A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me an email about non-existing upgrades he appears to be getting at Hilton affiliated hotels despite being a Diamond member.
You can access Hilton’s page for member benefits here.
Here’s the email from the reader:
Maybe you can shed some light on a subject – Hilton room upgrades for Diamond members.
I rarely get offered a room upgrade when I check in. Most times, I have to ask, and usually hear “We have already upgraded you to a Deluxe King”.
(What about the suites, etc??) What exactly constitutes a “deluxe” vs a non-deluxe room? Seems fishy to me.
In any case, why can’t the Hotel upgrades work more like airline upgrades – if an upgraded room is available when I’m eligible to check in, as a Diamond member, shouldn’t I be able to select it?
Checking in online, one is only able to select rooms of the same room type you have booked.
Supposedly checking in in advance doesn’t hurt your chances of getting a space-available upgrade, but I have YET to see that happen.
I’m sure that the front desk staff are busy, and can’t be pouring over Gold/Diamond reservations, which is why switching to a “pick your upgraded room at check-in” seems to make sense to me. Thoughts?
Here’s what the Hilton Honors T&Cs say about Diamond member upgrades (access here):
At Waldorf Astoria® Hotels & Resorts, Conrad® Hotels & Resorts, Canopy™ by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Curio – A Collection by Hilton and DoubleTree by Hilton™ and Tapestry Collection by Hilton™ properties, Diamond Hilton Honors Members will receive upgrades to preferred rooms, based on availability at the time of arrival (excludes Napua Tower at Grand Wailea and Imperial Floor at Rome Cavalieri). Upgrades for Diamond Hilton Honors Members may include upgrades up to “junior”, “standard” or “one-bedroom” suites. Upgrades may also be rooms with desirable views, corner rooms, rooms on high floors, rooms with special amenities or rooms on Executive Floors Upgrades. Upgrades exclude executive suites, villas and specialty accommodations (which may include, but not limited to, “Vista” and “Villa” accommodation types), subject to the discretion of the hotel. Group reservations and certain rates are not eligible for suite accommodations and may not be eligible for complimentary upgrades. All upgrades are granted on a space-available basis for the entire stay, as determined at the time of arrival. Preferred rooms are identified by each individual property and may vary within each brand. Upgrades will be given only for one room for the member, regardless of additional rooms the member may have purchased at or after the time of booking. 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®, and Hilton Grand Vacations®.
First absolutely stop using the app check in option if you want to get upgraded at Hilton properties unless the hotel has already processed the upgrade at the time you check in using it.
Many hotels won’t touch your reservation after you have chosen your room and checked in using the app. Period. You will lose any chance of getting upgraded.
Do use the Hilton’s website or the app to see if your reservation has been updated in the morning of your stay. The overnight shift usually processes the upgrades for the elite members. I usually double check the status of my reservation just before checking in using the app and to see what rooms/suites the hotel is still selling.
There is rarely any difference between standard, deluxe and club rooms. Deluxe Rooms could be on specific floor and club rooms may have slippers/bathrobes.
It doesn’t hurt to ask for specific suites or corner rooms that the hotel is still selling. If the front desk/club agent is not willing to upgrade, you can always ask to speak with the Manager on Duty or the Front Desk Manager and try to politely argue/charm him/her.
1. You tend to get better upgrades for shorter stays (hotels rarely want to commit larger suites for long)
2. Hotels outside of the United States tend to be better at upgrading members
3. There could be Diamond-fatigue at some hotels due to the fact that you can get the status by merely signing up for a credit card
4. Hotels tend to upgrade their returning Diamond guests first
I have two examples from the past week:
1. DoubleTree Minsk
I saw that the hotel processed the upgrade to a Junior Suite prior to my arrival. I mentioned this to the front desk and they had actually further upgraded me to a Diplomatic Suite (before checking in). Fantastic hotel.
2. Hilton Kiev
The reservation had been upgraded to a “premium” room of some sort (probably a fake category used for Diamond upgrades). Went to the executive lounge to check in where I had issue communicating with the lady working there.
She couldn’t process further upgrade by herself but had to call someone in the front office. Got an upgrade to a Panoramic view corner room that was nice.
Had several issues with this badly run hotel.
Hilton Honors program has not traditionally been very strong when it comes to Diamond member upgrades to suites. Going forward, hotels need to distinguish between real and fake Diamond members (shouldn’t be difficult) to make sure that the upgrades are given to those that actually stay at hotels.
There is nothing wrong asking for an upgrade and engaging the Manager on Duty or Front Desk Manager in the process. Some hotels do it right while others (usually the struggling ones that that are not well run) don’t.
I simply return to the hotels that take care of their elite members (provide more than the absolute minimum required by the program T&Cs) and pass the ones that don’t. This is one of the reasons why it makes sense to have status, if possible, with multiple chains. There is no one program/chain that has truly worldwide coverage.