owner. The reason for loyalty programs is so Hilton/Hotel Brand X can help market and fill up beds at branded hotels. But with business travel so limited, many hotel owners aren't filling space and thus losing money vs corporate. And while you may hate Marriott, they have by far the highest fill rates with the...

    Keep in mind you're not Hilton's customer. The hotel owners are their paying customer. You're a customer of the hotel owner. The reason for loyalty programs is so Hilton/Hotel Brand X can help market and fill up beds at branded hotels. But with business travel so limited, many hotel owners aren't filling space and thus losing money vs corporate. And while you may hate Marriott, they have by far the highest fill rates with the least amount of additional advertising cost to an owner.

    I'd suspect more of these types of changes and more copycat behavior between the other brands, in an effort to keep their customers, the owners, happy vs end traveling customers and then probably a reversal once we see business travel truly return.

    1. Franz Christian

      Actually, no. The owners/franchisees are the real customer. Guests are the product that Hilton, IHG and Marriott sells the customer. Only Hyatt is different because Hyatt manages/operates the majority of its hotels. Marriott only manages a plurality of its hotels; mostly high-end brands internationally as well as most Ritz-Carlton and Edition properties. Hilton and IHG manage very few properties.

  31. JP

    For years, Hilton was my go to and I rarely looked at other brands.

    Now, Hyatt is my go to and Hilton has been my secondary. With all these negative changes, the wife and I are giving Marriott a chance as our secondary with Hilton as only a last resort.

    The PR spin of these moves makes them even worse. "Flexibility" is the reason for the breakfast change? Come on... We're not that stupid.

  32. Scott Ellis

    This seems like more evidence of the slippery slope Hilton is on. There are more and more inconsistencies between properties of the same brand in the group. Recently, the duty manager at a Hilton told me they'd chosen to simply reduce room prices rather than offer ANY of the usual Diamond member benefits. They'd also removed glassware, the fridge, and shower gel from rooms.
    On a recent stay at a Hampton by Hilton, they...

    This seems like more evidence of the slippery slope Hilton is on. There are more and more inconsistencies between properties of the same brand in the group. Recently, the duty manager at a Hilton told me they'd chosen to simply reduce room prices rather than offer ANY of the usual Diamond member benefits. They'd also removed glassware, the fridge, and shower gel from rooms.
    On a recent stay at a Hampton by Hilton, they told me Hilton corporate had instructed them to stop offering room upgrades to Diamond members and instead they wanted a £20 supplement to upgrade.
    Your article suggests more of this in the coming months.

  33. uldguy

    I'm finding fewer and fewer reasons to stay with Hilton these days. This is but another.

    They seem to be aligning their thinking more and more with that of Marriott. Keep it up and they will end up with hotels off of guests who "have to stay there" rather than guests who "want to stay there." I would think that a guest who wants to stay at a property will likely spend more while at the property than one who simply can't wait to leave.

    1. CF_Frost

      I agree that I'm finding fewer reasons to stay at Hilton. The Diamond program was always a tie-breaker when making a booking decison. I no longer feel bound to choose Hilton based on status.

  34. Jorgen

    In the official pages I can't see Gold getting access to Ex. lounges at all, only Diamond? Or am I wrong?

    1. Uwe

      As a Gold member you get access to Exe-Lounges only if upgraded to an executive room or higher room with automatic lounge benefits.

Featured Comments Load all 43 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Franz Christian

What did everyone expect when Hilton started giving top-level status away with credit cards that bloggers peddle like crack to crack addicts?

uldguy

I'm finding fewer and fewer reasons to stay with Hilton these days. This is but another. They seem to be aligning their thinking more and more with that of Marriott. Keep it up and they will end up with hotels off of guests who "have to stay there" rather than guests who "want to stay there." I would think that a guest who wants to stay at a property will likely spend more while at the property than one who simply can't wait to leave.

Diane

Is there a list of Hilton properties with executive lounges ... in the US and abroad? The Park Ave London Hilton had a wonderful lounge.

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