Hilton HHonors has decided to establish a presence on FlyerTalk with a corporate representative. That is a good sign of change for hotel loyalty members. And Hilton’s fresh start includes a link to the webpage for hotel reward category changes taking effect next week along with a list of all new Hilton brand hotels in 2014 with their associated reward category.

14 hotels drop in HHonors category.

HHonors 2014 hotels down

Barcelona, Spain sees a double category drop at two category 7 hotels reduced to category 5 effective on Tuesday, April 15. D.C. and Richmond, VA area also see some hotels dropping category.

25 Hotels Increase HHonors Reward Category.

HHonors 2014 hotels up

HHonors 2014 up-2

Conrad Algarve Portugal makes a double category jump from HHOnors category 7 to category 9. That is quite a leap.

List of 2014 New Hotels in HHonors

One of the other useful features added to the website is a list of new hotels and their corresponding reward categories.

HHonnors 2014 new hotels cat

Hilton is growing fast globally. In January 2014 alone, HHonors added 21 new hotels.

  • January 2014 = 21 new hotels.
  • February 2014 = 9 new hotels.
  • March 2014 = 25 new hotels.

This is a pace of more than 200 new hotels for 2014. The list of new hotels is useful information to help members keep aware of new opportunities for hotel stays.

HHonors Points Search Tool

Keep in mind that the Hilton HHonors category only indicates the range of points needed for a hotel reward night. To pin down the actual hotel reward rate, HHonors members must check the http://hhonorspointssearchtool.com/ link to see the reward rate for month of travel.

Related post: Hilton HHonors Seasonal Reward Rates clarified (Jan 24, 2014)

The Hilton IPO of December 2013 resulted in more portfolio transparency with public access now available to Hilton Worldwide hotel data. Finally, I can create a table of numbers for the ten Hilton brands from the company’s quarterly financial report covering 2013 full year and Q4-2013.

One of the most annoying aspects of Hilton Worldwide the past few years is the company did not publicly release information about its hotel numbers and room rates across the hotel chain. Basic data was not easily accessible for stuff like:

  • How many Hampton Inn or Hilton Garden Hotels are open?
  • What are average room rates at different Hilton hotel brands?
  • Which hotel brands are in different regions?
  • How many Hilton brand hotels are outside the USA?

Gathering these pieces of data with other hotel chains is simply a matter of checking the quarterly investor financial reports publicly available on the web. Hilton Worldwide as a private company until late 2013 did not post most of this data and their website was always hard to determine which data was accurate since some webpages citing hotel brand statistics were several years old.

The fall 2013 Hilton IPO changed all that.

Read More…

Hilton HHonors made a confusing change last year to their hotel reward categories when they created seasonal rates. The effect of this change makes it necessary to check a separate web page to determine the actual hotel category of any HHonors hotel listed as category 4 to 10, in order to determine the nightly points needed for a reward stay.

The only real need for a hotel category award level is to establish the number of points for an award night. Hilton HHonors put in place a system where many hotels have a fixed hotel reward category, yet the points needed for a reward stay vary based on the month of the year. Their system is  unnecessarily confusing and makes little sense compared to the fixed hotel category award rates used in other hotel loyalty programs.

Choice Privileges is the only other hotel chain that varies award level throughout the year. Starwood has peak season rates at high end hotels, but those are truly seasonal rates. HHonors is actually floating the hotel category without stating this is what they do.

This post uses the Hilton Garden Inn Monterey, category 7, as an example for why Hilton HHonors fixed hotel categories are meaningless.

Read More…

Blackstone investment group purchased Hilton Worldwide at the height of the real estate bubble in 2007 for $26.7 billion and took the lodging company private. This week Blackstone made Hilton a publicly traded entity by selling  117.6 million shares around $20 each. Insiders report investor demand exceeded supply.

Hilton raised $2.34 billion on Wednesday in the stock market. Hilton started trading as “HLT” Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Blackstone has invested about $6.4 billion in Hilton and still holding a 76.2% stake in the company, their investment is now worth about $15 billion. Blackstone is on course to gain 2.3 times its investment, making the Hilton buyout in 2007 one of the most successful private equity investments of its size.

Other Blackstone owned hotel chains are Extended Stay America which raised $565 million in a November IPO. La Quinta Inn is also expected to go public in 2014.

What does this mean for hotel guests?

Market Watch of the Wall Street Journal published a piece yesterday, What Hilton’s IPO means for hotel guests – Lobbies and loyalty programs both may get revamped. The article shares analysts views of what the IPO revenue will mean at the hotel level. Basically the piece suggests there may be funding to renovate hotel lobbies and some room updates like carpeting and wallpaper.

Hotel chains require their properties to make property improvements, but waivers are common, usually due to the difficulty of acquiring property financing in a tight lending market. Hilton going public as a company supposedly opens up more sources of funding for property improvements.

