Hilton HHonors Hope Diamond Members Enjoyed the Ride.

Once again I get to write about how Hilton has taken diamond members and bent them over the check in desk for a good screwing. It shocks me how year after year more and more benefits are taken from Hilton’s top tier of loyal guest. To make matters worse Hilton has also added things to the Gold level making that status on-par with Diamond. Oh and they are handing out Gold status like it is candy.

As a HH Diamond who has earned the status for the last 8 years, it has been one slap in the face after another. It all started when they took away the rolling year calendar, this would allow status nights and stays roll over and not go to zero at the end of the calendar year. So now once you hit your target for the year lets say the required 28 stays a year in June all the stays after count for nothing and will be zapped away on Jan 1. The old system would let these totals roll as you made status. Over the past few years points were devalued when they made the new cat 7 hotels at a whopping 50K points a night for a reward, and the introduction of the Waldorf Astoria collection tier. Making the points in your account worth less. A little over a year ago the biggest scam of them all started the Premium Room rewards, charging crazy amounts for rooms outside the standard category, at this time many hotels cut the number of standard rooms to bypass the “no black out date” perk of the HH program, Hilton pushes you can use your points for a free room with no black out dates as long as they is a standard room open the night you wanted. Less standard rooms, less rooms to use your points on. Many hotels have deluxe rooms that add a robe and slippers and want around 100,000 points per night. Scam! Hilton needs to set point rates for these rooms by category like SPG. For example at a Cat 6 Hotel 40,000 points for Standard room, 45,000 for deluxe, 50,000 for executive, 60,000 for Jr Suite..etc.. Not let hotels just make up amounts, I have seen rooms come up at 900,000 points per night. The good news as a diamond you could request a diamond force for a reward stay. HHonors would work with a hotel to book a room with points when standard rooms were not open. This was a nice perk, really the best perk as a Diamond. Now that is gone too!

I understand cut backs, but if Hilton thinks these “cut backs” to Diamonds are going to help them in the long run I think they are greatly mistaken. The fact that the only real difference between Gold and Diamond status is now that Golds get a 25% Bonus on base points for a stay and Diamonds get 50%. Points are nice but perks are king. Hilton will tell you Diamonds can get suites as an upgrade and golds should not. Ok I have gotten suite upgrades at some Hilton hotels around the world before and after this new perk was rolled out early this year. Other times when I asked for a suite at check in I was told by many hotels “You booked a standard room so you only get an executive room.” To be fair Diamonds are permitted to the Executive lounges even if not upgraded to a room that allows access, as Gold only get if they are upgraded to a room that allows access. But lets not get into the cut backs at many Lounges around the world and Hilton lowing the standards and hours of the complementary items.

The thing that really pisses me off with all this is the fact that Hilton has been giving fast tracks and some promotions just give Gold status to people like here and here just to name a few. Now with the new CITI visa Hilton card you get free (for $95 a year) Gold status. Hilton is just making this very giving mid-tier status away. This is the true slap in the face to the Diamonds who earn the status. The difference between gold and diamond is trivial and everyone is a Gold now.

Flyertalk.com and even Hilton HHonors facebook page is loaded with comments about these changes. The crack team at Hilton is posting a cut and paste response to these comments;

“We understand your disappointment. Careful thought and consideration went into this decision. We are committed to ensuring that the program remains strong for our most loyal customers. We recognize that you have a choice when you travel and we hope that the benefits and the experiences that you have had over the years of your membership will be the deciding factor for your future travels.”

This response is a total insult. Lets read between the lines. We hope you enjoyed Diamond status in the past, we know it sucks now, hope you put up with it.

Hilton needs to look at the other major programs, and how they are ADDING perks to the top tiers of loyalty. For example SPG.

Conrad is turning in his grave.

Loyalty is a two way street.


David July 26, 2012 at 07:50 pm

Even as a non-Diamond, I agree wholeheartedly. Happy with Gold status, almost no reason to fight for Diamond...

