Earlier in the year Hilton Honors announced that it was going to be making a number of changes to the rewards programme, which came into effect on Monday. These changes simplify the rewards scheme but also signal a change in focus to rewarding only the loyalist of guests.
Changes to the Hilton Honors reward scheme
The key changes are as follows:
- Reduced points earning for Blue and Silver members.
- Increased points earning for Gold and Diamond members who stay at least 40 nights per year (the changes are neutral if you stay under 40 nights).
- Removal of the option to earn airline miles alongside points from your stays.
What do these changes mean?
Until Sunday, you had two options when staying at Hilton Honors properties:
- ‘Points and Points’ which gave 10 base points per $1 plus a bonus of 15% for Silver, 25% for Gold and 50% for Diamond, plus a fixed additional bonus of 5 points per $1
- Or, ‘Points and Miles’ which gave 10 base points per $1 plus a bonus of 15% for Silver, 25% for Gold and 50% for Diamond, plus a fixed additional bonus of (in most cases) 1 airline mile per $1.
Now however, these systems have been scrapped and replaced with a more simplified points system:
- 10 base points per $1 plus a bonus of 20% for Silver, 80% for Gold and 100% for Diamond.
How does this compare to the old ‘Points and Points’?
- Base member: used to earn 15 points per $1, now earns 10 points per $1 (down 33%)
- Silver member: used to earn 16.5 points per $1, now earns 12 points per $1 (down 27%)
- Gold member: used to earn 17.5 points per $1, now earns 18 points per $1 (up 3%)
Diamond member: used to earn 20 points per $1, now earns 20 points per $1 (no change)
Gold and Diamond members will now also receive:
- 10,000 bonus points for hitting 40 nights, and for every 10 nights thereafter plus 30,000 bonus points for hitting 60 nights.
Additionally status members now receive two new benefits:
- The ability to roll elite nights over to the following year - If you do enough nights to retain your current tier but not reach the next one, your excess nights carry over. A Silver member doing 30 nights (Silver requires 10 nights, Gold 40) would retain Silver but start the following year with 20 elite nights for example. The carry-forward is only for one year. This does not apply to elite stays.
- You can gift status to a friend. A member doing 60 nights in a year can gift Gold status to a friend. A member doing 100 nights in a year can gift Diamond status.
What do these changes mean?
Hilton has decided that it was too generous to people who only gave modest business each year (less than the 20 stays or 40 nights required for Gold).
These people will lose out under the new scheme and, unless a room is cheaper by booking direct with Hilton, these people would likely benefit more from hotels.com Rewards which effectively gives you 10% of your spend back in free nights (more details here).
At the same time, Hilton clearly feels that it was not doing enough to keep members loyal once they had reached Gold or Diamond status. These people now have three reasons to keep using Hilton: extra bonuses for doing 40+ nights, elite rollover nights and the ability to give status to a friend. It is also worth noting that Gold and Diamond members also receive free breakfast at Waldorf Astoria hotels.
The removal of ‘Points and miles’ takes away a differentiating feature of the Hilton Honors scheme. Interestingly unlike other hotel reward programs, they have not introduced an option of just collecting miles from a stay. Although they will still let you convert large numbers of points into airline miles. The rate for such transfers is extremely poor (typically 10,000 Hilton Honors points per 1,000 miles).
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