Complimentary Internet access for elite members is gradually becoming the norm among hotel loyalty programs. Hyatt Gold Passport started the trend last year by offering free Internet to all elite members.
Starwood Preferred Guest began offering in-room complimentary Internet to its Platinum members (but not Gold) on March 1 of this year and Marriott Rewards announced soon after that Gold and Platinum Marriott Rewards elite members would receive Internet access for free at properties in the U.S. and Canada beginning May 7. The benefit has since been extended to include properties across North, Central and South America.
Now Hilton HHonors has announced that as of Sept. 1, 2010, Hilton HHonors Gold and Diamond members will receive complimentary high-speed Internet access at all of Hilton Worldwide’s 10 brands, which includes over 3,600 hotels. Gold and Diamond members will receive free Internet when staying at Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations properties worldwide. To receive complimentary Internet access, members will need to complete at least 16 stays, 36 nights or earn 60,000 base points in a calendar year to earn Gold status. To reach Diamond status, you will need to complete 28 stays, 60 nights or earn 100,000 base points in a calendar year.
Bottom line: Some HHonors members are concerned that free Internet access may mean a reduction in upgrade opportunities. Right now, elite members can choose to receive free Internet, room upgrade and free breakfast, bonus points or another option (depending on the property) as a My Way On-Property benefit. For members who have selected complimentary Internet as their My Way preference, the selection will automatically change to a space-available room upgrade, which means that the number of elite members eligible for upgrades will increase. Most members, however, are pleased with the news and would agree with FlyerTalk member, pedropescador, who said, “Glad that Hilton joined the rest of the industry and will provide free Internet at least to their most loyal customers.”