Damian July 26, 2012 at 07:53 pm

@ Dave, Did your earn Gold? or get it comp'ed? If you did earn it, real golds should be upset as well.

Brad July 26, 2012 at 08:31 pm

Damian. You are clearly more patient than me. I let HH know how I felt by no longer staying with them. I was a multi year Diamond, now a SPG plat and Hyatt Diamond.

Damian July 26, 2012 at 08:33 pm

@ Brad, I'm in a Hyatt (and a suite) right now, also a Diamond. My big problem is coverage in Europe, SPG is ok, Hyatt is poor. So my patience is more related to that.

Jamie July 26, 2012 at 08:37 pm

Great post! I agree completely. I have used the diamond force a couple times in the past on rewards stays and it was a great benefit which made it worth maintaining diamond status. Past two times I have tried for a diamond force stay I was willing to pay for (reimbursed business trips) I was told the hotel was expecting unusually high occupancy (DUH! They are sold out) and they weren't honoring the diamond guarantee even though both times the rooms were trying to be booked over 2 months in advance. And in February at the Fort Lauderdale Hilton Beach Resort I had a room from a diamond force and they tried walking me when I arrived stating the hotel was sold out!!!

@Dave I would be concerned as a gold. Seeing Hilton is selling gold status by just having a $95 a year credit card, imagine how much harder upgrades for golds will be with all the added golds, not to mention they will probably cut back on gold benefits

Matt July 26, 2012 at 09:12 pm

"We recognize that you have a choice when you travel and we hope that the benefits and the experiences that you have had over the years of your membership will be the deciding factor for your future travels.”

Benefits and treatment now are a whole lot more important than what happened in the past - this response is bizarre. As a head in bed Diamond and SPG plat last year Starwoods enhancements already have had me in their properties more nights this year than all of last year and had put me on the fence about requalifying already. Changes like this make it tough to justify staying with Hilton any incremental nights beyond what their better footprint justifies.

They were the best option out of the "extremely wide coverage" programs, but the continued chipping away of benefits unannounced through stealth T&C updates and "improvements" like premium room awards is killing the value.

Brad July 27, 2012 at 09:52 am

@Damian...good point. Hilton's coverage map is the one thing I can't dispute. Hyatt's coverage is pretty weak, especially in Europe. Also, when I was in NZ, my only option for point redemptions was Hilton.

Harijs July 27, 2012 at 03:51 pm

Damian, thanks for excellent post! As Honors Diamond I am very disappointed with continuous degrading of Diamond benefits you have described so well. We need to let Hilton know what we think. I have posted URL to your post on Facebook and some other places so that more people can read your summary of what lots of Diamond members feel.

REVJOENATHAN July 29, 2012 at 10:48 pm

I have been a HHonors Diamond member for about 7-8 years. When I was upgraded to Diamond status the hotels would bend over backwards to make sure I was comfortable and had everything I needed. I was upgraded to a suite over 90% of the time. I was earning so many points my leisure travels were always on Hilton. When you consider the amount of time I spent in their properties, it seems appropriate that they reward those who bring them large amounts of revenue.

Hilton has a completely different attitude towards guest service in the past few years. Now, I am lucky if I am given the room I booked. When I call the "Diamond Desk" they are unable to do much but offer a canned apology.

Hilton's new owners have made a horrible mistake. They should be adding benefits to the Diamond tier for those who are still traveling when travel money is scarce in most companies.

Aside from the HHonors program being torn apart by Hilton, their properties have become very inconsistent. A Hilton hotel in their portfolio now may not have been updated in 20 years or more. I stayed at Hilton recently that had not been remodeled since 1993. Hilton was unapologetic about the condition of the hotel and informed me the property was a "great value". I was one of Hilton's biggest fans for many years. Not anymore.....

