Hilton Announces Free Internet for Gold and Diamond Members

I received an email this afternoon that Hilton is finally adding free internet as a benefit for their Gold and Diamond members — and not making them choose free internet or club lounge access and an upgrade (which isn’t to a suite anyway).

Hilton Worldwide is pleased to announce that beginning September 1, 2010, all Gold and Diamond HHonors members will receive complimentary high-speed internet access during their stay at all 3,600 hotels within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio of brands.

Over a year ago, Hyatt pulled the trigger, offering all elite members free internet.

Then Intercontinental came out with free internet for their Ambassador and Royal Ambassador members, but details have fluctuated a bit. It’s been at some hotels, not all. Then a special promotion. And only on the ‘free internet rate’. Though some hotels now offer it across the board. An early adopter, but not all the way there.

Starwood lept in with free internet for Platinums, effective earlier this year.

Within a week, Marriott announced their own benefit for Golds and Platinums, in the US and Canada and later expanded to the Caribbean and Central and South America. But not Europe or Asia.

At the time, the head of HHonors explained that he didn’t think his elites wanted free internet.


Diskin responds that Hilton already offered this as a choice to elites, and they don’t choose it. Well, of course they don’t. Hilton says you can have upgrades and breakfast, points, or internet. Internet isn’t the most important benefit and members aren’t willing to give up their upgrades (!) for it.

I called them out extensively on it, and they must have believed it was hurting them in the marketplace because they’ve finally climbed on board.

It’s interesting that they’re offering the benefit at the Gold level in addition to Diamond. Hyatt offers it to their Platinums as well. And both of those levels are more easily attainable than Marriott’s Gold for sure. Starwood still doesn’t offer it to their Golds.

Oddly there remains little real difference between Hilton’s Gold and Diamond levels, even after Hilton reduced the Gold level breakfast benefit last year to continental. Hilton still much needs to add benefits to the Diamond tier, not as they’ve previosuly discussed just adding on a higher and more difficult to reach tier which is actually benefit-laden. They need their upgrades to include suites, at least, which would involve a real culture shift within Hilton. I’m not talking about Hyatt’s generous confirmed suite upgrade benefit, which would be nice. Just the possibility, at least, of an upgrade to the best available room at a hotel.

But then a guaranteed late checkout benefit for Diamonds even would be nice…

.. but for today I suppose I’ll take free internet!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. It just seems so odd to me that the cheap-o motels offer internet free to all guests, but the nice motels don’t.

    There must be other businesses where those who pay more get less, but none come to mind right now.

  2. The difference between the cheap-o chains offering it for free is most likely the level of security. I worked in the past for a company that supplied secure internet traffic to most Marriott hotels, and there was a reason it was $9.95/night then. Each room/connection was treated individually where the cheap-o places are just open networks. The open networks means that every connected computer is visible to each other, a TERRIBLE security hole. If you work for a company with a strict mobile computing policy there is a good chance that they restrict you to choosing to stay at certain hotels; if you’re going to be working on company business while on the road then it pays the company to make sure that where you stay is secure.

    So the fact that the bigger chains are offering it for free, at least just for their elites, is a pretty good hit to their bottom line.

  3. All that being said, it would seem that they could easily add unsecure wireless routers for those people who don’t care about security and just want free internet, while still offering a paid secure version. If I’m on business and my company has a restriction for security then they’d gladly pay a nightly fee. But a hybrid solution would seem very appropriate and very easy to implement and support.

  4. All that being said, it would seem that they could easily add unsecure wireless routers for those people who don’t care about security and just want free internet, while still offering a paid secure version. If I’m on business and my company has a restriction for security then they’d gladly pay a nightly fee. But a hybrid solution would seem very appropriate and very easy to implement and support.

  5. I’m typing this up as I stay at the Hilton in Tampa. The internet service sucks. It’s pretty much the same as dial-up. I’m paying for this crap? Obviously I won’t be coming back enough to be a gold level member. I wonder if there is a McDonald’s around, at least their internet is better than Hilton’s.

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