After Hilton’s dramatic award chart gutting of nearly two years ago, there weren’t huge changes again this year.
Hilton decided to change the way they made changes to how they re-assign hotels to award categories. Instead of an annual change to tons of hotels (a schedule they really weren’t wedded to in the past anyway) they decided they would make rolling changes throughout the year. And instead of informing all members proactively of these changes, they would just post them on a web page in the name of ‘transparency’.
At least they are announcing the changes. And savvy members could create a change detection for the page.
Hilton HHonors is making category adjustments to several hotels effective October 14.
33 get more expensive. Overall a sliver of the overall HHonors portfolio (although when you make these changes several times a year it’s easy to make any given cohort of changes seem small).
For good measure, 9 hotels are dropping in category. (There are also 93 new hotels assigned categories for the first time.)
That’s after 18 hotels went up and 2 went down in July.
Of course HHonors categories do not all have fixed award prices anyway so category changes aren’t the only way to increase reward night prices. And there are no announcements when hotels get more expensive within a category thus we really can’t say whether there have been big increases or not.
Lucky suggests this makes sense. Back in April I walked out of a meeting with Hilton’s Mark Weinstein right as he was walking in. And the insight he gleaned from the conversation was Mark’s comment that, “paid room rates vary night to night, so why shouldn’t the points rates reflect that?”
In other words, Hilton’s awards are like Delta’s. Just as HHonors premium room awards are based on the actual paid rate at the hotel for the room type booked on a given night, that’s the direction they’ve gone with their award nights as well.
What this means, of course, is that you don’t get outsized value from your points. While hotel programs are somewhat revenue-based generally (reward categories based on the average cost of a room redemption) you can do very well by this — pay cash when rates are cheap, redeem points on nights that hotels are expensive. But Hilton prices many of their awards so you can’t do that, since they vary the points price along with a hotel’s prevailing rate.