I will be the first to admit I am not the expert on Hilton HHonors points. Nothing against the program or the hotels (well, until now at least), it just hasn’t been the program I have used most frequently. So, until several HHonors users emailed me in the last couple days, I had no idea that there was a massive point devaluation underway with Hilton. This Flyertalk thread gives a great account of the problem. We aren’t talking about a 10 or 20% devaluation, we are talking well over a 75% point devaluation in some cases for many top Hilton properties! An example posted by deant on this very alarming Flyertalk, shows that it was possible to previously get a four night award in Bora Bora for 145,000 points – now the lowest you can get would cost more than 600,000 points!
What is most alarming about this is that it doesn’t seem to be a fluke, a “high season” issue, or an IT problem. This post by Flyertalk member jasonvr (who is one of the persons who alerted me to this problem), shows that Hilton is well aware of this intentional change.
Hello Mr. jasonvr,
Thank you for your message to Hilton Reservations and Customer Care. It is my pleasure to assist you today regarding your concerns with Premium Rewards.
We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused. With the new Reward offerings provided by HHonors, some of our hotels only offer Premium Rewards. Because rooms at some of our Resorts offer additional features or are not standard hotel rooms (i.e. bungalows) all room types for these hotels are now considered Premium Rooms and the point values will now reflect this new change.
Forgive my “Mommy ignorance” here, but my definition of “Premium Room” would be one that implies that you are getting a room better than other rooms offered at that property. So, if all rooms are “Premium Rooms”, then I am a little confused about what makes them so “Premium”. It was almost humorous that the email I received from jasonvr alerting me to this problem was in my inbox right next to an email from Hilton announcing their “Big News!” that you can now use your points to book premium rooms, anytime, anywhere.
Well, sure you can if you have a gazillion points to burn! If you are just a regular person, like me, who works hard for every point that you get, then saving 600,000 points for a four day stay in Bora Bora is just completely unrealistic. I don’t care if I can always be sure that a “Premium Room” is available, because I will never have enough points to reserve that room. I would much rather have affordable rewards only available at certain times, than outrageously priced rooms available all the time. At least then I would have a shot at using my points eventually.
Loyalty Traveler offers a very detailed explanation of this problem and provides some specific examples of this change if you want some additional specifics. Even though I am not a regular Hilton HHonors user myself, I am still offended by these changes. I love points and I love loyalty programs. Heck, I started a blog just because I think points are that fantastic. I also understand fully that the loyalty programs exist so that the hotels, airlines, etc…. can build loyalty and make a larger profit. However, that doesn’t mean that it is acceptable to make such a radical change like this overnight. People were probably saving their points for honeymoons, once in a lifetime trips, etc… and now they are left with nowhere near enough points to make that trip. At least British Airways has forewarned us that a “big change” is coming soon with their program. Hyatt also recently gave fair warning about properties that were changing award categories. Heck, just like with the weather, you can’t stop a tornado from coming, but at least sound the alarms so that people can prepare.
Seriously, Hilton, make whatever change you feel you need to from a business perspective. I get it. I also know point valuation may some trivial to some, but for others who have been saving their points from a long period of time, it can be a very big blow. At least work in some grace period here. I don’t know if that will be enough to keep some top members from jumping ship, but it would go a long way to show some goodwill toward those who were very much looking forward to several days away at some of your top properties. Just a thought.
If you want to reach out to Hilton to let them know what you think of this change, you can do so by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweeting them at @HiltonOnline. They only know you are upset with the changes if you (politely) tell them.
Are you a HHonors member? How does this effect your trip plans and/or future loyalty program plans?