Thursday, February 21, 2013

Why I am Sticking With Hilton

As many of you have heard, Hilton made some major changes in their award redemption's structure. In essence, they create additional categories for their top level properties. If you have been under a rock, you can read Loyalty Lobby take here, Gary's (View from the Wing) here or The Points Guy's here.

The typical reaction occurred: the community is up in arms. Those making the most noise are those who have been stashing away points for an aspiration trip. We are talking people with hundreds of thousands of Hilton Honor points.

Would I be upset if I had those balances? Probably. Do I feel bad for those people? Not at all. Devaluation happens every year. At least one brand changes their point redemption chart and the community gets upset. That’s why I don’t stockpile points. I am sitting on about 100,000 US Airways miles and that is making me nervous, because they are the next travel company to make a change (That is not a prediction, but a promise).

Many in the community have indicated that this change was the final straw. They are making their displeasure heard by talking with their money: spending it at other hotels. Chris mentioned yesterday that he is thinking of giving Club Carlson. I might be in the minority, but I am sticking with Hilton.


Hilton has been very good to me. Ever since I obtained Gold Status with them, staying with them has been great. Hilton Gold Status is one of the best low level hotel status out there. With Hilton Gold, I get: 
  • Quick reservations and check-ins based on your preference
  • Late check-out (when available)
  • Express check-out
  • Spouse stays free
  • Complimentary access to fitness centers and health clubs (when they charge)
  • Two complimentary bottles of water per stay
  • eCheck-In: Select your room and check in online up to 24 hours in advance at participating properties
  • Complimentary In-Room, High-Speed Internet Access during stays
  • Complementary Breakfast
  • 25% bonus on points
The free Internet and breakfast can save you tons of money. My most recent stay in Stamford, breakfast was the buffet in the restaurant. If I didn’t have status, I would have paid $19.99. I took two of buddies for breakfast, so I saved close to $60.00. Paying for Internet at hotels can be costly, upwards of $15 a day. Just with breakfast and Internet, my Gold status saves me money.

On the other hand, Gold, low level status at Starwood, gets you
  • Three Starpoints for every eligible U.S. dollar spent
  • 4 p.m. late checkout (when available)
  • An enhanced room at check-in (when available)
  • Special elite customer service telephone line (available in most countries).
  • Your choice of a welcome gift with each stay. Choose from bonus Starpoints, complimentary in-room Internet access and a complimentary beverage.

 Platinum level, Hyatt’s low level status is:
  •  Preferred room including rooms on higher floors or larger rooms, (when available)
  •  Complimentary in-room Internet access
  •  Dedicated check-in area
  •  Extend your stay until 2:00 p.m.(when available)
  •  15% point bonus when choosing points
To get Starwood Gold, one needs ten (10) stays or 25 nights. On the other hand, Platinum at Hyatt requires five (5) stays, 15 nights or getting the Chase Hyatt Card. Similar to Platinum at Hyatt, Gold at Hilton can be achieved with 30 stays, 60 nights, 120,000 base points of the Citi Hilton card.

Platinum at Hyatt and Gold at Hilton can both be received by obtaining a credit card, but Gold at Hilton provides breakfast and possible access to executive floor lounges (ie upgrades). In Tokyo, the lounge provided me breakfast, afternoon tea and evening appetizers. Why was this important? In a foreign country, the ability to have a guaranteed place to eat was comforting.

The guarantee with Hilton is quality. Hilton in the United States is the same as Hilton, all over the world. According to Hilton's website, the Hilton brand has over 3,900 hotels in 90 countries and 650,000 rooms, the most of any hotel chain. Compare that to Starwood being in 93 countries with only 1,000 hotels or Hyatt being found 46 countries with about 500 proprieties. As you can see, Hilton is in over half of the recognized countries of the world. You have a great chance that Hilton will have a hotel where you want to vacation. Other hotel brands can't say that.

The reason why I am sticking with Hilton is their Gold status. I get so much for giving so little. I have Gold status through the end of the year. At that point, I will get the Citi Hilton card, which hopefully still offers me Gold Status. Guranteed breakfast and internet are great preks, savings my travel budget upwards of $30 a day.

Yes, it will now cost more points to stay at certain hotels. It just means that we have to work harder in the "game." But the sweatness of those award rooms will be only better.

If Hilton reduces the benfits to Gold status then I am ending our relationship. Until that time, I am sticking with Hilton.


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