Rate Hilton HHonors

Discussion in 'Hilton | HHonors' started by Lynda, Aug 7, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. Lynda
    Original Member

    Lynda Milepoint Staff

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    InsideFlyer magazine is reviewing Hilton HHonors in our September 2014 issue and would like your input.

    If you would like to participate, please post your response in this thread with the pros and cons of membership in Hilton HHonors and grade the program from A to F (A being the highest grade). You can include a plus or minus with the rating.

    You can also respond directly to the editors at InsideFlyer at lynda@insideflyer.com if you would prefer.

    Thank you! You can see the completed review at InsideFlyer.com or on our BLOG in September.
     
  2. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    I'd have to rate them a B-. On the positive side, they do treat elites well, it's not hard to reach Gold (through credit cards or other promotions), they have numerous point-earning opportunities, and their "cash plus points" rates are frequently a real bargain! On the negative side, the recent devaluation of points leaves them worth only about 0.35 cents per point, and unlike Starwood and Marriott there is no "lifetime" status for long-term patrons.
     
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  3. Terry Yap

    Terry Yap Gold Member

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    I think its a B for me. It's good value for Hilton Gold (to me the best mid-tier status benefits) for booked stays, but points earning for future stays are not attractive after the devaluation.
     
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  4. DTWBOB

    DTWBOB Silver Member

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    What other chain gives it's Golds (and above) a free breakfast at certain locations (not counting Hamptons, Fairfields, Holiday Inn Expresses where you get it anyway).

    For us that's a deal breaker !

    DTWBOB
     
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  5. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

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    This is posted in the Hilton forum area so I think the results will be inaccurate as most people (on average) spending much time here are going to be Hilton fans (at some level) already. That being said I would rate them a C. Why simple. I can stay anywhere I want on business that cost less than $300 a night. I value the many Hilton locations but my preference is IHG then Marriott and then Hilton then others so to me if it's the third choice that would be a "C". (Wyndham does that make you a F or an M or something :)

    Seriously. Hiltons are great but the reward program is so devalued they might want to just kill it off and provide better benefits for frequent guests based on number of stays per year. Also if you stay at some of the lower end Hampton level properties (which are really nice usually). Hilton doesn't even give you the same number of points per $ which is an insult. I guess I'm after award nights when I pick a property. I am willing to stay anywhere on business that will provide enough reward points so that I can take vacation trips and reward myself, friends and family in return for all that time away on business.
     
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  6. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Ratings are generally based on some sort of set of criteria. Just throwing out a letter makes little sense to me and won't result in a meaningful overall score when you aggregate random scores from random people based on random unspecified criteria. So I won't offer a rating.

    As for free breakfast, it's ultimately included in the room rate. Non-elites effectively pay more than they otherwise might. Other chains perhaps offer other benefits. I do like "free" breakfasts at times, but I have often stayed at non-Hiltons where I could get an excellent local breakfast at a nearby bakery or restaurant for a few bucks. I remember staying at a Holiday Inn in downtown Duesseldorf a couple of years ago. The buffet breakfast (not "free" for Plats) was about 20 Euros, and there were three or four bakeries within a couple of blocks where I got a sit-down breakfast (two rolls, egg, jam, cheese, ham, coffee) for 5 Euros. And got to observe the locals on their way to work or meeting their neighbors for coffee instead of listening to some important business travelers yapping into their cellphones while chewing on bacon. As a gold I could have stayed at the Hilton for the free breakfast, but the location would have been less convenient and the room rate was significantly higher.
     
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  7. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    The purported "devaluation" that happened at Hilton was no worse than that which happened at the other major programs around the same time. Hilton simply went first and got a lot of flak, but "devaluation" might even have been worse elsewhere than at Hilton. To put it bluntly, none of the claims about how "devaluation" was worse at Hilton -- expected to be stated and then echoed again and again in a thread titled like this one -- have a basis in reality or in quantitative analysis. It is simply the "herd mentality of forums": something is stated once and then it is repeated again and again and again until it becomes an established dogma, even though it is totally bogus. In the real world, based on quantitative analysis of real data, only about 3% (the very top end) of 3,900 HHonors properties were made unaffordable by the purported HHonors 'devaluation'. Meaning that "devaluation" should not have affected many people, except for those who wanted to redeem at places like Conrad Koh Samui (always a use of points of questionable "value"). Lastly, I showed recently through number crunching, with examples of realistic earnings/redemptions, that HHonors and Hyatt GP have about the same value as assessed in terms of earning and redeeming points, while SPG is about 2.5 times more expensive, and that is after taking "devaluation" into account.

