(Update From Hilton) Here’s Hilton’s Auto-Upgrade Policy Order & Eligible Brands

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Update 11/9/21: We’ve received communication from Hilton regarding how they’ll be implementing the advance upgrades (my bolding):

With space-available upgrades being one of our program’s most important perks, we launched this benefit enhancement to celebrate our Gold and Diamond members.

Hilton Honors elite members are eligible to receive a complimentary upgrade based on a mix of criteria, including their membership status, room inventory at the hotel and length of stay, to name a few. These factors help us award upgrades to make elite members’ stays more meaningful. Gold, Diamond and Lifetime Diamond members are eligible to receive a guaranteed room upgrade 72 hours prior to their arrival based on hotel availability, and member status/tier is the first criteria considered.

Hotels cannot opt out of providing this benefit, which is currently available at the Hilton brands where space-available complimentary upgrades are currently offered as a Hilton Honors member benefit.

As you can see, Hilton is stating that your status/tier is the first criteria considered. That suggests that Loyalty Lobby’s source who said Lifetime Diamond would take priority over Diamond and then Gold might be correct. However, what’s notably different with this update from Hilton is that they’re saying that award stays costing 100,000+ points won’t be taking priority – elite status will be.

Having said that, they did also say that upgrades would be based on a mix of criteria ‘including their membership status, room inventory at the hotel and length of stay, to name a few’. Seeing as that’s not an exhaustive list of criteria, booking a 100,000+ Hilton Honors points stay might still be taken into account when those advance upgrades are processed.

Here’s the original post.

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A few weeks ago Hilton announced that they’d be starting to auto-upgrade members 72 hours in advance of their stay. (See Hilton offering 72hr advance upgrades for elites & shared digital keys).

At the time we didn’t know how that would work, but Loyalty Lobby has provided some more information about the priority order for the upgrades along with which hotel brands will be eligible.

Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa Jordan
Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa, Jordan

Loyalty Lobby’s post confirms that Hilton hasn’t made an official announcement regarding the priority order for upgrades, but it sounds like these details have been sent out to hotels which is how Loyalty Lobby got the heads up.

Based on their post, this is the priority order for upgrades at eligible Hilton properties:

  1. Award stays costing 100,000+ points
  2. Lifetime Diamond members
  3. Diamond members
  4. Gold members

There are a few things that are unclear here. For starters, for 100,000+ point award stays – is that a per-night price or per-stay price?

I’d taken that to mean the total price for an award stay because the top end for standard room award prices at Hilton properties is 95,000 points per night other than one or two properties. The only way to spend 100,000+ points per night is therefore to book a premium room award. It seems strange to me that someone who’s already booking an upgraded room would be the first person in line to get an upgrade. One Mile At A Time seems to have taken it to mean 100,000 points per night, although View From The Wing seems to have interpreted it in the same way that I did in that it’d be 100,000+ points per stay rather than per night.

Another confusing aspect is that under a strict reading of that upgrade priority list someone with no status or Silver status who books an award stay costing 100,000 points or more would be eligible for upgrades over someone with Lifetime Diamond status. Although you wouldn’t expect someone with no Hilton status to accumulate 100,000 points, they frequently go on sale for 0.5cpp and can be transferred from American Express, so it could conceivably happen. Someone with no status or Silver status would normally not get any kind of room upgrade, so it seems strange that they could – in theory – be prioritized for room upgrades over members with much higher status who booked a paid stay. I can’t imagine that’s the way things would be implemented though, so I wouldn’t get your hopes up if you only have Silver status as a result of having Hilton’s no annual fee credit card.

It’s interesting that Hilton seems to value members who book longer and/or more expensive award stays over those who book paid rates. I’m not sure of the thinking behind this, but one of the commenters on View From The Wing’s post suggests that it could be that people might have more incremental stays on award stays; if true, it would make sense that Hilton might want to upgrade them first. Perhaps a nicer room leads to guests wanting to spend more time in that room and results in them being more likely to order room service rather than going out to dinner if they’re already staying for free by using points.

Something else that’s unclear is how members who book Points & Money stays will be prioritized. If award stays costing 100,000+ points get prioritized over paid stays, how does it work if you book a Points & Money stay that’d normally cost 100,000 points but results in fewer redeemed points by adding a cash co-pay. On a similar note, what happens with Points & Money stays where you actually redeem 100,000 points along with some kind of cash co-pay? Would this be regarded as an award stay for higher priority or would it be treated as a lowly paid stay?

