My twitterfeed has been filled with uproar over the change in Hilton Honors’ program the last two days. And rightfully so! Some properties’ redemption rate has gone up by 90%. Insane!
While most people are taking their points and running to a different program, I’m sitting here feeling validated for a past decision. It’s sort of like when you break up with someone because you fear they’ll never do anything with their life and they end up living up to that expectation. Hilton, you lived up to being disappointing.
Let me first say some positive things–Hilton’s lower end properties, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, and even most Embassy Suites are fantastic. In fact, I would like to single out three properties for going above and beyond: the Hilton Garden Inn Danbury, the Hilton Garden Inn Arlington (VA), and the Hampton Inn Chicago. But those are stories for another day.
And if you read through previous posts, you see me talking a lot about Hiltons. Keri was a Starwood Elite, and I was Hilton. We shared our status depending on where we wanted to stay, and what rates were good. But I secretly found myself rooting for Keri’s properties to win out each trip. What?! That means I lose points AND status night.
The truth is, it is really rare I feel wowed by a Hilton property. And my “wow” bar is extremely low. I called Keri when I was excited about two apples I was given at the Embassy Suites. But in this case, I’m not talking about “wow” from elite service, just from the normal level of service people in the hospitality business should give.
I stopped feeling like they cared how their customers were treated, and when things went wrong, stopped going above and beyond to fix it. And when you are about to spent one-third of your life over the next three months on the road (like me 😉 ), it is those little things that matter. I don’t always get to stay at the high-end properties (I travel on a budget for work), so when I do, if my experience is worse than the lower-end properties, it is really disappointing. Plus, what do I have to look forward to at that point?
I’ll give an example. I was staying at a Hilton, and my room door was at the edge of a hallway. There was a pretty wide berth immediately in front of the door, which allowed for congregating–which some people did. But the people who chose to weren’t guests at the hotel. It was the maid staff. And a few times during that trip, they were sitting in front of my door. When I’d go in to the room, they wouldn’t move, and I’d have to step around. When I finally said something at the front desk, the response was a sleepy, “Oh, we’ll say something to them.”
I had similar experiences as time went on. Finally, I realized how much I was dreading staying at Hiltons when I was moving from a Hampton Inn to a Hilton near the airport for an early morning flight the next day. I really wanted to stay at the Hampton Inn instead. I checked my options near the airport and found a DoubleTree there. I never really stayed at a DoubleTree, so I switched my reservation.
Keri was with me, and on a lark, I booked the romance package so we could enjoy bubbly and treats up in the room. When we checked in, the man’s demeanor changed when he realized we were two females checking into a romance package, and let’s just say the whole experience was uncomfortable and he was not nice. I’m not going to rehash which property, because I appreciate that the GM of it sent us an apology for our treatment, but I think these issues all show a larger problem with the way Hilton trains its staff. That experience was when I stopped pursuing Hilton elite status.