    The funny thing is that the purported "devaluation" of HHonors points was supposed to "kill" the HHonors program. What one sees or feels, instead, is a vibrant, re-energized, rejuvenated, and more rewarding program (I have been upgraded to a suite on 100% of stays this year; have easily accumulated 700,000 points after depleting the bank last year; and easily requalified for Diamond on base points in early July). I am afraid that the last "devaluation" was so successful that Hilton might be thinking about doing it again...:D

    I rate HHonors A+ for how I have generally been treated as a Diamond and for its many great features. Specifically:
    1. Unlimited suite upgrades (depending on availability), including on reward stays (the latter is really special and may be unique).
    2. Ease of making Diamond status because it is the only major program that allows elite qualification on base points, in addition to the usual number of stays/nights metric.
    3. Ease of earning loads of points with a formula that includes a generous elite bonus, CC spend bonus and 'double dipping', coupled with ease of redemption and very competitive redemption rates.
    4. With more than 3,900 properties, it is fairly easy to redeem for reward stays or to find HHonors properties even in some very small and remote places throughout the US and the world.
    5. Some of the best elite perks in the business [executive lounge access, free breakfast, free internet, late check out,...], even for second tier elites.
    6. Much, much more if one knows how to play the game...;)

    Only Minuses:
    1. Elite recognition and the awarding of perks at HH properties in the US is highly inconsistent and generally sucks!
    2. As @Counsellor put it: "and unlike Starwood and Marriott there is no "lifetime" status for long-term patrons."
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014
  8. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    Well Marriott for one.

    Courtyards in the US are an exception which I hope they will remedy, but you did say "certain locations."
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
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  9. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    I'm afraid we'll have to agree to disagree on that. By my calculations (in my case) the changes to category, the "floating" award rates (that always seem to be at the high end of the scale when I'm there), and some of the absolutely outrageous redemption requirements for 100,000 or more HHonors points per night on nice (but not "aspirational") properties, e.g., London Hilton on Park Lane at 252,904 HHonors points per night a few weeks from now -- or £ 279 per night in cash for the same room -- would equate to a value of well under a fifth of a cent a point. Definitely no longer competitive.

    (The HHonors site says that to stay there for 5 nights on points I would have to buy 901,947 additional points for $21,006.73 . . . in order to avoid paying $2,375 in cash. Such a deal.)
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
  10. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    No, we do not need to agree to disagree because this is something that can be estimated fairly well numerically. That some properties, like Hilton London on Park Lane, were made unaffordable is not in question but this is not limited to Hilton! All the programs, Hyatt being the latest, did it and then introduced the Cash+Points option as the only way to afford those very top Cat properties. So, I suggest you review the assumptions that go into your calculations because they paint an incomplete and, therefore, erroneous picture. Below is why...

    Last night I found a blog entry by Scott Mackenzie at Hack My Trip blog, which not only nicely illustrated the misconception about the HHonors "devaluation" being the more severe among the major hotel loyalty programs, but also provided a remarkably close confirmation of my own recent analysis that failed to find any evidence that the HHonors "devaluation" is as outrageous as is generally claimed (even by Mackenzie himself!). The nice thing about Mackenzie's analysis are the charts, which I hope will cut and paste well in the quoted text below:
    All you need to do is to look at the two charts. The top chart is how people had perceived and continue to perceive that awful HHonors "devaluation". It is clear that the number of points required for a free night was increased dramatically by Hilton for about a mere 3% of their 3,900+ properties. The top chart shows that to be clearly the case. However, that chart does not take into account the fact that one also earns a lot more points per spend under the HHonors system. Therefore, the comparison in the top chart that shows HHonors requiring a lot more points per free night is meaningless, as is the notion of the devastating HHonors "devaluation" that we've heard about ad nauseam. One has to do some kind of "normalization" across the programs to be able to compare them directly and more meaningfully. That is precisely what Mackenzie did to produce the bottom chart that shows "Spend per Free Night (call it SPFN)" for each program. Although the analysis was carried out by ignoring things like elite, CC and program specific bonuses -- such bonuses would, in fact, favor HHonors because their bonuses are quite generous -- the picture is clear: Hilton, Marriott and IHG SPFN numbers are virtually the same, and, importantly, these SPFN numbers do incorporate the "devaluation" that had already taken place at the three programs. Hyatt appears low (the mean SPFN is about the same as for the other three, however) but Mackenzie's analysis was done before Hyatt's devaluation. If one incorporates the 37% jump in the redemption rates for the new Cat 7 Hyatt hotels, their numbers would match or even slightly exceed those of Hilton, Marriott and IHG. The worst program in the mix in terms of SPFN is SPG and this is clearly and remarkably consistent with my own analysis of HH vs GP vs SPG done more recently and independently, and took into account elite bonus.

