Yes, once-upon-a-time Hilton had an earn and redeem proposition that made its program a leader in value. Then in 2007 it fell into the hands of Corporate Raiders Blackstone who simply intended to increase earnings from hotels by charging franchisees more and slash costs by dismissing staff and cutting the wages of those that remained, then sell it on and pocket the profit. Instead the financial crisis happened and nobody was doing deals. Blackstone was left as long-term owners, and so looked at other ways to maximise profits till they could unload. Eventually their search of the Hilton Manor led them to the Hilton Honors loyalty program and with a wolfish grin they sharpened their knives...
Ok, so it’s a Coyote, but I like Wile.E. Coyote, and it’s my blog, right!
I’ll not go into the gory details on the rest of the sorry story. Needless to say Blackstone gutted the earn and burn proposition but expanded in-stay benefits that of course are paid for by the franchisees, not Hilton. Eventually Blackstone floated Hilton and earlier this year sold their final stake into the market, ending an 11-year holding.
Hilton has recently announced its improved top-tier Diamond benefits package that includes free breakfast across all brands and no Resort fees on redemption. More improvements paid for by franchisees, but it seemed an indication that Marriotts biggest and closest competitor was making a play to increase its membership whilst Marriott was going through its merger pains. But what Hilton hasn’t announced is the end of its 5,000 points starting price.
Now to be honest Hilton's 5,000 point starting price didn’t cover many properties, indeed according to Loyalty Lobby here Hilton Honors Master Property List March 2018 | LoyaltyLobby they numbered just 47 of its 5,221 hotels. There were 154 properties at 10,000 points, and 6 - yes you read that right, just 6 - 15,000 pointers. Alas, even those measly numbers were too high for Hilton’s cost-cutters.
Hilton announced a couple of years ago that it would no longer be publishing property redemption movements and here it’s been as good (or bad) as its word. Effectively it seems virtually all the 5k, 10k and 15k properties have been moved to 20,000 points with just the merest smattering kept back at 10,000. I found just one in Europe, at Newport. Remember, in reality only 207 of Hilton's 5221-property inventory were under 20,000 points. Now I suspect we’ll be lucky if there’s double figures. Effectively, Hilton’s redemptions now start at 20,000 points. Of the 10-base points per $ brigade Marriotts redemptions start at 7,500, IHG at 10,000 and Hilton now at 20,000. Bearing in mind that IHG introduced two new top categories at 65,000 and 70,000 points this year, just a couple of years after introducing categories 55,000 and 60,000 and the pattern is clear, the big boys don’t particularly care about their redemption values, cutting at both the top and the bottom and devaluing when a key rival is struggling to merge its gargantuan program suggests whichever scheme we belong to we need to keep a careful eye on both cash and redemption rates, and a firm hand on our wallet and pockets - The Man is after us all!