It was just yesterday that I was happy about the posting of my first HHonors bonus points from my Hilton HHonors credit card. Then just a few hours later I was sent an e-mail from HHonors informing me about upcoming changes to the program. As of March 28, 2013 three changes will go into effect:
- Reward Categories – We will be expanding to ten hotel reward categories to account for all of the new hotels and resorts that have opened in the past few years. With 3,900 hotels and resorts in 90 countries you are sure to find the perfect place for your next reward stay.
- Seasonal Hotel Reward Pricing – For most of our hotels and resorts, we will introduce seasonal pricing for reward stays. The amount of points needed for a Standard Room Reward and a Points & Money Reward will vary during certain times of the year.
- 5th Night Free – Now members with Silver, Gold or Diamond elite status will get a free night when they book a Standard Room Reward stay of five or more consecutive nights.
With the expansion to 10 categories many hotels will become significantly more expensive when it comes to redeeming points for free nights and seasonal reward pricing in itself also means that more points are needed. The current award chart looks like this:
|Hotel category||HHonors Points required for 1 free night|
|Waldorf Astoria™ Hotels & Resorts||50,000–80,000|
The new award chart looks like this
|STANDARD ROOM REWARDS|
|4||20,000 to 30,000 Points|
|5||30,000 to 40,000 Points|
|6||30,000 to 50,000 Points|
|7||30,000 to 60,000 Points|
|8||40,000 to 70,000 Points|
|9||50,000 to 80,000 Points|
|10||70,000 to 95,000 Points|
Luckily, Hilton publishes a list of new category assignments to its hotels. So one can check for specific properties how they are affected by these changes. One can book award stays for the current rates until March 28, 2013, even for stays beyond that date. When booking on or after March 28, 2013, the new award rates apply.
I haven’t checked for specific changes but other bloggers provide some examples showing that there are some heavy increases for several properties. LoyaltyTraveler of BoardingArea, for example, provides some preliminary analysis.
As he points out, the so-called new benefit is no really good enhancement. Instead, it looks more like a worse replacement for GLON awards that are available for elites. Currently, elite members receive discounts of 15% for award stays of 4 nights, 20% for awards stays of 5 nights, and 25% for award stays of 6 or more nights.
The 5th night free benefit is exactly the same as a discount of 20% for stays of 5 nights. But no discount for stays of 4 nights. Staying 6 nights? Sorry, that means less than 17% discount. Compare that to 25% discount with GLON awards. So that’s no enhancement at all, it’s just taking away some other benefits.
Right now I’m not quite in the situation that I can plan and book award stays just in time before this devaluation takes place. Well, in the future it will be much harder to find some value.