Phoenix Marketing International is a market research firm with interesting data on loyalty members. Their findings suggest 73% of loyalty members who redeem a free night award also purchase at least one additional room night. For each room redemption the loyalty member purchases 2.1 nights.

Hilton might boost its current rewards structure or improve or add partnerships with airlines, railways, rental cars and more. But, cautions Meliker [managing director and head of real estate and lodging research at boutique investment bank MLV and Company], these rewards program improvements, if they happen, are likely to be things that don’t cost a lot of money.

MarketWatch 12-12-13

After 2013 changes to Hilton HHonors, I don’t look forward to more program enhancements, The addition of Points and Money awards was a good change in a world of loyalty program hurt for HHonors members.

Hopefully, a move to attract new members will mean better loyalty promotions in 2014, but if avoiding changes that cost money, then improved HHonors bonus offers may not be the focal point in the future.

HHonors already has by far the most airline partnerships of any hotel loyalty program, so there seems little room for improvement on that front.

What else can HHonors offer members to improve the program?

According to most hotel guest surveys over the past decade that would seem to be free internet and breakfast.

Sources: Reuters Hilton Worldwide raises over $2.3 billion in biggest-ever hotel IPO (12/11/13)

Wall Street Journal Market Watch What Hilton’s IPO means for hotel guests, Lobbies and loyalty programs both may get revamped (12/12/13).

Hilton HHonors has 15 hotels in five European countries listed as category 2 hotel rewards. These are hotels that can be booked for 10,000 points per night, or for VIP elites (HHonors Silver, Gold, Diamond) for 40,000 points with a 5th night free reward.

Sometimes there is an even better discount for a Hilton HHonors category-2 hotel reward using a Points & Money Reward at 4,000 points and $35 per night instead of the Standard Reward at 10,000 points per night.

HHonors cat-2-Europe-15

Eastern Europe and the UK offer 15 category-2 hotels at only 10,000 points per night.

One of the great changes over the past 14 years since I started following Hilton HHonors closely has been what I term “Category Shift’, whereby each year some hotels in the lowest hotel reward categories are shifted up to higher categories. And new highest hotel categories for reward nights were added. In 2003 there were only six HHonors hotel reward categories and now there are ten categories in 2013.

Over the years the number of hotels in category 1 and 2 were pared down and few hotels remained in these lowest categories, especially for Europe.

There are some surprises like Hilton Newport, UK that was a category 4 hotel in 2010. Most of the European hotels at HHonors Category 2 are hotels that were not part of HHonors in 2010.

Here is a look at some of these European locations in search of locational value for the tourist and secondly for the business traveler.

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Hilton HHonors Category 2 hotels cost 10,000 points per night or 40,000 points for a 5-night stay for HHonors VIP elite. The cost of a category 2 hotel is 50% of the points required of a category 3 at 20,000 HHonors points per night or 80,000 points with 5th night free rewards.

Hilton HHonors is approaching 4,000 hotels worldwide. There are 35 category-1 hotels  (<1%) and 134 category-2 hotels (3%).

There are ten hotel reward categories in Hilton HHonors. The cost of HHonors reward nights are based on hotel category. HHonors redesigned its hotel reward category system in early 2013. 

HHonors Reward Chart by Category

The sweet spots of the HHonors Reward table are category 1 and 2, where if you can find a suitable hotel with reward space, then the cost of five nights at a 5,000 points category 1 hotel is the same 20,000 points cost for one reward night at a category 3 hotel. A category 2 hotel reward night at 10,000 points per reward night is half the cost of a category 3 reward night at 20,000 points.

The primary obstacle to getting great savings at category 1 and 2 hotels are the relatively small number of hotels in the two lowest reward categories.

Hilton HHonors Category 1 has 35 hotels worldwide, less than 1% of Hilton’s global portfolio. Only five of these hotels are in the USA. The 35 hotels in category 1 are listed in this Loyalty Traveler post: Where 35 HHonors Category 1 Hotels Are. These are highly discounted reward nights, but you have to be in one of the few locations like China, Egypt, Mexico, UK or Oman to find a hotel.

Hilton HHonors Category 2 has 134 hotels worldwide with 101 hotels in the USA. The hotels in the USA are concentrated in the southeastern states and Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico and scattered around midwestern states farm country of Illinois, Indiana and Iowa.

HHonors cat 2 by state

  • 24 states have Hilton HHonors category 2 hotels.
  • Alabama, Georgia and Texas have double-digit, 10 or more, category 2 hotels.
  • Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma have 5 or more HHonors category-2 hotels.
  • Only 10 of 101 Hilton HHonors category-2 hotels in USA are not Hampton Inn brand.

