Hilton DisHonors: More Than 75% Of Hilton Properties Worldwide Don’t Have To Offer Upgrades

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Did you know that the Hilton Honors terms and conditions state that more than three-quarters of their properties worldwide don’t offer complimentary room upgrades for those with status?

Homewood Suites Hilton Living Room Bedroom Kitchen Thumbs Down
Don’t count on getting an upgrade to a one bedroom suite at a Homewood Suites property

I didn’t realize Hilton had this policy until yesterday when Lan commented on this post to advise that. Here’s what they shared:

I’m a longtime Hilton Diamond. My wife and I like all the Hilton brands but typically stay most frequently at mid-tier chains including Hampton Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites and Embassy Suites. In the official Hilton website, those are among the Hilton brands that as corporate policy apparently no longer offer upgrades, if space is available, even for elite members. This is a fairly recent and very significant DOWNGRADE to the entire Hilton Honors program.

We did recently stay at a Hampton Inn & Suites, asked for an upgrade and were told by the front desk person on duty we would have to pay for any upgrade at regular rates. He said that the change to “no upgrades for elite Honors members” was corporate-wide and not this particular property’s policy. Because my wife wanted an ocean-view room we did pay about $40 extra for the room location, a regular room, not a suite.

When I received the standard Hilton survey following the stay I responded in part by criticizing the policy and said I thought this showed Hilton in some cases no longer valued its Diamond members.

A few days later I received a “Hilton case incident opened” email message, and today I received $40 credit on my Amex.

I’m unclear whether because individual property operators control their own inventory that some Hampton, Embassy and Garden Inn operators still offer Diamond and Gold members a space-available upgrade, or if that is now rarely if ever done. What has been your experience?

That sounded strange, but sure enough – Hilton’s terms and conditions include the following statement:

The following brands do not offer complimentary upgrades: Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton by Hilton, Tru by Hilton, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton, Hilton Grand Vacations, and Motto by Hilton.

It turns out that this isn’t a particularly new change. When checking the Wayback Machine that sentence has been in their terms and conditions since at least December 14, 2020 (there aren’t any earlier records to be able to check).

This seems like an absurd policy to have. If Family Feud was to ask 100 people what benefit they most associate with hotel elite status, I’d assume that the number one answer would be ‘room upgrades’. Stating that guests with elite status won’t get a room upgrade at many of your properties is a ridiculously customer-unfriendly proposition.

It’s not like the terms have some kind of caveat either like ‘Room upgrades are subject to availability and/or property discretion’. It simply states that those Hilton brands don’t offer complimentary upgrades.

It seems like Hilton Corporate has been actively advising properties not to offer room upgrades which makes matters even worse. I sent Greg, Nick and Tim an email to see if any of them had encountered this policy before and this is what Tim shared:

We had this happen once last year at the Hampton Inn Outer Banks/Corolla. There were suites available and when I asked for one at check-in, there was quite a bit of hemming and hawing and the supervisor came over to tell me that they “received a letter a few weeks ago” saying that there were no more complimentary upgrades at Hampton Inns. Said it was at the direction of corporate. She then said that they still had discretion to upgrade but only in specific situations and then caught herself after I asked her what those situations were. I assumed it was just a local property trying to get out of elite upgrades. When I followed up with Twitter team they said that they didn’t know anything about it.

Hampton Inn & Suites Hilton Honors Hotel Sign Logo
Hampton: one of the Hilton brands that won’t Honor(s) status by offering a complimentary room upgrade

How Many Hilton Properties Don’t Offer Upgrades?

Based on the ineligible brands, my initial assumption was that this would affect about 2/3 of properties. Curious as to exactly how many, I did a little research to identify how many properties Hilton has worldwide along with how many properties are affected by this policy to not upgrade Hilton Honors members who have elite status with them.

It turns out that it’s even worse than 2/3. In fact, it’s even worse than 3/4.

The figures below won’t be entirely accurate seeing as new properties are being added all the time, while some existing hotels will have converted to other brands or moved to other chains. Still, the numbers will be broadly accurate and so give a good idea as to how many locations are affected:

  • Embassy Suites – 257
  • Hilton Garden Inn – 862
  • Hampton – 2,544
  • Tru – 178
  • Homewood Suites – 505
  • Home2 Suites – 384
  • Hilton Grand Vacations – 55
  • Motto – 3

That’s a total of 4,788 properties worldwide. Hilton has 6,215 properties overall which means that 77% of Hilton properties worldwide don’t offer complimentary room upgrades for members with elite status.

I’m sure there’ll be people who scoff at this, wondering why you’d be worried about room upgrades at a Hampton. However, the base room at many of these brands is a studio but they have one bedroom suites you can be upgraded to. Even Embassy Suites properties where each suite has two rooms have what would otherwise be upgradeable premium room types that include free drinks and snacks which are supposed to get replenished every day.

What’s particularly galling to me is that that lone sentence in the terms and conditions seems to be the only place where they disclose that more than 3/4 of their properties won’t give you an upgrade. For example, on the member benefits page it lists one of the Gold status benefits as follows (my bolding):

Space-available room upgrades. If we have a better room available, it’s yours – up to Executive Floor room types.

There’s something similar listed for members with Diamond status (again, my bolding):

Space-available room upgrades. If we have a better room available, it’s yours – up to a 1-bedroom suite.

‘If we have a better room available it’s yours’ – unless you stay at one of our almost 5,000 properties where it’s not.

Hilton sadly seems to be going the route of IHG by making their loyalty program less rewarding for, y’know, loyalty. Rather than offering free breakfast for Gold and Diamond members for stays in the US, you now receive a food and beverage credit which is oftentimes insufficient to cover the cost of breakfast at the brands for which it’s valid.

That breakfast policy offers a downgraded experience for many members at Hilton’s premium brands, while this lack of room upgrades represents a downgraded experience for members at pretty much all of the rest of their brands. I’ll still be collecting their points as they’re so relatively easy to rack up, but it certainly lessens my interest in sending any paid stays their way. Why show Hilton any loyalty when they refuse to offer something so basic as a room upgrade to someone with Gold or Diamond status at more than 3/4 of their properties worldwide?

