For anyone with a stash of Hilton HHonors points tucked away the news out today is likely to drive you just a wee bit crazy. And not in a good way. Hilton announced the changes for their 2013 program rules and the details are not good news at all. The new rules go into effect on March 28, 2013. On the plus side, elites will get a 5th night free with any 4 night award reservation. On the down side, however, there are now 10 different tiers for hotels and within the top 7 of those tiers variable pricing based on which month of the year you are booking the hotel. It is, quite frankly, a mess.
The 5th night free thing matches other major brands and I suppose that’s nice for some of their members. I don’t begrudge them that benefit though it means nothing to me; I haven’t stayed that long in any one place that I can remember. Maybe 10 years ago in St. Lucia but that property isn’t even a Hilton anymore. So there is a little bit of value in that benefit but not for me.
The other changes, however, pretty much destroy the program, if only by making what was already probably the most complicated hotel program even more difficult to manage and understand. Here’s the old award chart:
Pretty straightforward and easy to figure out. Not so much with the new one:
So I suppose the first thing everyone is supposed to get excited about is that the points required for a room are dropping at the bottom end of the spectrum. And they are. Alas, there aren’t all that many properties there. And the inflation and complexities introduced at the mid-tiers are miserable. Here’s a look at some NYC hotels over a 3 month window:
Not only are some of the rates astronomical but the variation is hard to comprehend. Everything is at max rate in November/December in New York City. I get that. But in January they don’t drop consistently. Figuring out rates will take way too much time and effort. And that’s putting aside that all the rates are at least 40% higher than they are today at peak season; the DoubleTree in Times Square is one of many properties now 95% more expensive to book. YIKES!
I’m not going to spend much time going through all the properties to figure out what got more expensive. My quick scan of major cities is sufficient for me to believe that enough have to make this move similar to the Marriott devaluation from last week: Massive. And with the added bonus of making things way more confusing than they need to be.
This one really hurts.