Apparently, the new thing for hotel loyalty programs is to change the name of the program. We have the new World of Hyatt launching one month from today and now we also have the new Hilton Honors (first seen at One Mile at a Time). Along with Hilton’s name change come some new changes. Here are 5 of the new changes.
The New Hilton Honors Program & 5 New Changes
Link: The New Hilton Honors
If you are looking at the name wondering what is new about it, all they have done is to drop the extra “H” in the Honors name (thank you for that!). It is better this way anyway and certainly simplifies things. Maybe AA will go next with their AAdvantage name?
But, the new changes go beyond a simple dropping of a letter. With the new name comes some new changes to the program that will likely affect how you value your Hilton points (which most people would currently place around .5 cent per point now). Here are those 5 new changes.
New Hilton Honors = New Points and Money Redemptions
Unlike the typical points and cash redemption models we are used to with hotel loyalty programs, Hilton’s new redemption tool is actually a slider to let you select how many points you want to pay with – and then you pay the balance with cash based on that rate. Sound familiar? If you use Chase Ultimate Rewards to pay for travel, it is the same thing with that. But, there is no way we are getting as much value from Hilton points as we do with Ultimate Reward points! 🙂
Good or Bad? While this may not end up being in the best interest of the savvy traveler who likes to get optimum value for their points, this can be a huge help to the person who does not have enough points for that next redemption.
According to One Mile at a Time, an example given for what it would cost in such a situation is just under .5 cent per point when “buying” the difference in points.
This new option will be here late February 2017
New Hilton Honors = No More Hotel Categories
Link: New Pricing Page
To go along with the new redemption model, Hilton is doing away with award categories. While this takes away transparency for an award program, it is actually not a big step for Hilton. They have already been charging a range for categories anyway so you never knew from looking at just a category number what you would end up paying for that room. In fact, it was even possible to pay less for a hotel than the category required thanks to how they price suites.
But, it is not the near-term but the longer term that creates cause for concern. At present, Hilton says they will not charge more for a hotel than the current limit is. However, that doesn’t mean the average for any given hotel in points will end up being much higher than it is today.
Here is what Hilton says about this change,
“What this means: Just as the rate of a hotel room can change, the number of Points for a reward stay can vary as well.
What’s the benefit: When demand is lower, many nights will have a lower Points price. And when demand is higher, you won’t need to redeem more Points than the maximum price today.”
Good or Bad? The chart they show actually has some promising numbers. We will have to wait and see how it shakes out in real-world redemptions to know for sure, though. Given how award programs typically work when it comes to things like this, this will likely end up being a bad thing for all those who value their points.
Also coming in late February.
New Hilton Honors = Pooling Points
This new feature will allow Hilton Honors members to pool points with up to 10 friends or family members. This will be a great way to get the points you need quicker – as long as you don’t need to take 7 of those people with you when you redeem them!
Good or Bad? Seriously, though, this could be a huge benefit for Hilton Diamond members as they get special benefits on their stays that other members do not get so it would be a nice way to ensure that all the award stays are done with the resident Diamond member.
Points Pooling will be coming in April 2017
New Hilton Honors = Amazon Shop With Points
No word on what the rate will be but trust that it will not be good. I have seen some redemption options in the Hilton Honors area for purchases and the rates are horrible. Hilton advertises this new benefit for the person who does not travel much but still wants to get something for their points.
Good or Bad? Do not expect great deals with this since both Chase and American Express offer this with their valuable points but your value on Amazon redemptions is less than 1 cent per point.
Shop with Points will be coming in July 2017
New Hilton Honors = Bank Your Diamond Status
This is a nice move by Hilton to recognize that there are down years, even for frequent travelers. To help with that, they will give a one-time benefit of extending their Diamond status for one year. This will be for Diamond members who have held Diamond status for at least 3 years and have 250 qualifying nights or 500,000 base points. This is obviously for those who get Diamond status by actually staying at Hilton hotels.
Good or Bad? I think this is only fair to do since Hilton had pretty much given out Diamond status like candy in the last couple of years. At least this is for those who receive Hilton Diamond status by staying there.
Bank Diamond Status will be coming in March 2017
Typically, changes like these to rewards programs are never good in the end. But, as we have seen from Delta since they lost their award charts, there can be some good values that still pop up with cheap award flights.
Based on the history of award devaluations with travel providers, it may end up being bad for customers who redeem at high end properties. The mid-range, for me, with Hilton has always been the place where great value was anyway so hopefully it will retain that value going forward.
The toughest part about this whole shift in award programs is the inability to look at a stash of points and know how many nights you can get at a certain category. Now, that vacation length will depend on that sliding scale. We will just have to wait and see what this new Hilton Honors looks like in reality.
What do you think about the new Hilton Honors and their changes?