Frequent Miler asks “Is Hilton considering new elite benefits?”
The evidence is “[a] survey I took last week” looking at,
- New elite benefits
- Whether they need to offer consistent elite benefits across brands or whether members would react positively to new benefits at only come brands,
- A benefit for early check out (eg 500 points)
Conrad Bora Bora Nui
Surveys are things programs do all the time and don’t mean anything is imminent. However elite benefits have been on the Hilton radar for years. And it seems they are finally ready to do something about it.
Historically Hilton was able to offer modest elite benefits because their large competitors offered modest elite benefits. IHG and Marriott were similar-sized programs. The great elite benefits were reserved for smaller programs Hyatt and Starwood.
Now that Marriott has acquired Starwood and they’re launching a new program August 1 the calculation changes. Marriott initially added guaranteed late check-out early in the merger, and will be expanding free breakfast and introducing a more robust suite upgrade benefit.
Hilton elite status has long been generous with breakfast, offering a breakfast benefit to Gold members. And like just Moorish trader in Casablanca Hilton Gold is a drug on the market, everybody sells Hilton Gold, Hilton Gold is everywhere.
However Hilton does not provide elites with either,
- Guaranteed late check-out
- Suite upgrades except at the discretion of hotels (upgrades ‘may’ include suites but do not have to)
Conrad Koh Samui
Head for Points reports on attending a Hilton event that bloggers were invited to. I had a work conflict and couldn’t participate. He shares,
We were also given advanced notice of some new Hilton Honors member benefits which may come later this year. I can’t discuss them but if implemented they will address some of my few niggles with the programme and ensure that the scheme keeps pace with the combined Marriott / Starwood scheme.
This doesn’t mean it’ll happen for certain, as I say it’s been on the agenda for years and has been trumped by things like cash and points for any reward night and using points for low value redemptions at Amazon. But the Marriott program makes it more imperative, and it sounds like they’re putting a timeline to new benefits.
If I had to guess what those benefits are I’d start with late checkout and suite upgrades, the two glaring items missing from the program.
The Hilton survey did run down other possibilities such as “$5 credit for Starbucks/Uber/Lyft.” I attribute that to Hilton’s historical belief that they’re willing to spend a certain amount on an elite, and it doesn’t much matter to them how that money is spent. It’s a spreadsheet view of loyalty, I think, rather than figuring out a way to provide benefits that are valued by guests greater than their cost and that make guests feel truly valued.