Hilton HHonors members will find several new features available to them this year including family pooling and a complimentary 12-month membership extension for Diamond-tier cardholders, not to mention a new program name under the ‘Hilton Honors’ banner – sans the additional ‘H’.
Also on the table: new ways of booking hotel stays using Hilton Honors points, and a rethink of the current category system and how it affects reward pricing.
Australian Business Traveller breaks down the changes to show how they’ll affect your next trip, and your points balance.
Hotels will no longer have categories
At present, every hotel that participates in the Hilton Honors program is assigned a category number on a scale of 1-10 which determines how many Hilton Honors points are needed to book a free night.
From late February, the category system will be discontinued and the number of points required per night then varying based on commercial demand – although Hilton claims that the number of points needed under the new system will not exceed the maximum rates charged under the current program.
For instance, the Conrad Maldives resort currently commands 95,000 Honors points per night as a Category 10 property, and will continue to charge the same number of points per night without the category system in place.
Other locations, such as the DoubleTree London Westminster, may instead require fewer points per night: going from 50,000-60,000 points per night under the Category 7 banner to 34,000-60,000 points per night based on commercial demand.
At the busiest times of the year or at highly popular hotels, this move could see travellers spending more points per night to book the same room – while at quieter hotels or during off-peak periods, the number of points required may well be less than before.
New points and money booking options
From late February, you’ll be able to pair as few as 5,000 Hilton Honors points with actual money to book a room: a great option for travellers with a small number of points in their account, but without enough to book a free night outright.
Have a slightly higher balance? For every further 1,000 points you spend in this way, the cash price owing will continue to decrease.
Outright room bookings using only Hilton Honors points (and no cash) will remain, although it’s expected that the favourable rates available via the current iteration of ‘points and money rewards’ may come to an end.
You can pool your points with friends and family
Come April 2017, all Hilton Honors members will have the option of automatically pooling their Honors points to friends and family members to help reach those free nights.
Each member will be able to pool a maximum of 500,000 Honors points to other accounts in each calendar year, and will be able to receive up to two million HHonors points per year from other members.
However, any pooled points a member receives won’t count towards their qualification for Silver, Gold or Diamond status: those points will simply be available to spend.
Diamond cardholders get a one-off membership extension
Whether it’s a new job, starting a family or a temporary dip in travel, Hilton Honors Diamond members will be able to extend their status for an additional year as a one-off favour from March 2017.
But not all Diamond members qualify: to be eligible, you’ll need to have been a Diamond guest for at least three years and have notched up either 250 qualifying nights or half a million base points during that time.
Successful requests will see a 12-month extension to your Diamond membership expiry date, without having to meet the usual qualification requirements: so if your Diamond status was due to end in February 2018, activating the extension pushes that to February 2019.