Changes for Hilton Honors
Hilton is announcing some big changes to the Hilton Honors program. Starting March 28, 2013 the loyalty program will jump to ten hotel reward categories. Hilton's e-mail to HHonors members claims the change is to accommodate the growing numnber of hotels and resorts in the Hilton family. There are currently seven award categories. Reward categories determine how many HHonors points a member will earn for a stay as well as how many points are necessary for a free night. The higher the category, the more points required. The top hotels will go from 50,000 points per night to as much as 95,000 points. That's a huge increase.
Hotels will also begin offering seasonal pricing for reward stays, meaning the amount of points required for a free stay will vary depending on the time of the year. This is a tiered reward availability similar to some frequent flier programs. Within each reward category there will now be a range of points necessary for a stay.
The third change Hilton is introducing is a fifth night free for all Silver, Gold and Diamond HHonors members. The perk works when a HHonors member books at least five consecutive nights at a standard room rate. The free night will be based on the average nightly value of the stay. This replaces Hilton's current discounts for elite members who stay a minimum of four nights.
Overall it looks like Hilton is going to make it more expensive and a less convenient to use points for free nights. This is my initial impression. I've already decided this year to spend more time visiting Starwood properties to take advange of my Gold status and Starwood's new partnership with Delta. This change by Hilton is going to make that switch even easier.
Earlier this year Hilton raised the number of nights required to qualify for Gold status to 20 stays, 40 nights or 75,000 base points. Hilton has over 3900 hotels and resorts in 90 countries.
You can view the new categories and point redemtion amounts on Hilton's website.