Hilton Honors? More like Hilton DisHonors.

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[…] terms don’t require 75% of its hotels to offer upgrades, I have no doubt reader DCS will comment that of course they are allowed to offer them and somehow […]

Rick wilson

Another example of cheap Chris at work. The guy doesn’t comp the staff that cleans his bathroom, make his bed ect ect…… the company lost 750 million and he gets a 26 million compensation increase….who is on the board approving this??????

HGA

When you stay in a US property by yourself, list two guests in reservation so that you earn a double breakfast credit. Many times I use a couple of bucks only and leave the rest as a tip. That way they have to pay it out as cash. At EWR Hilton I bought a latte and gave the girl approx. $25 for tip. Since last year I only stay at their properties abroad where bkfst is still included.

Bonny Stewart

I have been a Hilton Grand Vacation Club Member Elite Status for Yrs.I also have a Hilton Honors American Express Card I use to collect points..I recently saw a offer if you spend so much money by this date they would offer you a free weekend night stay at a Hilton..So the cut off date on the credit card was on that particular day..I paid off a large bill and made sure the company charged my card that day so I could receive my free night stay..Everything went threw on that day..I thought I had made the deadline.. I called Hilton Honors to book my free night and they tell me I did not qualify because it takes them 2 additional days to process the payment..Even though the reward was to spend this amount of money on your card by a certain date… This was a total ripoff..of not Honoring there reward program …. Like I said I have been a loy owner and user of Hilton .. They have become a company with no integrity what so ever.. I now will be using other Credit Card companies…and soon selling off my time shares I own because they are dishonest and donot honor there customers ..

Mikey

Burned all my Hilton points last year. I’m done with them. This definitely seals the deal. How disgusting!

Rick wilson

I’m done with Motel Hilton 6…..

Tom

I think you are right. it’s time to burn the points and move on to another chain. This is shocking because I thot diamond was always upgraded to the best available room

LiLe

I’m new to Hilton Am Ex and one of the reasons I signed up was the possibility of room upgrades, like you stated in the article, I just saw that for gold weeks ago. Really annoying to find out now Hiltons is not honoring this.

TWIYJades

You would assume 100 Family Feud contestant’s #1 elite hotel perk would be upgrades?! You were never poor. Normal people don’t even know that exists. Room service would be #1. Just a hotel that has it, and being able to use it.

Judith Geystan

Hilton don’t even clean your room anymore if you don’t stay 3-5 days and you are an Honors Member!!!

Billy Bob

The getting your rooms cleaned daily thing went with COVID and is gone forever.

Kevin k

Hell i have been able to get ONE in over 15 years!! I had to beg the guy at front desk in omaha!

Scott Ready

Also Diamond members are supposed to get a room as long as they give the hotel a 48 hour notice. Even if it’s sold out. At least that’s what they advertise. I must have called half a dozen that were sold out looking for a room the next week. Not one of them knew what I was talking about and said they don’t do that. False advertising.

Michael Eddy

I have never received a upgrade from Hilton properties and stayed 20 nights every time I ask we where denied..I just switched over to Marriott to try there program..lm a Diamond Member a long time I really feel that Hilton brand does not care about American Express card holders..

Morgan Taylor

You will get it with Marriott. I am an elite member with both and I use Marriott far more frequently and always get a complimentary upgrade.

Bryan

Just book the room you actually want. So sad if u don’t. actually, I could care less. Again, stop being cheap and book the room you want.

Morgan Taylor

It’s not being cheap. Perhaps you don’t understand what loyalty and status mean. Many of us have credit cards that are attached to these hotel brands and frequent them spending thousands of dollars. For that continued loyalty these hotels should honor their own program guidelines. It’s the reason we book directly with them, use their cards instead of simply booking through Priceline

Billy Bob

Are you lost? Look around. You are reading a points and miles blog.

George

Been the case for a long time, but you’d often get an upgrade at check-in regardless. As a Gold member, I got upgraded to a suite at a Hampton in late 2020… not sure if their systems were coded wrong and asked them to upgrade us even though it was a Hampton, or if the front desk agent just decided to be extra nice. If it’s the former, I doubt that will continue, since they’re now automating upgrades (I’m sure THAT system is coded properly).

VIS

Looks like the 3 day before arrival upgrade is out the window real fast.

Coco

You’re mad about upgrades…the real kick in the teeth is no more complimentary breakfasts..as a diamond member or gold. Which, from working at a hotel I can tell you is what most folks in the tier are mad about..For some it’s the difference in what and when their children eat that morning.
Barely anyone asks for upgrades..but they will hold a conference at the front desk for free food and or coffee…not really fair to include any hilton property with “suite” in their name those rooms are usually all the same at those brands and not quite sure what an upgrade could be maybe the view??

Morgan Taylor

You would be surprised. Some of those suites not only come with views but balconies or two bedrooms. Many of these brands have also discounted their lounges which is a real bummer.

Reno Joe

What is the least we have to give these suckers to keep them hooked? Until our revenue needle moves, we know they’re still hooked. So, let’s take away another benefit . . . and another . . . and another. Look, the revenue needle is STILL not moving.

Ryan del Mundo

Over 200 paid nights and not one suite upgrade at a Hilton, as well as 100 “points” nights without ever getting a suite, all while Diamond. Meanwhile, I get a pretty posh upgrade at Marriott every time with my Titanium status, including the $1200/nt three villa compound with private pool in Phuket for Thanksgiving at the JW (paid cash price for a single room was $80), but don’t have nearly as many Marriott points because they’re harder to earn. Guess win some lose some. But yeah, Hilton sure is stingy!

Last edited 3 months ago by Ryan del Mundo
Mary Ann Adams

Perhaps COVID hurt everything so much that besides not finding enough staffing help, Hilton would rather save by taking away perks such as upgrades and breakfast.

Morgan Taylor

Hilton is one of the largest brands alongside Marriott which is their biggest competitor. You can’t use Covid for everything. It appears the bean counters are deciding some perks that only cost the hotel this will be the perfect time to do away with those benefits that built the loyalty in the first place. Since Covid so have traveled across the country multiple times and receive the worse tier benefits at Hilton versus Marriott. Both are undergoing Covid related issues but only one seems to be dropping the ball!

