For as long as we can remember, Hilton HHonors has piled on both the points in their hotel guest program as well as the extra bonus miles for your frequent flyer program — going so far as to register the use of the term ‘Double Dip.’
We chatted with Mary Beth Parks, president, Hilton HHonors Americas, to get an idea of what’s behind the latest enhancement of ‘Double Dip.’ Called ‘Options,’ it allows members to earn the way they like it.
InsideFlyer: Hilton’s idea of personalizing the way a member earns points with the ‘Options’ menu is new to the industry. How did it all come about?
Mary Beth Parks: Our customers have long told us that they value our Double Dipping benefit over the earnings provided by other hotel programs. And we’re always looking at ways to serve our customers even better. To us, that means offering benefits that meet their needs. Common sense and research both tell us that giving customers personalized options meets their needs better than a “one size fits all” approach!
IF: Could these new ‘Options’ be interpreted as a referendum of sorts on the perceived value of frequent flyer miles? In other words, are your members becoming more interested in earning and accumulating real HHonors points, and less interested in earning frequent flyer miles?
Parks: Our experience is that travelers begin to value hotel points more and more, as they travel more frequently. That doesn’t mean that they no longer value airline miles, but that the combination of points and miles becomes more attractive and meaningful.
IF: Do you expect each Option to hold relatively uniform appeal, i.e., each one will likely be chosen by 33 percent of participating members?
Parks: From our research, we expect to see strong demand for each option, but we don’t necessarily expect equal demand for each.
IF: Do you find that your elite members differ in their choice of Option vs. your general membership?
Parks: We did offer the Points & Points option during 2003, partly on a targeted basis, so we have some marketplace experience with it. As you’ve suggested, we found that this option was selected primarily by members with VIP tier status. This is consistent with our experience that travelers who are more frequent are the ones who tend to value hotel points at least as much as they value miles.
IF: Are you continuing to emphasize the ‘Double Dip’ aspect of the program, or will Options have it’s own, unique identity?
Parks: We are continuing to talk about Double Dipping … and now, members can Double Dip their way, by choosing the earnings option they most prefer. The options are really all about giving members new ways to Double Dip to best meet their needs.