Prioritizing Lifetime Diamond members over regular Diamond members and then Gold members makes more sense as they’ve shown a lot of loyalty over the years. Lifetime Diamond members also presumably have a higher net worth on average and so might be more likely to spend more during stays which makes it worth keeping them happy with better upgrades.

Eligible Brands For Auto-Upgrades

The upgrade priority list could be good news or bad news depending on how many points you’ll be redeeming on award stays and/or your status level. What isn’t good news is that these advance upgrades will only be available at the following Hilton brands:

  • Conrad
  • Waldorf Astoria
  • LXR
  • Canopy
  • Hilton
  • Curio Collection
  • Tapestry Collection
  • DoubleTree
  • Signia

While it’s not surprising that all these brands would be eligible for the advance upgrade feature, it’s disappointing that brands like Homewood Suites, Home2 Suites, Embassy Suites, Hampton, etc. aren’t going to be eligible for the feature. While these other brands don’t generally have aspirational room upgrades like you might get at a Waldorf Astoria, it would’ve been nice to know a few days in advance if you were going to get an upgrade to a one bedroom suite at a Homewood Suites or something like that.

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15 Comments
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Frank

In the past year I’ve stayed at 10 hilton properties, all but 2 were domestic. The international hilton’s were flawless, upgraded on both, treated very well with diamond status. Only one of the 8 domestic hiltons was a remarkably good experience. The rest were either a mixed bag or horrible, with staff poorly trained, or just making things up as they go. I know this 72 hour upgrade policy is new and was not a factor in any of my hilton stays of the last year. I share these observations to say that I expect this policy to not go well with domestic hiltons. It really feels like leadership at the top has decided to bleed domestic hiltons of their value. Maybe from their standpoint, domestic occupany is off the charts, staffing minimal, rates as high as ever, so there is no motivation to provide quality service.

Rick B

Except I am a Hyatt loyalty program member too, and can just switch all my business to Hyatt… if there is no advantage to being Diamond with Hilton.

Cory Mason

Working for Hilton I can tell you that is not truth at all

HGA

I booked at the Quito Hilton several months ago. I arrive tomorrow. When I go into the app all upgrades cost money. Is this supposed to be working already?

V. James

What about using free night certes? I just booked with these which is equivalent to 141,000 points (but I didn’t actually use points). How does that factor in?

Reno Joe

Purportedly, Hilton corporate is monitoring room inventory and pulls the trigger . . . not the property itself.

On the surface, this sounds like corporate taking the upgrade decision (and the denial thereof) from the property owners and upholding the benefits of elite members.

Don’t kid yourselves.

The property owners still control what’s in that inventory. We all should have seen story after story about how property owners being allowed to “manage” award inventory. If there’s no award inventory, then there’s no upgrade for an award stay. We’ve seen articles about properties in each network without award inventory for a year.

But, it gets better.

Property owners are now pulling their entire suite inventory from the networks — making it unavailable to network members — in essence, we only have standard rooms available to all network members — and are marketing suite inventory via AirBnB. If there’s no suite inventory in the first place, then there’s nothing to upgrade to.

Please see the article on View From The Wing.

Wise up. These hotel loyalty programs are shams.

Mark

Who does the upgrading, Hilton or the hotel? The hotel, right? But the hotel doesn’t know how many points you spent. Maybe Hilton will provide some sort of list to the hotel.

Chris

Wondering too about the 100k points. Staying at signa bonette creek in Florida. Guess I will see what advanced upgrade we get.

A B

Yeah I’m confused about the 100k thing too, as it elevates any award guest staying 2 nights at a 50k+ ppn room over the lifetime diamonds. Makes no sense. However as a lowly gold member planning a 3 night award stay at a Tapestry, I’m hopeful.

Kimo

Not understanding the article. Homewood Suites are an all-suites hotel why would you require an upgrade to a suite if all the rooms are suites?? Most limited brands or hotels like embassy suites build all rooms the same so any upgrade is useless.

Kawa Lau

Yup, I got upgraded from a 1 bedroom to a 2 once at Homewood. It was nice since we had 4 adults and 2 kids. Having the 1 bedroom with a sofa bed in the living room would work, but having a second bedroom with a second bath made the stay so much better.

Last edited 23 days ago by Kawa Lau
Mason

Staying at an all inclusive over new years in PV for four nights. (Points and FN) . Then under P2 the conrad for two nights down there (95k plus FN). Hoping for the the best with gold status.