Hilton making changes to loyalty program: Travel Weekly

Among other modifications, the company is allowing customers to use a combination of points and cash to redeem reward stays. They also will be able to use Hilton points to buy goods on Amazon.com.

Hilton Worldwide is overhauling its loyalty program, including tweaking the name. The company has dropped the extra “H,” as Hilton HHonors becomes Hilton Honors. “We think when you have a brand like ours, you don’t need gimmicks, and you don’t need shtick,” said Mark Weinstein, Hilton’s senior vice president and global head of loyalty.
Hilton will make four primary changes to the program this year. By the end of this month, the company is following the strategy of some airline frequent-flyer programs by allowing members to use a combination of loyalty points and cash — as opposed to points alone — to redeem reward stays.

Hilton Honors members will also be allowed to pool points with as many as nine other friends or family members, a helpful feature for customers booking group stays. Loyalty members who have been in the program’s top “Diamond” tier for at least three years will qualify for one year in which they can keep their status even if travel bookings fall below the Diamond level’s minimum requirements.
Finally, Hilton Honors members can use points to buy goods from online retailer Amazon.com. “Hilton Honors is being more flexible, more valuable and more personal to our members,” said Weinstein. “We’re providing a reason for less frequent travelers to be more engaged.”

Hilton is looking to narrow the gap with Marriott International, which acquired Starwood Hotels & Resorts last September, by garnering more business from its loyalty members.

The company, which estimates that about 55% of its hotel guests at any given time are loyalty members, boosted membership to Hilton Honors by about 15% last year to more than 60 million. By comparison, Marriott International had about 85 million loyalty members when combining its Marriott Rewards legacy program with Starwood Preferred Guest.

Hilton is also looking to build upon its stature as among the industry’s best in terms of guest satisfaction with its loyalty program. Last year, Hilton Honors was tied with Marriott Rewards atop J.D. Power’s Hotel Loyalty/Rewards Program Satisfaction report, which was released last April. Hilton Honors was also tied (with Canada-based Delta Hotels and Resorts, which was subsequently acquired by Marriott) for North America’s best hotel loyalty program in J.D. Power’s 2015 study.

Besides the loyalty program changes, Hilton is changing its corporate name to just “Hilton,” removing the “Worldwide” from its company title.

Source: Hilton making changes to loyalty program: Danny King – Travel Weekly

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