What Do You Think About Hilton Honors’ Changes To The Free Breakfast Benefit for Gold / Diamond Members?

Hilton Honors recently announced that it is temporarily dropping the free breakfast benefit at ‘full service’ hotels in the USA for Gold and Diamond members. Instead, members will be offered a credit that can be applied to breakfast, or any other food/drink charged to the room.

The new policy starts in July 2021 and will run (initially?) until the end of the year. 

Details

Hilton hasn’t officially confirmed the value of the credits yet, but it is understood to look something like the following:

  • $25 for luxury brands (Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, LXR Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts)
  • $12 for full service/lifestyle brands; $15 for full service/lifestyle brands in ‘high-cost markets’ (Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree, Canopy, Signia, Curio Collection, Tapestry Collection, Motto)
  • $10 for Hilton Garden Inn hotels
  • Credits must be used daily and apply to up to 2 registered guests per room. 

Right now, this initiative only applies to hotels in the United States.

Bottom line

The new policy primarily affects leisure travellers – particularly those who have family with them. Business travellers can typically get the cost of breakfast reimbursed.

This is a bit of a surprise move from Hilton – one of the big benefits of Hilton Honors Gold is the consistency of knowing you can have a free breakfast whenever you stay. I can’t see $15 getting you much to eat/drink at Hilton hotels in cities like New York and LA…

That said, people who aren’t big breakfast eaters would almost certainly receive more ‘value’ overall from having a nice snack or drink using the credit later in the day.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Presumably, Hilton thinks this is a way to save money that won’t annoy too many guests with elite status. If that theory is right, expect to see the policy expanded to other regions and extended into next year and beyond.

What’s your view? – do you love free breakfast, or would you be happier with a more flexible credit?

Comments

  1. Tom says

    I stayed at a Hilton garden in this week and indeed was told that I no longer receive a free breakfast but also was told that I was given no credit in its place.

    • Scott says

      Hilton Loyalty Members should have a choice when they get to the property of a free breakfast or credit. Each property is different. Most credits will not cover the price of a breakfast at a property. Hilton is stating that this change was requested by other Loyalty Members. I’m sure there are a few, but was it a majority? I highly doubt the decision was based on members requests. It’s all about the money. This definately rubs me the wrong way. I will be comparing other Loyalty programs. Highly disappointed with Hilton’s decision.

    • ATL Traveler says

      Very much like what I was told at the Hilton Orrington/Evanston on July 3: there was no F&B credit, just points. No explanation and unapologetic; in fact, the “guest service” person at the hotel was fairly rude about the whole thing.

      Perhaps Hilton rolled this out without buy-in from their hotel owners/managers?

      Hilton Diamond (but now questioning whether loyalty to Hilton loyalty means much much to that brand)

  2. John Maloney says

    It’s really a bit disappointing the changes I see on hotel rewards and points in general. I think that Hilton along with other hotel chains and airline rewards have dropped / been cut so significantly that their “Loyalty” carrots they dangle before you will cost them in the future.
    Customer service in all areas of hospitality is also falling by the wayside.
    There is no question that Hilton along with other hotel chains and the airlines are in business to make money BUT cutting the benefits of loyalty programs will certainly hurt them. To say the very least, I am very disappointed!

    • Craig Sowerby says

      I agree. I’m gathering my thoughts for an opinion article arguing just how reckless this change is for Hilton…

      • Marieanne W. says

        As HGV owners, my husband and I recently attended an owner’s informational meeting at the Elara in Las Vegas. To entice us to purchase additional points, the presentor went on and on about the the inherent value of using club points for family trips at the Hilton brand of hotels. However, our personal experiences suggest otherwise. For instance, when booking a stay at the Embassy Suites in Michigan using HH points earlier this month, we were told that we’d get only a “bagged breakfast.” Additionally, the hotel was using the bar area for a private employee event… So no cocktail hour, or compensation, for guests. The reservation was made through Hilton, and we had specifically inquired, and were assured that a full breakfast and Manager’s reception were included. We cancelled the reservation at check-in time, but it’s taken many calls and complaints to get our points refunded. Hilton continues embarking on a less for more approach to customer service. Unsatisfied.

        • Pat says

          Hilton in US was already subpar in general when it came to food and beverage for Gold/Diamond. Lounges are almost non-existent in US as well which further devalues benefit of loyalty. I just hope they don’t try and replicate this outside the US as full buffet and lounge is already back on offer overseas.
          Hilton may not be my first choice when traveling in US in future.

