Yes, Hilton is Looking to Add New Elite Benefits Soon

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.

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, 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. The lack of a guaranteed 4 PM check out has cost them a lot
    Tens of thousands from just this customer alone
    I can imagine now with the newly merged Marriott program they are going to get creamed without bringing forth the benefit IHG has 4 PM Hyatt & now Marriott worldwide

  2. Just stayed at a Sheraton. Received 4pm checkout; upgrade to suite; 2 drink tickets.

    The above beats breakfast seven days a week.

  3. Honestly I don’t care about breakfasts, since I am not a morning person.
    About upgrades, the last time I got a real upgrade to a suite is on an overseas Hilton properties. UK is really bad when it comes to any form of upgrades. I don’t even get a higher floor room most of the times. I sincerely hope that we will get more elite benefits especially guaranteed late check outs and more upgrade opportunities. I found myself staying at Starwood properties taking advantage of the the 4pm late checkout. In many major cities, especially in New York, late checkouts almost never happen.

  4. 100 nights a year on the road. Hilton diamond member (not all those nights are Hilton nights, but Hilton is only program in which I maintain elite status).

    I can’t think of a benefit I care less about than suite upgrades.
    A suite is just more empty space I won’t use.

    Breakfast – that’s a meaningful benefit.

    Guaranteed early check-in and late check-out would be awesome.

  5. I never ask for early check in because I really care about hire, and Early check-in make that less likely has an upgrade

  6. I took this Hilton survey…

    Ill be in a hotel for 11 months this year. AFTER 150 nights at Hiltons this year, Im over into ChoiceHotels now for their $50 gift cards for 2 nights. Since work pays for my rooms, I look for benefits like this. Especially when it turns into $1500 of Lowes giftcards for a new refrigerator. I can put up with Choice Hotels here in Tampa and believe it or not, their customer service is a lot better than most Hiltons. And Choice matched my elite status at Hilton

  7. Hilton does themselves a disservice by making it too easy to attain their elite status levels. No credit card should give anyone more than lower end of status or there just isn’t a reason to bank nights with them. Generally the more difficult a status is to achieve the more it is worth.

    Having a decent breakfast benefit – not a $10 voucher – at resorts is worth something to elites. For the most part resorts are where their elites will spend their points and where they can’t get reimbursed.

  8. I would trade away the free breakfast for late checkout in a heartbeat. I know the people travelling with families disagree, but for the rest of us, the oatmeal I make in my hotel room is better than 90% of the free breakfasts. At least my oatmeal doesn’t look like the hotel’s “oat soup.”

    I spend hundreds of nights a year in hotel rooms, and I am comparing the elite experience between Marriott, IHG, Hyatt and Hilton to see who gives me the best “value.” Hilton’s late checkout policy really puts them at a disadvantage.

    OTOH, if Hilton does introduce guaranteed late checkout, you know the franchisees will screw it up for a couple of years. Just look at how poorly a lot of the Marriott franchisees have screwed up the new SPG benefits.

  9. They need to make the breakfast benefit consistent across brands. If the property can make food, I want some, eh?

    Also, no more of this “$10 coupon toward a $30 hot meal” nonsense.

  10. These changes are really needed IMHO. I have been Hilton “Gold” for years. In the past 3-4 years, I have participated in “Diamond” matches, and I have to say I have not been impressed. To the point where I gave up even trying to retain “Diamond” status. On a high percentage of my initial stays during the “match” period, I had to file complaints with the HHONORS desk, as the properties could not resolve simple issues. These were all on simple customer service sort of issues. Double billing, assigned rooms with trash still in them etc. Hilton needs to up their game on the “soft product” (e.g. customer service, late checkouts, etc.) and not just the “hard product”. Maybe they should strive to be as good as SPG?

  11. The breakfast benefit and late checkout means the most to me.

    Don’t care about suites but I have been “upgraded” to really nice rooms like that room at the Conrad Bali where I was upgraded to an oceanfront room on the ground level. I could open my doors and walk 10 feet to the beach. The room was a regular room but the spot was amazing and I would take this over a presidential suite on the top floor.

    I’d like for Hilton to improve quality of executive lounges and establish a consistent minimum standard. Those lounges in the USA and Europe are really pathetic. Resorts should try to have a managers happy hour for elites.

  12. The only benefit I want to see if that Hilton stop giving away status to every tom, dick and harry who has one of their CC. If they want to do this, at least put a spend requirement to it.
    Other than that, yes I hope that they will up their game for Elites (Gold and above) especially with regards to
    – early/late check-in/out
    – keep current breakfast benefits but roll it across the board (hate the complicated situation at the Marriott-SPG hotels)
    – possibility of upgrades to suites
    – instead of the $5 gift cards, add an option to (where applicable) 50% off parking or complimentary

  13. There aren’t any complimentary space available suite upgrades in the new Marriott program either. It carries forward the exact same legacy Marriott policy.

  14. As a Hilton Diamond, the thing I want most from Hilton is consistency. Paying $400+ to stay at a Waldorf and not getting a hot breakfast that I’d get at a $179 Hilton doesn’t make sense. And why do some Hiltons and Conrads have executive lounges, while others don’t? Seems like they need some brand standards here as it’s very confusing as a guest.

  15. Even as a lowly Hilton silver recently had nice benefits at a property in Africa. Checked in early and was allowed a late check-out, literally got 23 hours and 45 minutes. Got free breakfast. Due to a hot water issue the concierge very kindly comped some drinks and snacks. Was quite impressed and given the upcoming SPG/Marriott downgrade (in my case) will consider shifting more business to Hilton starting in September, especially if these new elite benefits do emerge.

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