On Saturday we wrote (read more here) about a message that members that try to book Hilton Waikoloa Village in Hawaii see, claiming that hotel would not upgrade elite members at all – ever.
The piece yielded lively conversation about elite benefits and some readers didn’t see an issue at all for not being upgraded at Hilton hotels (personally I have an issue with this).
You can access Hilton Waikoloa Village here.
Here’s the comment that the reader left, and subsequently deleted:
EDIT: The individual attributed in the above comment e-mailed us and asked to have the entire post removed claiming his Disqus account had been “hacked”. As a gesture of goodwill, we have edited the post content to remove the individual’s image and last name.
The problem is that self righteous “elite” travelers expect these upgrades because of their “hard earned elite” status. They often expect that actual paying guests who are smart enough to book the category they want should be bumped for them because, “oh I’m loyal and I spend money, and blah, blah, blah.”
You take it out on us hotel workers at the front desk like you somehow have a right to belittle us when we tell you we are fully committed and the no you are not getting a complimentary, as in FREE, as in YOU DONT WANT TO PAY, as in YOU WERENT SMART ENOUGH TO REALIZE THAT YOU’RE TRAVELING DURING A PEAK SEASON and your not a special snowflake that any of us at the front desk give two shits about because we woke up today with the express intention of ruining your vacation just so that we could be yelled at by some pretentious asshat about how you deserve an upgrade because of how much money you spend.
Do us a favor, save it for someone who does care, and more importantly, save your points for the times when you really need them, not just when you want to be a cheap bastard.
Wow, I am not quite sure where to start here. The owner of the Hilton Waikoloa Village (I didn’t check if this is one of the few properties still owned by Hilton) has deemed that it is beneficial for the company to be affiliated with Hilton and to fly their flag.
Part of deciding which brand a hotel adopts is the hotel’s ability to make sure that it fulfills the standards required and understands that the loyalty program is used to drive direct bookings (those are a lot cheaper than OTA bookings – think 15% commission). An important part of the loyalty program is to provide the benefits to the elite members.
Running a branded hotel does not come cheap, as you can see from the standard Hilton franchise agreement below. The fees total perhaps 25% to 30% of the revenue.
I hate nothing more than coming to a disorganized and badly run branded property. You can usually tell how the hotel is run from:
1. Arrival experience. Are there any bellmen around?
2. Elite member check-in desk. Does the hotel have one, and is it actually staffed and does it actually only deal with elite member guests?
3. Has the hotel properly assigned rooms/suites during the overnight shift? I hate nothing more than hotel staff starting to do a room/suite allocation in front of you.
4. Is the key packet and registration form ready? There is no excuse to not to have these in advance for elite members.
5. Does the hotel have the most qualified agent working at the elite desk? I cannot understand it when hotels believe it is a good idea to use a trainee to check in elite members.
6. If hotel has a club lounge, is it staffed and can elite members check in there? Many hotels have staff members working in the lounge where eligible guests can check in.
7. Are elite benefits clearly communicated or just copy/pasted from the brand standards manual?
8. Does the hotel provide only the bare minimum (or not even that) required or do they go the extra mile?
Elite members are important for hotels because their stay frequency is much higher and overall spending outweighs those of non-direct bookers. Also, these are the lowest cost bookings for any single hotel to acquire over OTA’s that charge 15% to 25% plus any possible advertising required on an OTA platform.
Why do we book directly? For the elite benefits and later for burning the points earned for free stays, often at leisure destinations. If hotels stop providing meaningful elite benefits and a competitive rewards program, why would we book directly? We would instead book via OTAs who nowadays have their own points based programs (e.g. 10th night free).
I believe that hotel companies over-estimate how loyal elite members are and how much abuse they will take (think of Marriott).
I am not sure why hotels believe that they can fly a brand flag without meeting the brand requirements or providing the elite member benefits? If they hate providing benefits or award nights, they can always de-flag and go independent to see how that will works out for them.
It is probably not the wisest choice for Hilton Honors to offer their top tier elite member status for certain credit card holders. Good hotels, however, do distinguish between credit card and real Diamond members and treat them accordingly when it comes to upgrades.
Had I been in the process of booking this hotel for a stay in Hawaii and if I had seen the disturbing no-upgrades message, I would have simply have chosen to book and stay at another property. That type of message, to me at least, implies mediocre elite member treatment.
I am not sure if they are a Hilton employee or working for a hotel at all. If they are, I would advise them that perhaps some other career might be appropriate.