        • Gerald Alderfer says

          My favorite perk is gone. No matter what credit is given in it’s place it will be less than the free breakfast. Upgrades are rarely available at most of the chain. Being Gold no longer is a perk. Even one hour later checkout has become a hassle

    • Charles says

      Worst business move Hilton could make….. Especially coming out of a pandemic where people are looking to travel and may be doing so ALREADY on a strained budget due to employment issues they may have faced…. Being able to save as much as possible I’d imagine is definitely always a positive amongst travelers I’d imagine…..not good Hilton…. You’re better than that

  3. Louis says

    This and other comments by their CEO about service cuts has moved them from the top to near the bottom on my list.

  4. Cherie Hauck says

    This move by Hilton will be one tipping point over the scale of looking to spend more time, loyality and my money with other tier competitors. I’ve been a Diamond status since for many years and enough is enough! No more early check in, late check out -upgrades or they will cost you!
    I’m currently at the Universal City California Hilton with my family , fir a special event.
    Two nights , two rooms , more than two in our family and have not been told this policy until check in. I do not do breakfast and loved having points applied instead generally when on business. I was told only points in their restaurant establishments . I have have a previous business dinner reservations elsewhere! So ya snooze , you lose!?!
    BTW one of the rooms , smells so terrible like cigarettes, with COPD and an infant staying in there, I let them know . I do not complain much.
    “We don’t clean the room if staying two nights but will send housekeeping up tomorrow to that room”
    Hello…get a handle on service.
    Lastly, to the check in desk person ….find a job you want/like…or was it the color of my skin tone?

  5. Jeff says

    I’m a lifetime diamond who is now back on the road the last two months after being sidelined at home during the pandemic. I understand why some hotels couldn’t offer full breakfast during the heart of the pandemic. However, now that many of their restaurants are how opening, I find the timing to change their free breakfast policy on July 1 to be a slap in the face to my loyalty. This weekend I stayed at a Garden Inn with my family (wife and two kids) and was charged $60 for 4 continental breakfasts which consisted of fruit, toast, bagel, muffin, oatmeal, juice, and coffee but no hot items like eggs, pancakes, bacon. I only received a $10 credit for two guests. I saw Marriott just forced their properties at the end of June to provide free breakfast for elite members. A colleague of mine has been saying for a while I should request a status match and switch over to staying at Marriott properties as he believes the loyalty program is better. I am seriously considering it now that I am back on the road on a weekly basis.

  6. Lynda says

    I’ve been a member for 20 years. This is an insult. For $12.00 I will have enough money to buy a coffee and a muffin. I just booked at a better rate, including breakfast at the Hyatt in Dublin, Ireland and The Hyatt in Denver, Colorado. I was not that impressed at the last Hilton in San Antonio I stayed . There hotels have gone down hill! I joined Hyatt. Less points are required also.

  7. Jin Han says

    Even if I skip the breakfast, I still prefer to have the breakfast option. It’s a big deal, and big part of benefit taken away…

  8. Ken A says

    Hey Hilton. Is it really that profitable to have new corporate policies across every Hilton brand designed to screw your long-time elite guests?

  9. Laura Borec says

    I have been diamond for years. On our recent Hilton Garden Inn stay, in Carlsbad, we were told about this change! Somehow, I missed this email! We were offered extra points or $10 credit per person, per day, for breakfast.
    We opted for the breakfast. The only way that this qualified as a buffet, was in the price they charged, $18.99 per person for a very pathetic offering. After tax and tip (we tipped on full amount, not the servers fault) and minus the $10 credit. it was still @ $14 per person!
    We have always enjoyed the convenience of having the breakfast available. Some of the breakfasts have been quite good, enhancing our stay (I’m thinking of the wonderful buffet at the London Hilton, San Diego Hilton, etc!).
    I still have almost a million points with Hilton. I have always been loyal to Hilton and a huge cheerleader for Hilton brands. Recently I booked 2 different upcoming stays (Palm Springs and Phoenix) with Marriott brands.
    Goodbye Hilton!

  10. David C. says

    Long-time Diamond member with over 1.5M points. Travel extensively; over 30 stays so far this year. When planning a trip ALWAYS stay at a Hilton property. Erosion of Diamond perks has steadily increased. Almost never get an upgrade, although in fairness I typically book the more expensive accommodations. Late check-out regularly allowed but early check-in seldom offered. Where reserved parking spaces are provided they are typically full, with no enforcement to ensure only Diamond members are using them.
    Now the breakfast benefit is going away, “temporarily” it is advertised but one wonders because of the substantial financial benefit how it could possibly not be made permanent. Alternatives such as Points or “Credit that can be used on other food/beverages on the property” is laughable. Ditto the claim that “This is what people are asking for.” I read the same words when our standalone neighborhood bank was relocated to a tiny stall in a nearby grocery store.
    On a recent overnight stay at Newark Airport Hilton our bill for two normal hot breakfasts was $72 including tax and a $4 tip. The $24 check-out credit had not been applied until I asked for it.
    Long-term I believe this will result in a net corporate loss, although it will be difficult if not impossible to quantify. I may not care, because to me, the lure of competing loyalty programs, Marriott or Hyatt, is compelling.