Retired Gambler

Moot point! No hotel (at least outside of MAYBE Hyatt) is ever required to give you an upgrade (unless you used something like a Marriott Suite Upgrade and it was confirmed in advance). All a property has to do is say they reasonably expect to sell those rooms and you aren’t getting it. Just like airlines are selling more upgrades at low cost to monitize them instead of offering them free to elites, hotels are likewise making money on suites and upgraded rooms. Even if inventory shows they are available they are held since the front desk clerk could offer to upgrade guests checking in later for a nominal fee.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t like it as a Marriott Titanium and Hilton Diamond member but that is the way it is.

Reno Joe

Technically, the terms and conditions say “if available at check-in” as opposed to “we haven’t sold it but we think we might.” But, then, the terms and conditions say — seemingly regarding any elite benefit — subject to the discretion of the property. So, if the property says “in our discretion, we’re simply not going to give you your benefits,” one is left asking — as many have started — what is this loyalty program worth then? The points. Oh, but then there’s the award inventory management and one can’t even redeem at the property one wants. The programs promote sexy benefits but the terms and conditions provide the property owners every opportunity to not deliver those benefits . . . even on points. Anyone who continues to play the hotel loyalty program game deserves what they get.

Kevin "travels to much" Davis

Seems this is what i have been up against in vegas a few weeks backs and now Chicago. I keep getting emails about buying upgrades. Even had the I can buy the suite you say is unavailable for my stay conversation.

Done with Hilton 20 plus year Diamond member.

See yeah….

Reno Joe

Yes, it’s Hilton. And, it’s Marriott. And, it’s Hyatt. By the way, the casino hotels pull the same stuff. It is an industry-wide practice.

Now, imagine having a confirmed booking for a cash stay in a suite . . . then the front desk says that they are putting you in a standard room in spite of the confirmation . . . but, get this . . . and they are going to charge you the suite room rate because that’s the daily rate your confirmation says. Go fish. They’re all crooks.

Just a Note

They are definitely trying to sell the upgrades, though each property seems to have discretion. During a trip a couple of weeks ago, an Embassy Suites messaged to offer an upgrade as a Diamond Member for a “small fee”.

I told them no thanks, I thought if the space was available then it should be offered as a complimentary upgrade. Not long after, they offered a free upgrade as a courtesy. Turns out the place was a bit of a dive, and the upgrade wasn’t much. One of the worst I’ve seen.

Next night, upgraded without even asking at a Hilton, which by contrast was one of the best. Go figure.

Nope

Been a GM in a franchise Hilton branded property for a decade. No message from corporate about upgrades, no such letter exists.

Diane

Don’t feel bad. I am a top ranked Marriott customer. Three times in a row no upgrades. So I called as a new reservation and they had the rooms. I guess you have to pay for an upgrade now. I am booking less and less with Marriott, trying other chains. Thanks for the warning.

Reno Joe

Diane, I was a multi-year Ambassador (and Globalist). I was in your shoes. The other chains are the same. That’s another warning. I have become the hotel loyalty programs’ worst critic. Check out the “other path” that I mention in other comments to this article.

Pat

The terms and upgrade properties are not new (at least 10 years it has been that way). I think simply what has occured is now Hilton has significantly oversaturated the market full of Diamonds (especially USA with Aspire cardholders getting Diamond plus others who don’t make it via normal spend). Now hotels can’t give upgrades easily. Even eligible properties are giving upgrades less and less.

Last edited 3 months ago by Pat
Robert

I am a Diamond member and stay at Hilton properties almost every week. Typically, on request, I am given an upgrade. Last week at an Embassy Suites property I was upgraded to a 2 bedroom suite. There may be corp policies but it seems to be at a property level where the final decision is made.

K glad

As a ten year Diamomd member Hilton absolutely sucks! Time for Marriott

Brian B.

I’m a Diamond member and have received some minor upgrades at properties that don’t have to reward anything, such as: better views, corner rooms, or suites for a minor upcharge. However, it appears that the automated upgrades can be denied by the property. I booked a Double Tree last week and received an email within 72 hours that I would be upgraded. During the mobile check-in process, I was upgraded to a suite and that was even the only room type that I could choose. When I arrived to the hotel, the front desk informed me that the suite would be around $80 more per night, so they tried a bait and switch tactic. So, I don’t trust the automated upgrades at properties who are supposed to offer them to elites either.

Terri

Without the room upgrades, and lately the food has not been quality. I usually have to ask for water. What is really the benefit to be loyal to Hilton? I have heard much better things about Marriotts reward system.

Bob Pope

I’ve been Marriott for 3 years. I’m pretty happy

Reno Joe

You haven’t been with them long enough. Just wait.

Reno Joe

There is no benefit.

As for Marriott, I was a multi-year Ambassador. Don’t believe what you’ve heard.

Read my other comments to this article.

Randy

The majority of the properties that you rant about only have one class of rooms.

Wayne D.

I was recently denied an upgrade at Embassy Suites Buffalo. They couldn’t offer food and bev credit since bar gave up liquor license, and only food was breakfast. Didn’t probably won’t be returning there.

Alexandro

Do you even know the benefits?

Why would you get an upgrade at Embassy Suites when that is not a listed benefit?

Same for F&B credit. Not a listed benefit.

It really is amazing how clueless so many people are with information that is easily found in the app or on the site.

Do some research

For a frequent traveller site, you’d think the author would be more clued up on loyalty programs T&Cs.

Quick search on Flyer Talk shows this dates back to at least 2012.

Frank Doyle

I am diamond and asked for and received an upgrade at an embassy suites just last month without it being an issue.

Annette

I like Hilton Honors. I regularly travel for work and I am a Diamond member. I have found this to be true. Generally I don’t get an upgrade at Hamptons or Garden Inns, but I almost always do when staying at a Doubletree or similar tier hotel. While I generally don’t love this policy, I find the F&B credit even more aggravating. I have only been to one hotel that applied it correctly without me having to talk to the front desk or call the Diamond line. They either forget to apply it, don’t know how to rules work, or just have different rules at different hotels I’ve stayed at. Would really love to see Hilton get everyone on the same page for both of these.

