Hilton Apologizes for Change Without Notice, Gives Members a Window to Book AXON Awards

Last week I wrote that Hilton eliminated ‘AXON awards’ December 31 without notice. These are discounted awards for four night stays in category 5 through 10 hotels which could be booked over the phone by American Express co-brand cardholders.

I spoke with Hilton HHonors Vice President Aaron Glick this afternoon. He apologized to members, says they made a mistake and that “we want to give advance notice of changes in the program.”

So he feels the right thing to do is to give members an opportunity to book AXON awards. By Friday call center agents will be informed to allow AXON reservations to be made through February 15.


View from the Conrad Miami

Savings are good when reward nights are at the high end of the range for a hotel’s category. They’re not good when a hotel is at the cheapest end of the range. That’s because Hilton has award pricing ‘bands’ and these four night awards have a fixed price that could be more or could be less than what a four night award redemption would otherwise cost.

I don’t think these are the strongest value awards, though in some cases could save members some points on a 4 night stay. Losing this award isn’t an especially big blow to the program in my view. The key message is that it’s important to be able to predict what a loyalty program has to offer because fundamentally they are asking for our business now in exchange for benefits in the future. Glick suggests he understand the importance of that stability for members.

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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  1. Thanks and glad that they’re giving members a chance to make these bookings.

    BUT, what was his excuse for making the change if he wanted “to give advance notice of changes in the program”?

  2. “I don’t think these are the strongest value awards, though in some cases could save members some points on a 4 night stay. Losing this award isn’t an especially big blow to the program in my view.”

    Agreed and that was my point about this being a “tempest in a teapot.” It is good that this HHonors Vice President “apologized”, but the move is more about PR than a realization that the program did anything wrong. Allowing those who wish to take advantage of this feature of the program before they fade it out is a painless solution to quiet the brouhaha because the effects month-long extension will be minimal. The way to get around AXON, which is limited to AMEX card holders, is use the more general “5th award night free” benefit (book 5 nites get one free) rather than to book a 4-night AXON stay, which may or may not be cheaper…

  3. @Daniel says: “BUT, what was his excuse for making the change if he wanted “to give advance notice of changes in the program”?”

    He needed no excuse because the program’s T&C do make it clear that programmatic changes can be made without advance notice, and this is true of virtually every loyalty program. If terminating AXON were a decision that they felt would be consequential, I am sure that they would not have bothered revisiting it. It would have been final, and its condemnation simply ignored…with impunity.

  4. This smells to me more like the fallout from a spat between Hilton and AMEX – anybody jealous over the big promotion that’s being run with VISA, perhaps? – and now Hilton is smoothing things over a bit.

  5. Putting it charitably, that’s a silly conjecture. There have been a lot more promos involving the co-brand AMEX than those involving the co-brand Citi visa.

  6. I agree with poster, CW. This sounds like a fall out between Hilton and AMX. I would anticipate a change or deletion of the AMX partnership.

  7. @Mary sez: “I agree with poster, CW. This sounds like a fall out between Hilton and AMX. I would anticipate a change or deletion of the AMX partnership.”

    You arrived at that conclusion, on your own, based on the discontinuation of a largely obsolete feature? It would help just a tad to have a plausible basis for conjecturing. Do you even have a HH AMEX card?

    Well, I do and the purported falling out between Hilton and AMEX must have happened during the lull of the holiday season because as late as November ’16, AMEX was still promoting their their co-brand HH cards…heavily and stacked high. This is for just one stay:

    — 01 Nov 2016: AMEX 5,000 PTS ON US OFFER – Hilton Ft Lauderdale Beach Resort: 5000
    — 26 Oct 2016 – 30 Oct 2016: AMEX PLATINUM SELECTS HHONORS OFFER: 7500
    — 26 Oct 2016 – 30 Oct 2016: AMEX CO BRAND ONLINE BOOKING BONUS: 500

    G’day!

  8. @Darlene — No. The way to get the fifth award night free, and one does not even have to be a Diamond, is to book a 5-night award stay and the 5th night would be free. Silvers, Golds and Diamonds are entitled to the “5th award night free” perk. It is part of the reason the axing of AXON is no biggie for me…

  9. Tried calling several times to Diamond desk and contacting over Twitter. No one knows of this temptoary reinstatement of AXON.

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