    • Ken A says

      On a recent overnight stay at Newark Airport Hilton, our bill for two normal hot breakfasts was $72, including tax and a $4 tip. The $24 check-out credit had not been applied until I asked for it.

      Yikes. The dining service at Hilton properties during the last two years has gone in the gutter. A $4 tip (5.5%) may be too generous. Next time, join the other screwed-over Hilton Diamond elites and walk over to McDonald’s to enjoy a better dining experience.

      • Craig Sowerby says

        Hilton won’t care if you walk over to McDonald’s. They WILL care if you walk over to Marriott, Hyatt or IHG…

  11. Joe Johnson says

    I am a Hilton Diamond member and have been for over 20 years. I am also a gold level meme we with Marriott.
    Besides the increased bonus points earned as a Diamond member, the free breakfast is the most important perk for me. Having them do away with this would not matter as much if it were not for the fact that hey have also been closing their ‘Honors lounges’ at hotels across the country. When I first climbed my way up to Diamond Statius 20+ years ago, nearly every full service Hilton had a lounge. Now it is the rare hotel that has one. The Honors lounges serve breakfast.

    $12 is a joke. I am typing this from my room at the Doubletree hotel in Cleveland, OH, where the breakfast buffet costs $16 per person, this I’d have to do a magic trick to make $12 become $32 to cover breakfast…

    Marriott still have lounges in the majority of their full service hotels. They serve breakfast.

    Looks like I will be loosing my Diamond status and gaining Ambassador Elite status with Marriott this year.

    Seems an odd way to try and save money. A breakfast buffet costs pennies per guest (minus staff if course). But as a business traveler, I do not want to deal with the logistics of finding a restaurant to eat prior to business meetings in the morning.

    My message to Hilton: “Penny wise and pound foolish has ruined many companies, you’re just one more.”

    Good bye, we had fun together, but now it’s tine to bud ye adieu. If you need me, you can find me at a Marriott.

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Thanks for sharing.

      Just when Marriott seems to be screwing up badly, Hilton goes and shoots themselves in the foot with this breakfast thing…

  12. Sharon Tamm says

    My husband and I are long-time Hilton Diamond members. We have made liberal use of the benefits that correspond to that status over the years, staying in some of their lovely properties overseas, such as the Conrad Tokyo, Hilton Shinjuku, etc., in countries outside the US where benefits tend to be more elaborate and welcomed by guests.

    The only reason I can think of that Hilton would discontinue such benefits is because they find them no longer financially sustainable.

    I would estimate that in the higher end brands, the cost of club lounge and breakfast benefits to Diamond members could reach as high as $60/pp.

    On the one hand, I can understand why they either couldn’t or wouldn’t want to continue that kind of outlay.

    On the other hand, having received those benefits for several years, and knowing that I can receive similar benefits through other hotel chains, this is definitely a deal breaker for me and my husband.

    The fact that Hilton is using covid as an excuse to discontinue benefits is also thoroughly annoying. I write this while sitting in the breakfast room of the Hilton San Jose, CA, where I am using my $12 “credit” for a breakfast item on a menu where virtually nothing is covered by that $12 credit. I’m having a bagel sandwich. One of the only items on the menu that lists for $12. In the past, the full cost of any breakfast would have been covered for Diamonds, be it a sit-down breakfast or a full buffet, and club lounge is a thing of the past.

    One thing I wasn’t aware of, that the receptionist at check-in told us is that they ARE planning to discontinue club lounge access in all properties.

    While I don’t like the vibe at Hyatt properties generally, as much, we had been thinking of jumping ship to Hyatt, and with this being Hilton’s latest move, we will be doing that.

    Though you have to ask yourself, if one large chain is cutting back on benefits, can the others be far behind?

    The only thing I can think of here is that hotels are being forced to compete with the likes of AirBNB, but what this move actually does is to set them apart much less and make AirBNB properties look like a much better option. I can have a full kitchen, laundry facilities, and generally pay less for more.

    If the strategy is to compete on price, then they are going to also need to lower their room rates rather substantially to make the idea of staying in a hotel at all more appetizing.

    This is just a completely wrong move.

    • Craig Sowerby says

      One thing that you can be sure of is that a receptionist at a hotel has no idea about Hilton’s corporate strategy regarding executive lounges. That said, there are probably very few people who pay for an executive room in the US, compared to the masses of Diamonds who receive it for free. Therefore each hotel is likely to act in its own interests and close down their lounge in order to save some money.

      But, yes, I fully agree that cost-cutting is going to cost Hilton some of their best customers…

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