In the promo, Priority Club — which naturaly has had its own devaluations — calls out Hilton for the magnitude of theirs. And as I’ve noted before, it’s an especially deep devaluation at a time when hotel occupancy and room rates are suffering in unprecedented ways making the chnages uniquely egregious and difficult to justify.
Kralev quotes Steve Sickel, who’s in charge of the Priority Club program:
“In my 17 years in the loyalty business — first at Continental Airlines and now at InterContinental — I’ve never seen such a drastic devaluation,”
Hilton downplays the changes:
Hilton also sent me some numbers that surprised me. Of nearly 3,500 hotels around the world, only 354 were assigned a higher category in January, and 547 actually decreased while the rest remained the same.
This is more than disingenuous. As Loyalty Traveler notes after crunching the numbers,
Approximately 82% of Hilton Worldwide hotels, around 2,900 hotels, require more HHonors points for a free night after the January 15, 2010 changes.
All programs devalue. I laid out the reasons why back in 2004. Miles and points are proprietary currencies with no central bank or currency board. With fixed quantities of product to redeem for, and increasing outstanding points, there have to be either shortages or price increases. Programs, especially during economic tough times, inflate — the print more points to incentivize incremental travel and revenue and then when times get better they raise points requirements. There’s a certain Lucy, Linus, and the football element to it.
The uniquely irksome thing about the Hilton changes, though, is that they’re being made during the challenging times for hotels, so members have a difficult time understanding it, and Steve Sickel has a real opening to shout them down. But indeed, as Hilton observes in the Kralev piece, pot/kettle/black.