Kathy J

I recently stayed at a Hampton Inn in NYC. I asked for an upgrade on two different occasions. When I checked in I asked if an upgrade was available and the desk clerk went and asked her manager who said no. There were rooms available according to the checkin person. It’s really a joke and the hotel was a dump.

Reno Joe

Kathy J, just imagine the same scenario happening to a multi-year Ambassador over on Marriott. Although, there was no brand exclusion in my case. Multiple suites were available for our entire stay and being told by the on-duty manager “We’re simply not going to give you a suite for seven days.” You see, ultimately, upgrades are at the discretion of the property. It’s a racket. Anyone who maintains a glimmer of hope about hotel loyalty programs is deluding oneself. Find a different path. I did.

spinne

I was at a JW Marriott over Christmas, applied the SNA for 8 days and received a great suite with sundeck, outside sauna and shower.
This was in China where status is really recognized as in the rest of Asia

Sam Maronie

I am so disgusted with Hilton. Just try to get someone from Corporate to return a call—impossible!

Christian

This is sad but not surprising.

John Huffman

I have been a Diamond and Gold member for several years. The terms have always said no upgrades at those properties. Also those where upgrades are available…..it has always been to the next available room type.
I myself usually do ask for upgrades, even when they are not upgrade hotels. I have got them free and one time paid a little extra.

The point of the program is loyalty to the hotel chain.

Always expect to get what you book. Then be happy if you get any upgrade beforehand or by asking. It does not hurt to ask, just expect a “no” and be surprised if get a “yes”.

Orman

You say “the point of the program is loyalty to the hotel chain”; in your view what does the hotel chain offer in return for that loyalty?

Reno Joe

Orman, fulfillment of hotel loyalty program benefits ultimately rests with the individual property. And, the individual property owners don’t give a (squat) about loyalty to the hotel chain — they care about loyalty to their specific property. After so many bad scenarios with the programs, I had an epiphany about the foregoing. My wife and I regularly visit three cities and we chose a hotel in each city. We became regulars at those three hotels. Once we were recognized as such, we talked with the sales director at each hotel and negotiated a “frequent guest” package. At each hotel, we have a sizable rate discount (which replaces foregone points at the chains) and a range of perks that exceed any tier benefits any program offers. We haven’t looked back. Best of luck.

Orman

Oh I agree completely and I have had very pleasant responses and stays at non Hilton hotels that I frequently visit.

I think the case in this article was saying is Hilton is saying stay at a Hilton brand hotel and you get x y z.

I think it would be much cleaner for them if they just said Hilton, that’s it Hilton and Conrad, that’s it no Hampton inn etc…

They need to keep it separate and not dilute their brand.

Some would be surprised to realize that Banana Republic, Gap & Old Navy are the same company they don’t dilute their brands they keep each one different and they attract and keep the specific customer type that they’re going towards.

By them saying a person that has stayed 60 nights at the Hilton in Prague and a person that stays 60 nights at the airport Hampton inn have the same status.

In addition as I mentioned earlier they’re extending the memberships 12 and 24 months for the slightest reason so yeah now you have a thousand people asking for room upgrades every night…

Which it says is part of being a diamond member on the Hilton website –

“Space-available room upgrades
If we have a better room available, it’s yours – up to a 1-bedroom suite.”

I have no doubt in the t’s and C’s it lists the specifics of not covering Hampton inns etc however that’s Hilton’s fault they are setting a false expectation.

John Huffman

The return is the ability to earn points for free nights.

Orman

On the Hilton site it states and I’ve copied and pasted it here

Diamond member benefit

“Space-available room upgrades
If we have a better room available, it’s yours – up to a 1-bedroom suite.”

if they only want to give that out for certain brand types like Hilton and Conrad then they need to add that there; not bury it in the t’s and C’s

Reno Joe

Correct. And, I think the average person sees not earning those points and sees losing that value and feels bound to some program . . . any program. (Read John R’s comment below.) But, for me, I’ve been fortunate enough to negotiate an average discount of about 20 percent with the hotel directly (not including credit card points). That is greater than the value of free nights from program points. And, where the value of tier benefits is elusive at best, my negotiation includes full breakfast — anything on the menu — and not a dollar coupon. Other perks as well — they gladly accommodate 6pm and 8pm check-out and the occasional cabana by the pool, etc. I have become evangelized about this. I’m not trying to brag — I’m trying to open a door to a new world for people — as Dorothy did when entering Oz.

Reno Joe

What ever happened to the “best room in the house” language? What ever happened to the “no black-out dates” language? What ever happened to the “guaranteed room type” language? I’m not an entitled millennial. I’m a boomer business owner who wants the benefit of the bargain. The hotel loyalty program advertising says you get this and you get that. The terms and conditions say you don’t get this and you don’t get that. The deception is premeditated.

Orman

Exactly the problem is in the spirit of the thing not the legality.

You can say, join our program and get free food.

And if in the t’s and C’s it says valid except on a day that ends in the letter y; then you’re going to have a bunch of people that aren’t happy with you.

Kalboz

At a recent stay at the Millennium Hilton Bangkok, we were “upgraded” to an executive room. When I asked for a suite upgrade, was told that they only do one category upgrade at this property. I searched the HH T&C and did not find any language that mentions this “one-category upgrade”!

The “executive” room BTW was just your run of the mill room but on a higher floor. A gimmick to circumvent Hilton official upgrade policy!

Moral of the event, don’t feel alone even “a regular” Hilton is cheating!

Anthony

I mean, most of these hotels don’t have rooms that you would really want to be “upgraded” into anyway. Increasingly newer hotels in brands like Hampton or wharf ever just have one or two room types.

For what it is (a brand with a ton of limited service properties everywhere, along with some nice luxury properties for redemptions, but not one where elite treatment or benefits are to be expected), Hilton is fine. If you are someone staying 100 nights at Hampton Inn and expecting red carpet treatment after, you are doing it wrong to begin with

Orman

I agree with most of what you said however I am finding at standard Hilton properties Hilton resorts they are no longer offering free next category available upgrades.