    Like I said from the git-go, the purported devastating "devaluation" of HHonors points was and remains a myth...

    **Post has been cleaned up.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2015
  11. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    But the point is that I am NOT just the average person walking off the street into a hotel looking to get free stays "the next trip". I had been a long time patron, and my points were suddenly devalued in what they would buy by about 50%. I expect some devaluation over time, but not this extreme. The fact that IF I wanted to start all over, and IF I were willing to believe that Hilton would not screw me again, I MIGHT do as well staying at Hilton as I would at a chain that actually values my patronage really doesn't comfort me much.

    Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me for giving you the opportunity the second time.

    However, YMMV, so what works for me may not work for you, and vice-versa.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
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  12. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Nothing in your post is relevant to my initial objection. Your beef should be with ALL the programs and not just with HHonors. How so? Independent calculations have clearly shown that all the major loyalty programs -- except for SPG which is an "outlier" in a bad way -- had "devalued" their points to about the same extent (see Mackenzie's second chart which makes the point visually very clear ). Why then single out HHonors for a B- rating based on "devaluation" when all the programs had devalued their points to same extent? Isn't "devaluation" as a rating factor clearly a wash?

    Bottom line: Your poor rating of HHonors is based on a myth and your gripe about how points buy you much less after D-Day should be with all the programs' highest category hotels and not just with HHonors. There is no YMMV about that.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
  13. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    I really don't want to get into an argument with you. I'm talking about my own personal situation and my own personal accounts, and I know very painfully how much value they've lost. These are NOT hypothetical mathematical exercises -- they're real life, and they HURT.

    You say you can prove that "all programs devalued their points to the same extent." Perhaps you can, hypothetically, but neither my Marriott account nor my Starwood account lost anywhere near the value that my HHonors account did. And that's the factual case no matter how many hypotheticals you can posit.

    (I remember an old saying from my college classroom days, "In theory, theory and practice are the same; in practice, they're not.")
     
  14. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    By the way, that is where the erroneous perception that the HHonors "devaluation" was nothing short of cataclysmic had started. The points were devalued by 50% for how many HHonors properties? There are solid data available on that: about 0.25% if counting only the new category 10 with out-of-this-world rates and just 1.4% if counting categories 9 and 10. What properties are we talking about? Conrad Koh Samui (Cat 10) or most W=As (Cat 9). How often did you redeem for such properties before "devaluation"? Overall, about 9% of 3900+ HHonors properties are currently in categories 7-10. The sky did not fall on D-Day. Folks were complaining about properties that they could not even afford before they were made more unaffordable!
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
  15. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    See my previous post. It HURTS because through the "herd mentality of forums" you were made to believe that it should HURT. It should not hurt that much because things were not as bad as they appeared or they made you believe (see first chart in the "Mackenzie Report"). If you really want to know why your pain is imaginary, then start reading about here and go all the way to the bottom of the thread. Here's an excerpt from that thread:

    Sorry, but I do not feel your pain.

    G'day!
     
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  16. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    BTW, why had Hilton London Park Lane asked for 252,904 points/night when the redemption charts go only up to 95,000/night? It is not a trick question. The charts are exclusively for standard room redemption. Some select properties do not have standard rooms or they may not be any available for redeeming. If the C+P option is not available at such properties, they will be unaffordable, so one must look elsewhere in the Hilton 3.9K portfolio and not blame it on "devaluation". That is quite likely why the rate was so high at London Park Lane: no standard room availability, as defined by each property and not by Hilton Worldwide.
     
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  17. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    I really don't know why I bother. I keep telling you that I'm talking facts, not hypotheticals.

    But, a couple observations:

    You seem to feel anything other than a cat 8, 9, or 10 hasn't increased appreciably. You may be right in many cases, but you're wrong when it comes to where I stay. I haven't pulled up the old data on categories and am relying on memory, but I think I'm right on these:

    Right now I'm looking at London, two people, 14 - 19 August. Here are a few examples:

    London Hotel Islington, category 6, used to be 40K per night, now 98,587 HHonors points per night;
    Doubletree Hyde Park, category 6, used to be 40K per night, now 93,870 HHonors points per night;
    London Olympia, category 6, used to be 40K per night, now 82,077 HHonors points per night;
    Dartford Bridge, category 5, use to be 35K per night, now 87,333 HHonors points per night.

    In each of those cases, after devaluation it takes MORE THAN TWICE as many HHonors points.

