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?
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.
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.