AL October 2, 2012 at 09:04 pm

Great Post and right on the money, when dealing with Hilton. I have been a Diamond member for the past 9 months and found NO difference in the service vises the Gold level. On my last trip to Savannah, I stayed at the HGI near the airport. I reserved a room, which they were unable to find, so I was placed in a H/C first floor room near the ice machine/ elevator. (My fault for not keeping a copy of the reservation) About 2 hours after getting into my room, I received a call from the front desk stating they had found my reservation in the system, for the upper floor King and would cancel it for me. They then wished me a good night. Way to go Hilton, which way is the Marriott????

James December 31, 2012 at 03:41 pm

What is getting frustrating is the 30000 a night Hampton inns that are 80 bucks a night. Better to just pay for the room.

Zachary Marshall January 6, 2013 at 08:59 pm

HH Diamond members get a 48 reservation guarantee (subject to high volume days: i.e. special events) If you are a Diamond member and you are walked to another hotel, because they have no more rooms, they must give you $100 cash, pay for your ride to the other hotel, pay for the other hotel, and give you a bunch of points (forget the amount). As a former Hilton employee, I can tell you that most of the time that someone didn't get a upgrade it was their attitude. Many Gold and Diamond member assume they are entitled to an upgrade; upgrades are only available if they are available, and first come first serve bases. Talking down to the front desk clerk really won't get you anywhere. Kindness and a smile go a long way. Also, when making reservations, make them online. There is a comment box; ask for a Hhonors upgrade, a good hotel will see your comments and take care of you. You may want to call ahead, in the morning, to ask for an upgrade. Late in the day and at night most options are limited.

Hampton Night Audit January 8, 2014 at 07:09 am

The Diamond member attitude is a Plague!!! I work as a Night Auditor at a Hampton Inn In the Seattle area, From late May to early September our Hotel is Sold out at least a Month in advance. Approximately 40% of these Rooms are booked by Diamond Members many of them taking advantage of every possible discount (AAA, AARP, Pre-pay, & Various others) One of the most frustrating parts of my job is assigning rooms. Many of the Diamond members will book Single Queen-Bed Smoking rooms at AAA rate of $115. Our standard rates that time of year is $157. (We only have standard rooms) And having booked themselves into the smallest most uncomfortable room possible their "Diamond" Profile will ask for King-Bed, Non-Smoking, Top-Floor, Away from Elevator, Quiet room. How can I be expected to accommodate such demands on a sold out night? And the worst part is all a "Diamond member" who has done this to themselves has to to is Whine loud enough and their room is free.

No More A Hilton Fan February 22, 2014 at 11:57 pm

@Zachary and @Hampton Night Audit - I am a Diamond and agree with you that too many people have an entitled mentality these days.

For all other HHonors Diamonds, do as I have done. I have been Diamond for over a decade, and I have simply ditched Hilton now. I now only stay at Hilton properties when redeeming my now close to valueless HHonors points. Meanwhile I have racked up 180 nights a year at Marriott and am working towards their Platinum for Life.

Loyalty is indeed a two way street. If Hilton wants to screw me over, they can go screw themselves too!

Barbara January 14, 2015 at 03:06 am

I am a Hilton Diamond, Marriott Platinum for Life and a Platinum at Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG).

I recently traveled France, Monaco, Italy and Spain and found that the hotel that has the best locations in not-so-large-cities, such as Dijon, France AND the best point values, was the IHG hotels. Most of my 10-day trip, we stayed at Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Crowne Plaza because those are the only hotels I could find to use my points. And every single property gave me an upgrade without my asking. Points per night were from 10k to 40k. And IHG offers the best programs for earning points faster.

At the Paris Holiday Inn we had a high-floor executive room with a view of the Eiffel Tower, Sacre-Coeur and part of the Louvre, with two sets of French glass doors leading to its own private balcony, as well as a spiral staircase from the balcony up to a smaller, very private balcony with a table and 2 chairs and lots of greens. Such a charming room! A private rooftop balcony with table & chairs also in Marseilles.