HHonors cat2 AL-Fl

One hotel that catches my attention on this list is Colorado Springs Airport.

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Hilton HHonors reduced the cost of Category 1 hotel rewards to only 5,000 points earlier this year. With the current 4x points promotion, a non-elite member can earn 45 points/$1 in hotel spend. Add Amex Surpass credit card payment and this can mean 57 points/$1.

October 10-January 31, 2014: More Nights, More Points

  • Double Points (20 points/$1) for 2-night stays.
  • Triple Points (30 points/$1) for 3-night stays.
  • Quadruple points (40 points/$1) for 4-night or longer stays.
  • Registration at HHonors.com/more.

Loyalty Traveler post: Hilton HHonors More Nights, More Points Q-4 Promotion only rewards extended stays September 30, 2013.

That is a free category 1 hotel reward room night for every $88 in hotel spend.

So where are these category 1 hotels?

There are 35 Hilton HHonors category 1 hotels in 10 countries.

Egypt, Mexico and China are the main international locations, yet there are other scattered properties in Argentina, India, Malaysia, Oman, and Turkey.

The United States has 5 hotels and United Kingdom has 2 hotels.

Hilton HHonors Category 1 Hotel List

Argentina has one category 1 hotel.

Hilton Garden Inn Tucuman Rates around $100 to $115 per night.

Tucuman is in northern Argentina and the 5th largest city in the country. The city of 500,000 people is considered one of the cultural capitals of Argentina. Located 800 miles from Buenos Aires. This location sounds like a totally different experience than Buenos Aires.

Egypt has seven category 1 hotels.

100,000 points can provide a 3-week vacation in Egypt. A place like Hilton Pyramids Gold Resort has room rates around $200 per night in January. The Pyramids and Sphinx are ten minutes away from the resort.

Alexandria, Egypt hotels are only around $100 per night room rates.

Hilton Dahab has very low rates around $50 to $60 per night. Located on the Red Sea in a windy region known for good windsurfing.

Hilton Hurghada on the Red Sea has three pools and a private beach. There are eleven restaurants and bars on site. Hotel offers scuba diving school. Rates around $50 per night.

Hilton Sharm Dreams Resort is located in Sharm El Sheikh. Resort has nine pools and private beach access. Rates around $100 per night.

Hilton Sharm Waterfalls Resort is on the shore of the Red Sea with onsite dive center. Seven outdoor pools. Rates around $110 per night.

There are some deals to be found as a tourist in Egypt if the political and civil unrest does not frighten you to stay away.

China has six Category 1 Doubletree Hotels.

Read More…

2013 has been the year of mobile app booking bonuses across the hotel chains. Hilton HHonors is giving 1,000 bonus points for every hotel stay booked through its iPhone app by December 31, 2013 for stays completed through December 31, 2014.

Hilton iPhone app is free.

HHonors iPhone app

You can read about this offer and download the Hilton iPhone app here.

Terms and Conditions

This offer is valid for eligible stays booked between September 6 and December 31, 2013 and completed September 6, 2013 – December 31, 2014 (“Promotion Period”) at any hotel or resort in the Hilton HHonors portfolio. Hilton HHonors™ members must first download the Hilton HHonors app for iPhone® and make a reservation using the Hilton HHonors App. HHonors members who book through the Hilton HHonors App during the Promotion Period will receive 1,000 Bonus Points per stay during the Promotion Period. Bonus Points will only be earned on stays with a check-in date during the Promotion Period. Bonus Points earned on Base Points do not count toward elite tier qualification. Please allow six to eight weeks from completion of your stay for points to appear in your HHonors account. Offer is not transferable, is not valid for groups and cannot be combined with other select offers.

 

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out my page of current hotel loyalty promotions across the major hotel chains.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed or subscribe to a daily email newsletter on the upper left side of this page.

Hilton HHonors has posted a preview of its More Nights, More Points Q-4 promotion offering 2x, 3x or 4x points for stays of 2 nights or more for stays from October 10 to January 31, 2014.

There is no bonus for one night stays.

What is the promotion?

Members who register and complete an eligible stay at participating Hilton HHonors hotels and resorts will earn their standard HHonors Base Points plus:

  • “Double Points” on stays of 2 consecutive nights,
  • “Triple Points” on stays of 3 consecutive nights, or
  • “Quadruple Points” on stays of 4 or more consecutive nights

Members staying 1 night will receive their standard Base Points and additional Bonus Points will not be earned through the More Nights, More Points promotion.

HHonors More Nights, More Points FAQ

  • Double points = 20 points per dollar.
  • Triple points = 30 points per dollar.
  • Qudruple points = 40 points per dollar.

Points and Points earners get an additional 5 points per dollar and elite bonuses are additional points.