If you get one you have to fight with them to get it.

They’re not offering breakfast and the executive lounges no longer have any food or drink it’s just a room that you can go into.

I will put the caveat of this is what I found in the US; in Europe it’s a whole other ball game.

Matthew

In case no one here looks at Stephen’s other link, these are the properties that are participating in the auto-upgrade program Hilton recently announced:

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

https://frequentmiler.com/heres-hiltons-auto-upgrade-policy-order-eligible-brands/

Reno Joe

And, each individual property has its own upgrade policy. And, that policy will most likely give you a one-notch upgrade but not a suite (even if one is Diamond and a suite is otherwise available). They have every trick in the book to deny you. Quit getting sucked in.

John R

Over the past two years between COVID and a personal decision to relocate my home, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that travel brand loyalty is a bit of a trap. I was in deep and it made it harder to see things objectively. However, over the past year, a number of extremely poor experiences with Hilton, Marriott, American and United got me to see things from a new perspective.

To be brand loyal, I end up going out of my way to stay at the property within a chain that works best for me, rather than reversing that and first determining what would be best for my particular stay agnostic to chain, and then going with a particular loyalty play if all else is equal. I’d even be taking connecting flights to be brand loyal when I could otherwise fly direct.

Meanwhile, points continue to be devalued, breakfast benefits are sparse and inconsistent, and upgrades are largely an exception vs norm.

Being early into 2022, I’m shedding the idea that I need to be brand loyal and instead choosing flights and hotels based on convenience/ location, expected overall guest experience, and economics. I am pairing that with the idea that I’m no longer saving up points and miles for dream vacations. In reality, if you work a corporate job and are subject to scheduling realities when redeeming travel points it’s quite difficult to get reasonable value from a points bank at a highly demanded location.

I already feel so much more piece of mind. This might not work for everyone, but if we truly value our time and experiences in life, being deep into the brand loyalty game might not be congruent with that philosophy.

whocares

Also helps to be open to AirBnB, Booking.com non-hotel options or cheap apts, etc…I always try to mix it up on longer trips. Mix of cheap hotels, non-hotels, big hotel chains, etc…

Reno Joe

John R, you are another soul saved. Yea verily you have seen the light. Congratulations. Please read my other comments. Best of luck.

Tired of the diamonds

Everything seems absurd to me. I work at a Hilton property and have worked at different Hilton properties for the past 15 years.This article seems fake. Upgrades are available if there is availability. But think of it as a managed own property who bought the franchise. Why would you give a $600-800 room suite to someone that is paying half or less than half. It’s plain business. One of the things that will not get you an upgrade is starting the sentence with “iM a DiAmOnD mEmBeR”… you can’t get everything free. Does Amazon give you free products for using their business? Maybe free shipping if you’re a prime member.. but than again, you’re still paying a monthly service.

Orman

As an Amazon Prime member, I agreed to pay a fee and they agreed to give me free shipping.

If in the middle of my membership Amazon said we’re no longer giving you free shipping We’ll give you discounted shipping what should my response be?

Hilton said “stay with us so many nights and you will become a diamond member” and in return, we will give you an upgrade; executive lounge access, and in some cases breakfast.

From my point of view; I did pay to become a diamond member. I chose to stay at Hilton over other hotels in order to obtain diamond status.

I stayed more than 60 nights however now they are saying; I’m oversimplifying here: no upgrades, no food available in the executive lounge, no breakfast but you can have $20.00 to spend in the coffee shop.

If Hilton overpromised that’s an issue that Hilton has to resolve.

I think the part of the issue is that Hilton unilaterally decided to extend its diamond memberships; Instead of so many stays within one year they took everybody’s membership and pushed it out an additional 12 to 24 months so you have way more diamond members on the books than are actually staying on properties.

If I had known that they were going to renege on the deal then I would have spent my money at Marriott and I’d have been at Ambassador level at this point and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

However, since I did make the investment in Hilton; I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to want them to keep to the terms of the original agreement.

Chris Stein

Grow up. Loyalty programs if all types change their terms and conditions from time to time. It’s a fact of life.

Bill

Lol. When you spend thousands a year with a Hilton CC, are a Diamond member, and stay exclusively at Hilton brand hotels, it has zero to do with growing up.

It has to do with I’m scratching your back, you scratch mine. You want me to stay at your properties, and use your credit card, and be a “Diamond “ member, make it worth something.

I could care less about Hampton Inns etc, all their rooms are very similar usually. But for instance, Ocean Enclave in MYB wouldn’t even let you use points, for any room. That is BS. I understand not some super fancy sweet or something, but a 2 bdr ocean front room, or any room for that matter, BS.

With your logic, you’d be fine with whatever you like breaking it off in ya half way through the membership or whatever, because hey, they change T&C’s all the time.

Bill

Oceans 22 we had already stayed at, we wanted to try Enclave. 22 did let you use points.

Hawaii, Italy, all over the World did, just not that hotel in MYB. And yes yes, T&C, not a soul from Hilton could answer the why. Not even a oh hey, it’s in the fine print. They had not a clue.

Matthew

It sounds like you’ve been mistreated by some entitled people, and I’m sorry to hear that. Working in hospitality is not easy for sure, but again being a Diamond is not free. Maybe the hotel doesn’t see much in terms of additional revenue from an upgraded guest, but they certainly should get something for it. Especially if there are plenty of rooms unsold, what is wrong with upgrading someone in hopes they come back to your hotel? A lot of Diamond members book Hilton for the perks, even if it costs more than another similar hotel. This is why independently owned properties join a chain. But there are rules and expectations to be part of the Hilton brand. It’s up to each property to decide if the brand is worth it, and I’m sure many owners run the numbers, as at the end of the day, revenue is what counts. As a Diamond member myself, I am always polite when asking for an upgrade. I really appreciate an employee’s time to check when I arrive or chat on the app. Even if no upgrade is available, I really appreciate those employees who try to find a nice corner room, or whatever.