    Or let's take Munich, a city I travel to often. Hilton has only two properties there, the City and the Park. Both were raised from Category 6 (as I recall) to Category 8. At cat 6 you could get 5 nights for 160,000 HHonors points total, or 32K per night. For the 5-day period in question (not over Oktoberfest or anything like that) it now costs 122,282 HHonors points per night, nearly FOUR TIMES as much.

    These are examples. I suppose you can come up with a Hampton Inn in East Boondocks, KY, where the price has not gone up, but that doesn't help me a bit in Munich or London.
     
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  18. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

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    I'm sorry but I very respectfully disagree as well. I sure they are still fine for you however as a high level elite off and on with Hilton, Marriott and IHG there is not a true comparison. Just ask the average hotel points collector if they want 500,000 HH, Marriott or IHG points. Which do you think they would choose if they had status at each. This doesn't even include all the other great programs like SPG. I'm sure my needs may vary from other folks however.
     
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  19. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Did the rates go up? Sure, they did! But the increases were no worse than at Hyatt (try redeeming at Hyatt Paris Vendome) or SPG or Marriott! Importantly, however, you are only looking at the redemption or output side of the equation. One also has to look at the input or point earning side. Doing that, you will see that it is a lot easier now to earn points everywhere than it was back when the old rates first went into effect (for instance, there was no HHonors AMEX Surpass that awarded 12 points/$). For a HH Diamond, the points earned per $X spent are:

    $X * 10 (base) + $X * 12 (CC, including taxes) + $X * 5 (elite bonus) + $X * 5 (double-dipping) = $X * 32 (even better than Club Carlson!).

    Now you throw in the great promos that Hilton has had every Q so far (double or triple base points) and the devaluation at HHonors does not exist at all. In the past, if I earned 350,000 points/year, I considered that a great year. But now, for the second year in a row, I just topped 700,000 points (I had ~10K points left in the bank after redeeming nearly 700K points at the end of last year):

    2014HH-Points.jpg

    In sum, the rates have gone up by up 50% at some properties, but so has the ability to earn points (up to 50% for those who know how to play the game). I could easily reach 1000,000 points this year since there are 4 more months left, but I do not intend to redeem stays at any Cat 9 or 10 HHonors properties. So I have purposely decided to start putting points into the other programs in which I have status to increase flexibility (e.g., there are places with no Hilton presence but have Hyatt or Marriott; on purpose I have not put much into SPG).

    I hope this makes better sense, but you are convolving a couple of issues: (1) did the rates go up with "devaluation"? Yes; (2) was the "devaluation" worse at Hilton (the initial point)? No! At the same time you fail to see the whole picture, because you leave out the earning side. My analysis and MacKenzie's try to account for differences in point earning between the programs, and when one does that, the differences in spend per free night are quite small, except for SPG, which remains quite high.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
  20. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    You can disagree all you want; that will not change the real picture even if it does not change the one that is ingrained in your psyche. The numbers do not lie and what they say is that the notion that the HHonors devaluation was the worst among the major hotel loyalty programs is a myth.

    G'day!
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
  21. Photonerd71

    Photonerd71 Silver Member

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    I don't even know why you try dude. You have gone over this countless times (along with the sky isn't falling at UA) and they will only believe things they want to hear. I say let them all go, that is just that many more upgrades for the rest of us. :)

    Sent using a small piece of fruit.
     
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  22. blackjack-21

    blackjack-21 Gold Member

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    Since I'm also mentioned in the "herd mentality" comments of NYCUA1K's links to the devaluation thread, let me chime in with my rating for HHonors at this point too.

    For many years (member since 1992) I've considered Hilton and the HHonors program to be better then most of the others, with more perks, including upgrades, breakfasts, etc., available to their mid to upper elites, then most of the other larger chains. This was because of their ease of earning and burning possibilities, and in my case, not being in the U.S., still many relatively easy ways to maintain my gold status over time, even without their CC help to do so. For that reason, and if the question were to be asked a few years ago, I'd probably have rated Hilton Honors an A or A-.

    Over time however, I've seen the ease of earning, and also using my HHonors points, slowly dissipate, and at least for me, made harder now to maintain my gold status each year by their changing the goalposts along the way. Yes, they still have bonuses and decent offers, but they've also added higher reward rates for many properties too (even varying by month to month), so in effect, yes they have devalued their program in my eyes, and their "non-participating properties" list seems to grow longer each time it comes out with the new quarters' bonus offers, thus taking away further opportunities for points accumulation, so it's a wash in many instances.

