60 Seconds with million-point spender, John McNeely

60 Seconds with million-point spender, John McNeely

We recently talked with John McNeely, who bid 1,000,000 Hilton HHonors points in an auction to benefit the American Red Cross and won the Ultimate Hilton Family/Precor Fitness package, which included $8,000 in Precor exercise equipment and a year’s supply of POWERade. McNeely is the President of Hi-Lite Markings, Inc., a leading airport runway maintenance contractor and as such, spends a good amount of time in Hilton properties.

InsideFlyer
How did you earn so many HHonors points?
John McNeely
I travel about two to three weeks of every month and I keep a close eye on bonuses and promotions on FlyerTalk. I also have the HHonors Platinum credit card, which accumulates points fast.

IF
How long did it take you to earn a million points?
McNeely
About five years.

IF
Do you collect miles as well as HHonors points?
McNeely
I collect Northwest miles, Priority Club points and HHonors points, but I like to keep all of the points separate for the most part because each program has a lot to offer and I don’t want to miss out on opportunities with any of them.

IF
Can you share with us some of your favorite ways to earn HHonors points? And your favorite Hilton hotel property?
McNeely
I guess my favorite way to earn points is with the Hilton HHonors Platinum credit card from American Express and if I earn a lot of miles from an airline, I use the earning style from HHonors. As far as Hilton properties, I like the Hilton Toronto, Downtown. Great rooms and location for business and pleasure. Excellent club floor with great view of the city.

IF
What would you have done with the 1,000,000 HHonors points if you hadn’t spent them on the auction?
McNeely
I was initially saving them for a trip to Hawaii. I was going to save up to stay at a Hilton resort there for about two weeks.

IF
How was the auction process? What attracted you to the Ultimate Hilton Family/Precor Fitness Package?
McNeely
I actually waited until the last two days and saw that the highest bid looked about 600,000, so I bid 1,000,000 to be sure I would win. I didn’t bid until the last minute really. I just thought it was a great deal and good cause. I recognized the brand name [of the equipment] and wanted some exercise equipment to use at home. I know the Red Cross always does a lot with storm and disaster relief and thought they could use the miles the most.

IF
How did it feel to spend so many points at one time?
McNeely
I wasn’t expecting to use so many points at once. It was really just a spur of the moment decision. I get emails about auctions from Hilton all the time and this was the first one that was really appealing to me.

IF
If you could give our readers one tip to help them get the most from their Hilton HHonors membership, what would it be?
McNeely
Get the credit card and I always keep my eye out for bonuses on FlyerTalk.

IF
What do you like the most about being an HHonors member?
McNeely
Wherever I go, there’s a Hilton property. They also have a lot of properties near airports and it’s easy to rack up points.

IF
Looks like you’ll be drinking a lot of POWERade this year. Do you like POWERade or Gatorade better?
McNeely
Hmmm … I like POWERade.

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