Reno Joe

Tired of the diamonds, you miss the point. I am a business owner and I understand what you’re saying. Business owners will attract repeat business by treating their customers well . . . or not. You really don’t understand the two-way street of loyalty. And, it seems you have a dim view of people.

Hilton’s loyalty program says that if a person does X amount of business with the program, then the person will get these benefits. Relying on that representation, consumers make a choice. And, after the person does X amount of business, the person has a reasonable expectation that they should receive those benefits. In contract law, that’s called getting the benefit of your bargain. The problem is that after fulfilling the requirement to receive those benefits, someone like you comes along and says “why would [I] give a $600-800 room suite to someone that is paying half or less than half[?]” The consumer is saying “but you told me if I did X that I should get it and I did X.”

My wife and I spend six figures a year on hotels . . . and the first digit isn’t a low number. We drop at one property in one year what it takes a cash payer to earn Diamond for Life or Globalist for Life. We are the type of guest every property wants. We are gracious about it and certainly don’t lord it over anyone. But, as a business owner, I know how I would being treating my top clients.

When a top customer comes across a petty and ungracious attitude like yours, the customer knows that loyalty is not a two-way street at your property and would rightfully resolve never to stay at your property again. And, as a business owner, I would see an employee such as you as the number one threat to my business.

Orman

Well said….

Nathn

Oh, yeah. God Forbid I start off with my member status, which is supposed to entitle me to said upgrade. . You sound like a total corporate shill. You know why you upgrade that guy with the expensive suite? First of all, it’s apparently empty anyways. Second, when that person comes back to your city, they’ll stay at your hotel again. And upgrades won’t always be available. And lastly, because your boss bought into a franchise with a policy in place that, at least at one time, REQUIRED him to upgrade people. If they didn’t like that program, shouldn’t have bought the franchise

Bill

Because for most of us we have spent a lot of money with Hilton. If you don’t want to offer perks with these loyalty programs and have your logic, scrap the whole f*kin thing. And just is what it is. Don’t offer the stuff and act like it’s great if it’s just BS.

And it is business, that guy this time whose only coming for a night or two and gets a good upgrade, you have a high probability next time he could stay a week and bring the family. Tell relatives, buddies, TripAdvisor, etc, that hey, such and such treated me very well.

Or you’re running it and you basically tell them tough titties, your loyalty means squat, and they never return, so good luck with that.

And as a Prime customer, there’s free shipping, their Prime television stuff, their deals you only get with Prime, and their music app. Ya know, things you pay for Prime for and get as perks.

And that’s the whole fu* kin point of being a Diamond member according to YOUR COMPANIES website and perks. Upgrades. And the room is still far from free. And with the profits they make, what does it matter what room someone is in? As long as they aren’t taking a suite from a customer paying full price, it means squat.

If you’re the future of Hilton, Hilton is screwed.

Last edited 3 months ago by Bill
Jurlt

This just happened to me over new years. Lifetime Diamond member and booked a Home2 suites in Ormond beach. Booked a regular room with the hopes that we could get an upgrade once everyone went home on the 3rd and we weren’t leaving till the 6th. Were told they no longer do upgrades so they wouldn’t give us an ocean view room. They even told us they had plenty of rooms and we could pay 50.00 a night for the room. The last few nights we counted 41 of the 66 rooms facing the ocean never had a light turned on. Needles to say I’ll never stay there and although we don’t eat breakfast at the hotel that week we loaded up on breakfast.

Scott

Seems like it would be appropriate to file complaints with state AGs or the FCPA when the terms state, “if there’s a room available, it’s yours”.

Reno Joe

Yep

Chris Stein

Not really. An empty room (or suite) is not necessarily an available room (or suite). It’s available if the hotel decided it is.

On top of that the program’s terms and conditions are clear about the brands that do not give upgrades to Honors members.

Scott

This will be one for the lawyers. But filing the complaint can’t hurt — it’s not like the complaint would be in bad faith — although it might cause Hilton to remove the “if we’ve got a room” statement. Generally, when there are conflicting statements in a legal document, deference is given to the party that did *not* draft the document.

Didn’t FM used to have a legal beagle they’d turn to for an article from time to time? @Greg — it would be interesting to hear some thoughts from a professional on this, rather than just our musings.

Bill

If it’s one of the ones that don’t offer an upgrade, absolutely. But for the ones that do, take it out of the language if you aren’t going to honor it.

William

I think all my best Hilton upgrades (at least domestically) were paid through their bidding system. I can’t think of a good one I’ve ever gotten complimentary as a Diamond. About the only benefits I use are the 48 hour guarantee and customer service line, and it’s hard to justify staying extra for that.

Matthew

If you bid, I wouldn’t count on getting an upgrade then. You’re paying Hilton, so of course, they’re going to take your money. I certainly see the benefit of bidding, especially if you’re really not okay with the standard room you already booked. You can certainly ask if they have an upgrade available, even after having your bid accepted. You never know until you ask. Usually, my upgrades are processed a couple of days before check-in. I’m not sure when the bidding process closes, but you might want to wait until then to submit it.

William

I rarely bid, but when I was Gold I would occasionally do it, and I’d end up with better upgrades than I would for free as a Diamond at the same properties. I’ve asked before, but never been given anything of value. It could be that I’m missing something, but I have a hard time justifying Diamond for how I travel. At least with Marriott I get suite upgrades that I’ve gotten some great upgrades using.

Matthew

Wow, glad to hear you’ve had good luck at Marriott. I can’t get upgrades accepted using SNAs so I’ve actually canceled reservations last minute to go with another option. I guess it may just be really property dependent and not chain.

Matthew

Wow, Hampton is quite the popular brand. This is good to know. I didn’t realize this either. I always tend to ask at check-in. I will say that at least based on my experience, I’m more likely to be proactively upgraded at Hilton. This month I was actually partially downgraded. The Barcelona diagonal upgraded us to a one bedroom suite but then shifted down to an executive room. We ended up using the app to get a decent corner room, but when asked if we could get moved back into the suite, they ignored us on the app. I wasn’t too upset as the reservation was originally for my Dad and he couldn’t make it. They did fuss about that and ended up awarding us 0 points by linking my Honors number instead of his. We are both Diamond so don’t see the big deal, but it could have been worse. Next time I know, don’t let them link another honors number. I still plan on asking for the points manually. Worse they can do is say no. We were there only 2 nights and the app showed they had plenty of suites available. Oh well.

Anyway, Marriott seems a lot worse about upgrades generally speaking. Unless it’s a good point value, I generally save them for 5 night stays. Hyatt is my go to. Then Airbnb.

Tired of the diamonds

You’re dumb. The person whose name is on the reservation needs to do be there to check in. Unless your dad called the hotel to make the changes. I’m tired of “elite” members thinking they can run the world because they’re Diamond members. It’s not a Diamond to rule the world, kid. Sit down. Do you buy a plane ticket for your dad and expect to board on his behalf? I didn’t think so. I’m tired of people thinking they own the brand because “iM a DiAmOnD mEmBeR” get over yourself. Pay full price if you want to guarantee the suite and stop paying for the cheapest room in the hopes to get an upgrade.

Matthew

I think you need to calm down and get over yourself. He did call and we were within the time frame to cancel and were willing to do so. I would have found a different place to stay if they had a problem with it. And actually, I tend to book Southwest bc I can cancel and completely refund back to points. I choose to take my business to Hilton because they do treat their elite guests better, if they don’t, my business and money goes elsewhere. Hilton makes it very clear that elite members get space available upgrades. It’s not like being Diamond is free. So you need to get over yourself and stop reading blogs like this if you aren’t interested in utilizing the benefits that are listed on these hotel websites. If they didn’t have nicer rooms available when I checked in, then fine, I would be perfectly happy with the standard room I booked. I only expect an upgrade when space is available, as Hilton advertises it as being part of their brand and a benefit I happily pay for.

Reno Joe

Matthew, you must understand that Tired of the diamonds is 1) admittedly a Hilton person and 2) representative of the attitude of property owners. Don’t waste your time and energy with a petty and ungracious individual who doesn’t understand that loyalty and the program’s terms and conditions are a two-way street. Knowing this, why would you ever want to stay at a Hilton again . . . or a hotel belonging to any of these shyster programs?

Oliver

Earning 10x at the Capital One Travel Portal sounds reasonable at domestic properties. I will have to run the numbers to find out if it makes sense to earn Hilton points or Capital One miles. Now that I will not get a room upgrade and a coupon for breakfast, it is a much easier calculation. All of the intangibles have been eliminated. The breakfast coupon is the only benefit of status in the USA.

Matthew

That’s a really good point! I know Cap1 probably has negotiated rates via Hopper. It’s how they pay for that 10x program. I just booked my friend using his new X card. Booking direct was a little cheaper, so I tried out the best price guarantee and within 10 mins, they price matched (including wait time). Quite happy! It wasn’t much, but it definitely gives me the confidence to use them in the future.

Wolfie52

I’ve been a Gold or Diamond since 2015. I have never expected nor been offered an upgrade at Hampton, HGI. AFK upgrades were only available at Hilton, Conrad and Doubletree. If you go on to account page it will tell you the “benefits ” of each property, including possible upgrades…not that hard.

Don’t know why this is a surprise. I never EXPECT an upgrade either. We have become such an “entitled” society we spend more time obsessing about what we DON’T GET, rather than enjoying what we HAVE.

Reno Joe

I don’t disagree with anything you say. (I am many years the senior of millennials.) But, the one expectation to which everyone is entitled is being able to even use one’s points. Now, consider that property owners have “managed” award inventory to preclude award stays (for practical purposes). We’re not talking about this black-out date or that black-out date — we’re talking about NO award availability, period. One can find article after article about this being done.

Drew

“Entitled” society? What? Do you work for Hilton? Hilton specifically states that certain Hilton members are entitled to the room upgrades, not society.
Hilton’s member website specifically states “space-available room upgrades” for gold and diamond. The space is there but they just don’t want to give it to you. Show me where it says “not available for 75% of Hilton properties.”

https://www.hilton.com/en/hilton-honors/member-benefits/

Tired of the diamonds

Yes, it absolutely is entitled society. “BuT iM a dIaMoNd mEmBer” entitlement that reeks. Diamond means nothing. Pay full price, cheapo. Stop booking cheap rooms in the hopes to get an upgrade. Diamond status gets you points- with points you can book free stay depending on how many points you got. Don’t got enough for a suite? Then pay for it. Don’t expect a hotel to give you something because “yOuRe a DiaMond mEmber”. Get over yourself. And yes, I do work at a Hilton property and even if I had rooms to upgrade, the moment someone starts their requests with but I’m a Diamond member- you don’t get anything from me. You’re lucky if I let you grab some free sodas and snacks. Sit down cheapo.

CHRIS

Or we could just do one better and stay elsewhere. Then after enough of us doing that, you’ll be back to rounding up carts in the parking lot at Walmart.

Reno Joe

You seem angry at the world. What is it that’s missing in your life? Missing and that you will never seem to get? Is the chip on your shoulder from your lack of success or just a poor self-image? What parents raised you?

Chris Stein

Empty room and suites are not necessarily available rooms and suites.

Philip

I get more upgrades at IHG properties than Hilton, even though I’m a ‘life time Diamond’ member. I’ve received less than 10 upgrades at Hilton properties in the the last 5+ years.

Reno Joe

If anyone is worried about this, then one is still in the hotel loyalty program game. And, after ALL of the articles about what the programs and property owners are pulling, anyone still playing the hotel loyalty program game deserves what they get. Or, is it that they like getting screwed? Find another path and move on.

WR2

Hilton Diamond in the US is garbage. Who would have guessed that elite status would be diluted after extending status for two years and giving away top tier status with a CC?

Anyone who actively tries to earn Hilton status via stays is a sucker. They are my backup plan now. I’d have zero expectations in the US, but hopefully international doesn’t go downhill as well.