    While I can't fault Hilton for tightening up their program, as many newcomers, some only getting their points from CC's, bring added pressures on the availability of reward rooms for those who have paid for their stays and gotten HHonors points for so many years, packed Exec. Lounges, and higher room rates, still when we see the outcry from so many about the devaluations and qualification tightening that's happened in recent years, myself included, it's hard for me to give HHonors more then a B-. Still a fan of Hilton's properties in general, although not of DT's because of their inconsistencies, and we've never stayed at a Homewood, but overall, Hilton's properties have met or exceeded our expectations in most cases, and over many stays. And in fairness to other chains which we now can't compare for our stays and their programs, because my wife and I are both cigarette smokers, we're limited to Hilton for the majority of our trip planning, as Marriott is totally non, Hyatt has only a few properties that still have smoker's rooms, as does IHG, and SPG only has Four Points with some smoking room availability.

    So Hilton, and HHonors remains our hotel chain of choice, even with them dropping to a B- rating in our estimation, and that is most definately UNquantitatively speaking, because our $$ and ever shrinking point values carry more weight in our eyes then any surveys, formulas, or similar statistics.

    Besides, the only resemblance between Mr. Einstein and me, is on some mornings when I'm just barely awake and start to shave, the person glancing back at me in the mirror looks strikingly similar to Albert E., with the thinning hair going in all directions, but sans his mustache. And while his quantitive analysis is very impressive, still I'm better at math then he ever was, or so I'm told.

    So it's a B- for HHonors, also because we can no longer get our measly 500 HHonors points just for updating our email addresses each quarter (remember that?), which also served to keep my wife's account active for many years.
     
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  23. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

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    On a valuation subject like this it's all relative to where you like to say and where you see value. For example I stay at a ton of mid level hotels. HIX, Fairfields, Hampton type level. So there is little value in things like free breakfast for being a Gold member. For me the value is getting a clean, functional hotel room at a location I need. For example my favorite hotel in this range is Hyatt Place but I hardly stay there because they just never seen to have a location where I need one. That's on me and my situation. I have gotten to the point where I prefer the IHG chain because from all those road warrior stays, meeting rooms booked, etc. I want to use my points with my family when I travel for nicer properties. In that range I prefer Intercontinental. Why? Because they always seem to have a property I like where I need or want them and in comparison to other chains it just works out well. That being said I still stay at a few Hilton properties but they have dropped to a C for me or less because the points that I have or earn went down in value compared to my IHG and Marriott points. I also find it easier to earn those points than Hilton. If I have a choice between a Hampton and Holiday Inn Express who wins? HIX most of the time because Hilton won't even give me full points per $1 at Hampton most of the time. So it's just a preference. I could easier pick and chose certain properties or situation and prove the argument for or against but that's not the point. For me Hilton isn't as good as it used to be compared to the others for "me". Others will disagree and apparently many agree. I do think there is some sky is falling mentality out there but some of it is based in truth imho.
     
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  24. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    You need to realize that different people are in different situations. The 12x HHonors earnings with Surpass isn't available to everyone. Take non-US HHonors members, for example, who pay the same award rates but don't have the earnings potential you claim makes up for the devaluation.

    Or take me, US-based HHonors member: Even if I had someone else pay for my Hilton stays (business trips) like you seem to have for your conferences, I still wouldn't be able to use my HHonors Amex because my employer requires use of the corporate Amex card for business expenses.

    But as I said earlier, there is no point in even asking people to assign a grade to HHonors without providing criteria to measure the program's performance. You rate it A+, someone else rates it F. Awesome.

    The whole thread is meaningless and only suitable to rehash old discussions .
     
  25. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    The folks without the AMEX would be playing the game poorly equipped, devaluation or not. So, your point is not valid. Even more germane is that Mcenkenzie's analysis was done under the following assumption , and I quote: “The next thing I did was adjust the chart in terms of dollars spent. I ignored any elite status bonus. I ignored points earned through credit card spend. This chart just says,If an average person walks into a hotel, how much will he have to spend to earn a free night on his next trip?” No bonuses of any kind were included. My own analysis took this just one step further and included only the bonus that any elite would get based on T&C. Therefore, both analyses did automatically take your objection into account. On the other hand, the flip side of your objection, which should be quite intuitive but I will do the math if you wish, is this: If we assume that we are all top elites who are set up to earn the maximum number of points per spend in our respective program, HHonors Diamond would be shown to have the lowest spend per free night among the elites of all the programs, including Club Carlson, after "devaluation."

    The short of it is that while the simplified math and assumptions make the point, they do disenfranchise HHonors. If we do things more rigorously, HHonors top elites' spend per free night would be the lowest of all the elites, i.e., no "devaluation", so Q.E.D.;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014

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