HHonors 2013 Q4 promo

HHonors More Nights, More Points Sneak Peek

Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions
The offer (“More Nights More Points”) is valid for eligible stays completed between October 10, 2013 and January 31, 2014 (“Promotion Period”) at any participating hotel or resort in the Hilton HHonors™ portfolio click here for hotels who have chosen to not participate. Hilton HHonors members must first register at www.HHonors.com/More prior to check-out of your stay within the Promotion Period. Registered HHonors members will receive the bonus only for nights completed during the Promotion Period, regardless of a check-in date before the Promotion Period begins or a check-out date after the Promotion Period ends. For the More Nights More Points promotion, registered members will earn Double Points on stays of two (2) consecutive nights, Triple Points on stays of three (3) consecutive nights, and Quadruple Points on stays of four (4) or more consecutive nights during the promotion period.

“Double Points” means you will receive a bonus equal to the number of Base Points earned during a stay. “Triple Points” means you will receive a bonus equal to double the number of Base Points earned during a stay. “Quadruple Points” means you will receive Bonus Points of three times the number of Base Points earned during an eligible stay. Bonus Points earned on Base Points do not count toward tier qualification. Please allow six to eight weeks from completion of your stay for points to appear in your HHonors account. Offer is not transferable, is not valid for groups and cannot be combined with other select offers.

 

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out my page of collated current hotel promotions.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed or subscribe to a daily email newsletter on the upper left side of this page.

 

Forbes has an interesting article published this week by Carole Tice on Twitter IPO versus Hilton IPO: How They Stack Up. There are a couple of points made in the piece I want to share. The bottom line of the article is an online business can grow and then fall out of favor when a better program comes along. There is less risk with Hilton Hotels stock.

Twitter is seven years old. Twitter has 200 million users. I started using Twitter in 2008. Twitter is a virtual business. Popularity is the key to survival in the online business world.

Conrad Hilton bought his first hotel in 1919. There are now 4,000 Hilton brand hotels around the world. These are literally concrete assets, barring disasters that reduce the value of the hotel. Hilton has 125 million customers per year with 38 million loyalty members of Hilton HHonors.

Hilton hotel brands thrive even when many loyalty members swear off the chain after the point devaluations that come over and over again. Hilton is hard to ignore as the elephant on the lodging block, unless you are going to choose Marriott or IHG as the alternative big beasts of the hotel world.

Hilton is a $1.25 billion IPO giving the hotel company an estimated value of $30 billion. Hilton will offer the largest IPO for a lodging chain, beating out Hyatt’s 2009 $1.09 billion IPO record.

Blackstone Group in October 2007, made a leveraged buyout of Hilton Hotels Corporation for more than $18 billion plus $7 billion in assumed debt (WSJ – Sep 10, 2013) and Bloomberg Sep 12, 2013 article cites Blackstone’s cost for Hilton in 2007 at $26 billion. Apparently, in 2010 Blackstone negotiated $4 billion off the debt with creditors. Blackstone is planning to refinance $13.5 billion of Hilton’s remaining debt with $3.5 billion in Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities (CMBS) in what is anticipated to be the largest CMBS deal since the financial crisis of 2008. That’s all bank talk to me.

From the Hilton HHonors guest point of view the developments seem to indicate Hilton will have far more cash flow and that potentially can mean better promotions to maintain a positive spin on the Hilton brand. Positive chatter on social media could be good for the public offering of Hilton stock when it hits the market in 2014.

And good loyalty promotions, contests and sweepstakes help create positive brand publicity. I think 2014 might be a better year for Hilton HHonors guests.

We will see.

Lodging shares are trading in 2013 at their highest since 2007.

Net income at Hilton rose to $352 million in 2012 on $9.3 billion in revenue.

Twitter is estimated to have had $583 million in advertisement revenue in 2013.

I particularly like this section of the Forbes article:

Hilton’s secret weapon for growth

Where Hilton really shines compared to Twitter is in its growth strategy and the sophistication of its growth plan. While Twitter continues to grapple with how to monetize its audience — without pissing off users and driving them away with too many ads — Hilton has more than 665,000 hotel rooms open now, 170,000 of which opened in the past five years. Another 176,000 hotel rooms are in development, the most of any hotel chain.

Forbes Sep 17, 2013

News Sources:

Forbes Sep 17, 2013 – Twitter IPO versus Hilton IPO: How They Stack Up.

Bloomberg Sep 12, 2013 – Blackstone’s Hilton files for $1.25 Billion IPO in U.S.

Wall Street Journal Sep 10, 2013 – Blackstone Revisits Its Debt Plan for Hilton Expected $3.5 Billion Mortgage-Backed Securities Deal Will Test the Market, Which Has Become More Volatile Lately

 

Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out my page of collated current hotel promotions.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed or subscribe to a daily email newsletter on the upper left side of this page

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