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Social media reps from Hilton Honors recently went online at Flyertalk to announce a change to the way that the fifth night free award benefit would be calculated going forward.
We’re making it a little easier for our Silver, Gold and Diamond members to see how many Points they need when booking a Standard Room Reward stay for five nights or more. As many of you know, when you used to book a reward stay of five nights or more, the 5th Night Free benefit was shown as a discount to Standard Room Reward stays of 5 or more nights. The total discount was equal to the average nightly Point price for the stay dates and was then divided across all nights of the stay.
Going forward, Elite members will now see every 5th night of a Standard Room Reward stay will now be discounted to 0 Points, up to 4 free nights per stay. All other nights of the stay will be charged the applicable full Standard Room Reward price.
I can understand what Hilton Honors is thinking. With the new variable pricing scheme, members can easily lose track of the perk of receiving the fifth night free on reward bookings. In order to ensure warm and fuzzy feelings from its elite status members, Honors wants us to see this:
Of course, many travel hackers will immediately jump to a simple conclusion… if you line up your dates so that the fifth night is the most expensive, you will save points!
In practice it appears that Hilton Honors has slipped in another stealth devaluation. Take the example of the Conrad London St. James. In early December, you can book individual nights at a variety of different prices.
If we decided to check in on Thursday, 7 December, we should be able to pay (if Hilton Honors was being honest about the fifth night being free):
- 68K for 7 December
- 61K for 8 December
- 68K for 9 December
- 61K for 10 December
- Completely free for 11 December
As explained by Hilton Honors reps, the total cost should be 258,000 Honors points. Under the old system of average pricing, the total cost would have been 264,800 (a 20% discount on the sum of the five nights in question)
Instead, an attempt to book a 5-night stay from 7-12 December will result in a charge of 272,000 Honors points. In essence, Hilton Honors is taking the maximum price of the 4 paid nights and applying it across the entire reservation.
It gets worse… In theory you should be able to book the period between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve for 68,000 points per night.
But if you try to book a five-night stay, instead of being charged 68 x 4 = 272,000 Honors points, you will be charged 320,000 points.
An IT glitch, or is Hilton Honors undertaking another stealth devaluation? It isn’t looking good…