Changes to Hilton H rewards

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  • SimonRowberry

    There is another insidious way in which Hilton HHonors is being devalued for its tier members (I speak as a Diamond Member – once again, having been demoted last year to a Silver due to changes in the qualifying year calculations).

    Hilton have introduced the concept of ‘e-upgrade.’ What this basically means is that everyone, HH Members or not, has the opportunity to elect for a space-available upgrade on check-in. One elects, at the time of booking confirmation or anytime up to the time of check-in, to PAY for an upgrade if available. These are then allocated on a first-come basis.

    HH Gold and Diamond Members can elect for the same range of upgrades, but some are free, reflecting the tier benefit.

    HOWEVER, my experience has been that since the introduction of ‘e-upgrades’, the availability of free upgrades for Diamond and Gold Members has seriously reduced. The cynic in me asks “Why give a free upgrade to a tier Member when you can get a non-tier member, or indeed, a non-HH member to pay?” I should point out that when you select an ‘e-upgrade’ on the website, you commit yourself to paying for that upgrade if it is available at check-in.

    As a Diamond Member, I am entitled to use the Exec Lounge, whether or not I am actually upgraded to a Exec Room itself. However. Gold Members can only use the Exec Lounge if they get an Exec Room (this is a relatively new rule). I am therefore of the view that, whilst Diamond Membership still has some clear Exec Floor benefits, the benefits for Gold Members have been very seriously eroded, as upgrades are now so scarce.

    I am now increasingly using Starwood. Although I am only a Gold SPG Member, I am almost always upgraded at their properties.





    I was recently at the Conrad in San Juan, PR for four nights. This is an ex-Wyndham property and joined the “family” about eight months back.

    The hotel did not offer an Executive Lounge. Hence, breakfast was issued as “Continental Breakfast”. And continental it was; it was a coupon worth a whopping $7 per person per day which could buy you a coffee and muffin at the hotel restaurant or at the Starbucks which was hosted by the hotel.

    I raised this with the front desk, and their response was; “this is what HH has asked us to provide”.

    The rooms very brilliant, but no breakfast buffet was on offer.
    I am heading to the Waldorf over Easter and they have now confirmed that all I get now is a coupon for coffee and muffin at the Starbucks. The coupon has no cash value and therefore, can’t be used in the restaurant. The lounge is only available if you stay in the Tower… Last time, I got full continental breakfast at Oscar’s.

    I have yet to run into the issues with upgrades. I think it is clever way to increase REVPAR, but not at expense of loyal customers. I will give them this year, and then I will see.

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