As a loyal Hilton Diamond for the past 6 years I think I have reached the point were I’m going to jump ship. Don’t get me wrong there are some real nice Hilton Family hotels out there, and they have hotels all over the world. The VIP treatment is very good in Europe and Asia, but when it comes to some unpublished changes to the Hilton Honors program I see the writing on the wall. Hilton is playing games, and could possibly be guilty of a form of bait and switch.
Hilton announced earlier this year that they would offer “Premium Rewards” allowing members to use more points to get a better room type for free or upgrade a room booked at a published rate. This sounds good, right?!?!? Well here is how they are screwing all of us but mostly their top tier members. Issue number one is how this new “perk” has lead to a devaluation of the Diamond force benefit for reward nights. In the past when a hotel was sold out of “Standard” rooms HH would force a free night stay for a Diamond member at the point rate for a standard room. A few weeks back I wanted to use my points for a reward stay and the hotel was sold out of standard rooms, I called the Diamond desk and they informed me they could not do a force because there was in fact a reward room available, as part of the new premium rewards program, they could not do a force but could put me in a Presidential suite for a whopping 435,191 points per night. It is important to note that the hotel did have deluxe and executive rooms available for sale but the hotel was not offering these rooms for the nights I was looking for as a Premium Reward. I would not have been happy to be forced to use a few more points to a room at the next level to get into the hotel, in essence paying for the upgrade I should get free as a Diamond but that would have been a better option then nothing. Checking other dates, a Deluxe Plus room was 61,999 points per night. An executive room for 73,923 points per night.. The agent informed me that the Hilton Malta has “very few standard rooms” and that is why we could not find a night within a 40 day window. If they had a standard room it would be 50,000 points a night, so for 11,999 more points you get a bathrobe in the room and a view aka a Deluxe Plus room. As a Diamond this should be a free upgrade. This is just nuts! Here is how some of these changes are effecting standard HH members, I have been looking at other Hilton family hotels and they are shrinking the number of what is called a standard room, by adding some soft products to the room. This not only devalues the diamond force but also the “no black out dates” for free nights that Hilton promotes. It is also interesting that Hilton has made it harder to find the HH category listing for a hotel on some of the individual hotels front web pages. In the past each hotel had the category and number of points required posted on their hotel page, now that is gone or requires some extra clicks to find. I think they are trying to hide this information, so uninformed guest will go to book a free night and some “Premium” room is all that comes up they would not know that this room is 10,000 more points then the standard room.
I Just looked at the Hilton Malta, and looks like the point price went up for an Executive room…This is the lowest "free" reward night most of the next 3 weeks.
Issue number two that has really pissed me off is how Hilton is handing out gold status to anyone with a VISA signature card ironically both the Marriott Visa, and Priority Club Visa are both VISA signature so card holders of Hilton major competitors are given HH gold status for 2 YEARS??!?!? after a very few stays. I’m all for a good promotion but come on Hilton, as a Diamond I was not eligible to take advantage of the offer to stay 3 nights then get status for 2 years. How is this right for Diamond members? I know this is a partner promotion and I’m sure visa is paying Hilton for this, but I’m sure someone at Hilton approved this, and in doing so they gave a slap in the face to Hiltons most loyal customers. To be fair as a Diamond I did get 5,000 points out of this promotion, but I think this is a bit unbalanced, when someone with zero status stays a few nights and gets Gold for 2 years.
I’m saddened and disappointed once again with Hilton, loyal for years and years saving my points up to use around the world.. Then I go to use them and massive disappointment.
I would like an explanation by Hilton on why these changes were done... how many hotels will end up following the Hilton Malta and making very few rooms “standard” in essence reducing the amount of room nights they have to give up for points? Is there a Hilton standard of a percentage of rooms in a hotel that must be standard or can a hotel add a robe, give you some bottles of water and then call a room premium?
I have emailed these questions to the Hilton Diamond desk 4 times over the summer and have not yet gotten a response. Today I emailed some VP’s of the HH program for comment, I will let you know if and when I hear back.