But the most appalling story of IHG vs Hilton was in Lyon. I wanted to use my points equally on this trip, so I tried to look for a Hilton in Lyon. The only one I can find, for a standard King room, wanted 206k+ points. The odd number of points comes from a discount applied from my corporate rate, so for non-corporate rate travelers, that would have been more points. So I "settled" for a Crowne Plaza, who gave me a beautiful suite with lots of 'extras' in the room, for 40k one night and 30k the next night, total of 70k for 2 nights. When I left that hotel, which was in a large ampi-theater complex, I realized that the Hilton was in the same complex, only 2 buildings down - and almost 4 times the points! Go figure...

Marriott didn't have rooms after Paris (and their Paris locations were not as great as IHG though their points were fair, especially compared to the Hiltons) until Cap-d'Ail, just one street over from the Monaco border, so we stayed at the Marriott there. For only 40k points (for a standard King), this Category 8 hotel gave me an upgrade to a room that was more than $600 per night (about $1,000 if in peak summer season), a free drink at the bar or restaurant and full complimentary breakfast for two. I am forever grateful to Marriott for this, as the room was a dream room with a view to die for (unforgettable sunrise too). That was THE best room of that trip, and the best value for my hard-earned points.

Both Marriott and IHG gives rollover points. I cannot find anything of this sort for HHonors. Does anyone know if they offer rollover points? Googling for this info, I came across this site - and not surprised to see that there aren't very many Hilton fans out there, at least when it comes to loyalty rewards.

My last stay was at the Hilton Barcelona for 60k points. They say they gave us an upgraded room but it made me wonder what a standard room was like. We did have a nice room, but it was small and not too different from any standard Hilton rooms in the U.S. in terms of location or amenities. No coffee maker; just instant coffee (though the Europeans really know their coffee; even instant was good). Nevertheless, we did have a nice stay there but at 60k points, that was expected.

Hilton points really are worth so very little, I find it harder and harder to make it my choice when I need room for the night, which is quite often.

Stephen March 5, 2015 at 09:38 pm

I am lifetime Platinum with Marriott and SPG and currently Diamond with Hilton. Did not ask for lifetime and did not track it. Thank you Marriott and SPG. I have traveled every week for twenty years and never cared what hotel brand to stay at except staff, location and cost. In that order. I have stayed at Holiday Inns over a Hilton, Marriott or Sheraton because of the staff. Points mean nothing. ITS FREE! SPG by far has the best value for points versus how you earn them and Hilton is the worst. I do not complain, it is what it is. I still stay at Hiltons based on staff and location and if I can afford it. Same with any other chain. I go on vacation and use the hotel in that area with the best value for points. It doesn't suck. Obviously if you have an option of 900,000 points at a Hilton and 9000 at SPG you stay at the Sheraton. For those that work the desk, God bless you. I have seen the demands of others and I personally don't care if it is H/C or low floor with no view. Please give me a clean and quiet without a connecting door. I am here to sleep. Tonight I have a free upgrade to the Presidential suite and loathe having to survey the place tomorrow looking to make sure I haven't left anything behind. Did not ask for it, but it doesn't suck.

Peter Spiller May 1, 2015 at 11:02 am

Hilton Diamond for many years based on number of stays. And was an even higher frequency Hilton user long before HHonors program existed. Over 100 nights in Hilton Caracas alone, without rewards.

Two years ago shifted more spending to Hilton Honors Surpass AMEX card because it promised a year of Diamond status if spending $40,000. In 2013 qualified for Diamond both with number of stays and $40,000 spend on their AMEX. Hilton added two years to my Diamond expiration. During 2014 also had Diamond qualifying stays and $40,000 AMEX spend. BUT HHonors only aded 1 year to my Diamond status.

Called Diamond desk and got a "never heard about getting two years, we'll look into it." The rep was strictly speaking polite but her abrupt manner conveyed she thought I was trying to scam them. She admitted after looking at the record that in prior year I had been credited two years. Said they will study and get back to me. Still waiting!

Should have been a snap decision to correct their short changing me.