Tired of the diamonds

This is the problem in the USA- ENTITLEMENT. People want everything for free. And when you don’t get what you want, you act like spoiled brats. PAY FULL PRICE for your goddamn suite. You book a room to sleep and shower while you’re on vacation- why are people so obsessed with upgrades. Do you get item upgrades when you buy on Amazon? Does the grocery store give you free food because you’re an elite member and you shop there everyday? No. At the end of the day- it’s a business. Pay full price to guarantee that suite you want.

WR2

And you are acting like a bitter, frustrated old man. Back in your day I guess you had to walk five miles barefoot in the snow to school, huh? For someone that supposedly doesn’t care about upgrades and loyalty programs, then why are here, and commenting so prolifically? Either you have loyalty envy, or you’re a bitter hotel employee, not sure which.

Of course entitlement is a problem in the US, and pretty much everywhere else, but you’re so wrong on this issue. Loyalty programs make promises and don’t deliver, then change terms after people have spent money either on CC or at the hotel chains. It’s not being entitled to expect a company to deliver on their promises. If you don’t want to offer upgrades, then don’t advertise it as a benefit.

And yes, I do get free groceries from the grocery store. Safeway rewards. I’m sure other grocery stores have similar loyalty programs…so a big swing and a miss on that analogy, smart guy.

Origami

Sorry after all your years at Hilton they still keep you away from customers and the food. Hopefully you get the promotion you’ve been seeking, and start feeling better about the customers who spend the most money with your company.

Reno Joe

Origami, it’s that Tired needs to start feeling better about him/herself. The anger is about a life gone by and asking oneself “so, is this it for me?”

Reno Joe

How about this one? How about having a confirmed cash booking for a suite . . . and then I’m told I will only get a standard room . . . irrespective of the confirmed booking . . . but wait . . . and I will have to pay the suite daily rate because that’s what my confirmed booking says? I went down the route you said — just book and pay for the suite you want. And, the property says I’m getting a room that is $400 per night less? Go fish. Tired, you can talk yourself blue in the face. The property owners are crooks. And, that is why I’ve left the hotel loyalty program game. I will never stay at a Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, or Marriott.

Orman

As a diamond member I also feel Dishonored at this point they’re not giving any upgrades at most places don’t have breakfast anymore there’s really no advantage to being a Hilton diamond member anymore so we focused on getting marriot these guys got to get their act together… Of course that’s only going to happen if we all sort of band together and say we’re going to vote with our feet, I would be happy to join some sort of formal alliance that puts this right squarely in front of them

Last edited 3 months ago by Orman
Drazo

As a Diamond member for a very long time and being Marriott as well the mid tier HGI, Embassy S. Upgrade choices are minimal at best other floor level or snacks and both brands have very similar policies. When I’m @ higher level /none business class properties Upgrades are offered.

Drew

Please use periods.

Chris Stein

Good luck. There are 115million + Honors members. Millions are Diamond tier. Tens of millions are Gold. If say 100,000 took flight no one would notice.

J J

I’m pretty sure this policy has been there for years. Nevertheless, I got great upgrades to suites at 2 Hamptons (with asking) and a Homewood (without asking) last summer.

VIS

Totally agree. Hilton Galveston Resort actually downgraded my room to a first floor, parking lot view when I checked in online. 30 minutes wait time at reception desk and finally they changed my room to a higher floor, still unacceptable. No recognition of Diamond status.

Chris Stein

Oh there was ‘recognition of Diamond status’. It’s why you were downgraded. Most people at properties have encountered enough loathsome Diamond members to make love tormenting them.

Mike

At least for Hampton, upgrades were not required when I worked at a Hampton 12 years ago whole going through school. We would offer to returning Diamond/Gold guests (we had several each week), but any Diamond/Gold member would not typically receive an upgrade.
As a Diamond now over the past 4 years (by stays), I rarely get upgrades at the properties listed.

Fathiss

I would be careful complaining about a hotel stay with Hilton that involves receiving compensation ($40 in the example above). Hilton has a history of confiscating your points and kicking you out of the Hhonors program for doing so. They have a very heavy handed approach to deal with dissenters.

AbeRom

I’ve been a Hilton diamond for a while now along with top tier elite with all the other major chains. I always found that elite recognition at Hilton was nowhere near Hyatt and only slightly better than Marriott. In my opinion, the introduction of the Aspire was the game changer. Once that card came out and everyone and their grandmother became instant Diamonds, I have really felt a significant decline in elite recognition at Hilton and its only gotten worse from there. Just my theory though.

Reno Joe

To your point, MGM just overhauled its loyalty program. It recognized that it was too easy to gain elite status. It became 1) give everyone a little or 2) give your best customers a lot. It chose to reserve elite status for those who are truly its best customers. The traditional hotel loyalty programs have chosen the former . . . which requires them to unwind all of the tier benefits of value . . . and, so, even the best customers end up with “a little.”

Orman

Here,here!

Orman

Exactly

Prester John

We’ve been Bonvoyed.

Reno Joe

Prester John, whence came thee?

Lon

My suggestion is that we get together and express to corporate our disappointment with this policy. They surely follow travel blogs such as this and I would hope are sensitive to travelers concerns. If we can get enough bloggers to make an issue about this maybe it will put pressure on them to consider a change.

Last edited 4 months ago by Lon
Reno Joe

Lon, you don’t need to tell someone the results of their lie detector test. They already know whether they are telling the truth or lying. The hotel executives and property owners know EXACTLY what they’re doing. And, they will continue to chip away at the benefits until their revenue needle moves. But, their revenue needle won’t move because all of the chumps who are still addicted to “status” and credit card sign-up bonuses. Anyone still playing the hotel loyalty program game deserves what they get. But, then, there are those who enjoy being screwed. Wise up.

El Ingeniero

I think this language dates back to at least 2017, at least for Hampton Inn & Suites.

Aj K.

They also took away free breakfast from gold+diamond members at the places that have cooked to order bfast. Now it’s a credit that usually doesn’t cover it. That’s the #1 reason we stay with them. It’s like they’re trying to push us away!

Reno Joe

It is about a single question: What is the absolute least we have to give these suckers to keep them hooked? Until our revenue needle moves, we know that they’re still hooked. So, let’s take another benefit away . . . and another.