I saw several headlines about how Hilton had extended the loyalty status for members of Hilton Honors throughout 2022. Hilton also is applying all 2021 stays into 2022, making it easier for people to requalify for status for 2023 and beyond.
I’m sure that hotel loyalty programs, and honestly the rest of us, hoped we’d be coming out of the pandemic by the end of 2021. Trends seemed to be going in that direction, but the combination of lower than hoped vaccination rates in the US combined with the more highly transmissible Delta Variant meant that didn’t happen.
There’s uncertainty about whether there will be a Delta wave in the Northeast with kids going back to school and the weather getting colder, resulting in more people staying inside.
There’s no doubt that Hilton saw from booking trends that business travel isn’t returning as quickly as hoped and people are scaling back plans for leisure travel as well. That means there were going to be a bunch more people losing status than planned. That’s bad news because status is one reason people pick one chain above another. If you’re not bound to choose a hotel because of a possible upgrade or complimentary breakfast, you might shop around and find the best hotel for your stay based on the quality of the hotel.
That’s not what loyalty programs want.
I wasn’t surprised to see a hotel loyalty program extend benefits into 2022. I was somewhat shocked to see that it was Hilton Honors that took the lead. Not only did they extend status through all of 2022, but they also extended the points expiration date to the end of 2022.
This is a much bigger deal for the marginal user of Hilton Honors. While the Diamond level members may have hundreds of thousands of points in the program, the little guy may only have 40,000 points from a few nights at a Hampton Inn. They’re close to earning enough for a free night and only need 1-2 more stays for a decent redemption.
How’d you feel if Hilton took those points because you didn’t stay with them throughout the pandemic?
Now that Hilton has made this move, it will be interesting to see if others follow.
Hyatt, IHG, Wyndham, and Radisson points are all set to expire at the end of 2021. Marriott Bonvoy points are due to expire at the end of March 2022. I’m not expecting all of them to extend to the end of 2022, but I’d be surprised if any one of them wants to be the first to tell people their loyalty points will disappear at the end of the year.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary