Using AviancaTaca LifeMiles for Hilton Hotel Stays

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AviancaTaca’s LifeMiles has a new partnership with Hilton HHonors that allows you to book Hilton hotels using your award miles. You can access this offer here.

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You need to use your LifeMiles account number and password to log in into Hilton’s website where you can see the number of miles required for your stay. I tried accessing the site using both Chrome and FireFox browsers but the site was not functional. It seems to work better using Internet Exploder, however.

My Hotel Program Strategy for 2013

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The number of hotel nights that I have stayed at the hotels yearly hasn’t really fluctuated for close to ten years (as I have been living out of them). The hotel chains that I have frequented, however, has changed from year to year.

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At the top tier level, the hotel chains are interchangeable. What matters to me most, are the quality of the promotions that the hotel chain is offering i.e. if someone is running an unlimited free night promotions, I will move all of my stays for the promotional period there.

Top Hotel Promotions for January 2013

It is somewhat slim picking right now. Marriott’s previous MegaBonus has run out and the new one is about to start next month. There is nothing out from Hyatt.

1. SPG Power Up + Le Meridien Bonus (North America) + Air Canada Aeroplan bonus (Canada)

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You can make a bundle with Starwood if you can take advantage of the Power Up and Le Meridien promotions that Starwood is running concurrently. Also, there is additional bonus for Aeroplan miles for stays in Canada. For maximizing these three bonuses, you need to stay at the Le Meridien hotel in Montreal!

Hilton Any Weekend Anywhere Flash Sale 2500 Bonus Points

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Hilton HHonors is offering 2500 bonus Hilton HHonors points for Any Weekend Anywhere bookings made between 11AM EST on January 16 and 10:59AM EST on January 17, 2013, through Hilton’s Facebook app for this promotion.

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This promotion is maxed at 10K bonus Hilton HHonors points per member. You need to input your Hilton HHonors number and the booking confirmation number on Hilton’s Facebook app to be eligible for the bonus points that will post after completion of the stay.

Reminder to Be Diligent About (Fake) Messages from Hotels & Airlines

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Back in July, I wrote about an email that appeared to be coming from American Airlines that was merely an phishing attempt to get access to your AAdvantage account. Today, I received a direct message on Twitter from Hilton Narita with a link supposedly to a photo.

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This message came via email and I could access it on LoyaltyLobby’s Twitter direct messages.

Fast Track to Hilton HHonors Gold Status – Only Four Stays Required

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Hilton HHonors Gold status is the bets mid level hotel status that gets you free internet access and executive lounge access/complimentary breakfast on all stays. Upgrade to executive level room for Gold members is based on availability.

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You need to complete 4 stays within 90 days after registering for this promotion. The Gold status will be valid until the end of 2014 per the terms and conditions of this offer (likely until March 2015).

January Hotel Promotions Update

January 2013 has kicked in and all the others have already launched their promotions besides Accor, Hyatt & Ritz-Carlton.

You can get cash back for most of your hotel bookings and you can read more about it here: Cashback for Your Hotel and Travel Bookings.

If I have missed any hotel points promotions, just leave a message below or send me an email to john@loyaltylobby.com.

Accor Hotels / Le Club Accorhotels

There are currently no global promotions for extra Le Club Accorhotels points.

You can get instants Le Club Accorhotels Platinum status:

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Accor A-Club / Le Club Accorhotels Platinum Status for New Accounts (and Old Ones Too)

Summary of Pros and Cons of Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group/Priority Club, Marriott & Starwood Preferred Guest

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In the past month, I wrote extensive articles about the good and not so good things about Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group/Priority Club, Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest. I just went back and did some small changes to them based on the feedback that I have received and what else have come to my mind.

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I got some requests to do similar write ups about some other programs  such as Le Club Accorhotels and Club Carlson. Unfortunately, I have not had nowhere near as many nights with these two chains as I have any of the above five of which I have spent anywhere between 300 to 700 nights each.

What do you especially LIKE or DISLIKE about any of these five hotel chains and/or their loyalty programs? Leave you comments below.

Hilton Points & Money Rewards

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Hilton introduced Points & Money awards last year. These are similar to SPG’s Cash & Points. Hotels can decide whether they participate to this award type and the availability can fluctuate a lot. Obviously, hotels don’t offer this award type if they are close to capacity. You can consider it as an intelligent way of discounting.

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Hilton used to have a list by categories the number of points and cash required for a free night. This was later removed, however, and the point and cash amount is no longer tied to the category.

Hilton HHonors Double Your HHonors – Double Points or Miles from January 7 to March 31, 2013

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Hilton HHonors has now opened the registration for their first quarter 2013 Double Your HHonors promotion that I already wrote about couple of weeks ago. You can earn either double Hilton HHonors points or double airline miles during the promotion period. You can access Hilton’s web page for this promotion here.

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Note that you have to choose between earning double Hilton HHonors points or double airline miles during the promotional period. You cannot change your selection once you have registered, so you should choose wisely.

Update On: Hilton Friends & Family Offer for 50% Off Between December 14 to January 7 – Stays Posting Just Fine

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Sunday last week, I wrote about a new public Friends & Family Thank You Offer from Hilton HHonors that is open for all and is eligible for both the stay/night credit & for points. This rate is valid for stays between December 14 and January 7, 2013.

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This rate returns some truly exceptional rates at many Hilton properties like 2400 THB for Millennium Hilton, 2900 THB Conrad, and 1900 for Conrad Residences all these in Bangkok. The savings are similar at many other Hilton family of hotels that have availability.

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Once I posted this piece, it spread to quite a few other blogs and internet forums as well. There has been lot of skepticism, whether rate this low would earn points and/or stay credit? I would have posted a warning had I thought that there is a chance the rate would not earn points or hadn’t been a public one.

There was couple of messages left about this rate for the comments section of my previous piece that I would like to clarify:

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The problem calling a customer service regarding a rate like this is that when the person answering the phone just sees a “Friends & Family”, they immediately think that the rate is an internal one. The REAL Friends & Family rate does earn a stay credit but won’t earn any points.

You can call and ask about a promotion like this and likely you will receive 5 different answers over 4 phone calls. Sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense to call and trying to clarify things. The telephone customer service isn’t Hilton’s strongest point.

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Of course, something like this is incorrect as well. Everyone can easily read the rate requirements. This was and still is a public rate.

Completed stay over the weekend with points & nights/stay credit

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Friend of mine just had a two night stay, over the weekend, booked under this rate at the Conrad property in Bangkok. The stay posted just fine within 24 hours after checkout with correct points/miles & stay/night credit. It does say pending, but the points have been added to the balance and the stay/night credit added to the yearly total as well.

Why hotels are offering such a low prices over the holidays?

This is absolutely the slowest time of the year for business travel that obviously drops off completely just before Christmas and week after the New Year. You can often find the lowest price of the year during this time period for business hotels. The rate is blocked on the New Year ’s Eve.

I think that it is a smart strategy for Hilton trying to rack up at much business during this time period by having an unannounced Friends & Family sale at mostly empty hotels.

Conclusion

You can always drop me an email (john@loyaltylobby.com) or leave a comment, if you think that the information that I have posted on LoyaltyLobby is incorrect.

I won’t post information that I think may not be right or, if it is iffy, I post it with big disclaimers. There was no doubt in my mind at any point that this rate 1. Wouldn’t be public and 2. Wouldn’t qualify for points and stay credit.

Happy bookings using this Thank You Family & Friends Thank You-offer and enjoy great savings at Hilton properties over the next couple of weeks.

Pros and Cons of Hilton HHonors

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This is the first on series that will go through the pros and cons of the major hotel programs based on my personal experience. Over the past ten years, I have had somewhere between 250 to 300 nights at Hilton properties worldwide and have obviously learned quite a bit of the program along the way.

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Overall, I think that Hilton has a solid program, but it takes a long time to get your points up to a level that makes it sense to redeem.

What do you think that are strengths and weaknesses of the Hilton’s program? Leave your opinions below.

Pros

– Quick email turnaround time

– Stays rarely post incorrectly

– Number of properties in the United States

– Nice mix of brands

– Reasonably priced awards at high end properties when staying for 6 nights or longer and AXON awards

– Double Dipping with airlines

– The number of partner airlines

– Breakfast

– Never ending promotions

– Hilton Guest Assistance

– Many discount programs i.e. MVP, Corporate Benefits Employee Offer, Little League, Europe Government

– Best mid-level elite status Hilton Gold

– Diamond treatment at properties in Asia

– Nice mix of properties: Hampton Inn/HGI vs DoubleTree/Hilton vs Conrad/WA

– Promotions to get Gold status

– Benefits usually honored on third party bookings & opaque stays (Priceline/Hotwire)

– Awards types

– Stay/night credit for award stays

– Points & Money Awards

– Awards at Aspirational locations such as French Polynesia & Maldives

Cons

– Diamond desk can be less than helpful at times

– Overpriced awards in the lower end properties

– Somewhat confusing brands Hilton vs DoubleTree. What makes Waldorf-Astoria?

– Inconsistency within a brand i.e. Hilton

– Diamond benefit inconsistency

– Somewhat lacking international presence i.e. China

– Quite a few dated properties

– Missing a hip brand

– No cash back for hotel bookings

– Missing on some markets – international presence not that great

– Budget brand missing

– Dull properties

– Very few benefits of being Diamond over Gold

– Lack of lifetime status

– No real social media representatives

Positives of Hilton HHonors

Quick email turnaround time

I have found out that Hilton is one of the better companies at replying to emails that I have sent them. The reply usually comes within few hours of sending it. They also don’t force you to use a web form but you can just use a regular email address i.e. gold@hilton.com or diamond@hilton.com.

Stays rarely post incorrectly

Hilton has been very good for posting stays and points correctly. I rarely have to remind them about a missing stay or points that have not been posted. Even then, I don’t have to fax/email them a folio, but they can see the revenue amount on their system.

Number of properties in the United States

Hilton has a very good coverage within the United States. It has a properties in most of the smaller markets as well. You can almost always find a brand within a Hilton portfolio like Hampton Inn that is geared towards the smaller markets.

Nice mix of brands: Hampton Inn/HGI vs DoubleTree/Hilton vs Conrad/WA

Hilton has a nice mix of brands from luxury to lower end.

Hilton has Conrad and Waldorf Astoria on the high end.

Hilton, DoubleTree, and Embassy Suites on the middle.

Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites on the lower end.

Reasonably priced awards at high end properties when staying for 6 nights or longer and AXON awards

The awards at the very high end properties when staying for multiple nights are very competitively priced. There are properties like Conrad Maldives, properties in Seychelles or French Polynesia that are very good deal using Hilton points.

Double Dipping with airlines

Hilton is the only program that you can always earn both points and airline miles on the same stay – ALWAYS.

This double dipping is somewhat difficult to understand, however, and the default option by Hilton HHonors is points + points. It doesn’t help that if you choose miles you then need to choose between fixed or variable miles and that not all the airlines participate to both.

The number of partner airlines

The number of partner airlines for double dipping is extensive. The only one that is missing is the Southwest.

Breakfast

Breakfast is one the strengths of Hilton HHonors program. You will have continental breakfast from Gold upwards. There are only very few limitations mainly at Waldorf Astoria properties.

Never ending promotions

Hilton has always number of rate and airline related promotions going. It is sometimes difficult to keep track on them.

Hilton Guest Assitance

Not all the stays are perfect and sometimes they might be even disastrous. One of the strengths is the Hilton’s Guest Assistance program. If the hotel screws up and don’t fix the post stay issue, the Guest Assistance will issue a Be my Guest certificate that you can then use to pay for any Hilton property and the offending property gets charged for it.

Many discount programs i.e. MVP, Corporate Benefits Employee Offer, Little League, Europe Government

You can use several discount plans to make the Hilton stays affordable. I have mainly used the Corporate Benefits Employee offer, but there are others available as well.

Best mid-level elite status Hilton Gold

The Hilton HHonors Gold status is very easy to get through numerous promotions and fast track offers that I have also written about here. The Gold status will get you a complimentary internet access and breakfast and/or Club lounge access.

Diamond treatment at properties in Asia

All the hotel chains tend to have their top tier treatment at a different level in Asia and the Hilton is no different. I have been very satisfied with the treatment of me as a Diamond member at Hilton family of hotels in Asia.

Promotions to get Gold status

Getting gold status is easy with Hilton. There are normally airline related bonus offers or open fast track offers for Gold only for handful of stays.

Benefits usually honored on third party bookings & opaque stays (Priceline/Hotwire)

You don’t (normally) get stay credit or points for a stay booked through a third party site or opaque channel like Priceline/Hotwire. You do, however, receive the benefits associated with the status.

Award types

Hilton has VIP awards, AXON, regular, premium room awards & points and money awards. Depending of the length of your stay and property, the best award can often differ. There has been times when the premium room rewards have been cheaper than regular ones. Also, the recently launched points & money awards are sometimes very good value.

Stay/night credit for award stays

Hilton doesn’t penalize you for staying using awards. You will get points for the incidental spend and you will receive a stay/night credit as well that counts for qualifying for status.

Points & Money Awards

Hilton introduced Points & Money awards in 2012 that allowed you to pay party in cash and party points for your award stay. These are sometimes very good value and stretches your points further.

Awards at Aspirational locations such as French Polynesia & Maldives

Hilton hasn’t started (yet) to charge extra for non-standard accommodation, so award stays in places like Maldives & French Polynesia are actually CHEAP compared to i.e. Starwood. The number of points that you need per night is around 50K but it comes down to 37500, when you do multiple night VIP award.

Negatives of Hilton HHonors

Diamond desk can be less than helpful at times

I have received sometimes very mixed service when calling Hilton’s Diamond line. As a matter of fact, I am no longer sure if they have one. Customer service agents that are less than helpful and that don’t often sound very professional.

Overpriced awards in the lower end properties

Hilton’s strength is NOT awards at your bed & butter Hilton locations over the weekend. You are far better off for paying for these and then redeeming for a grand vacation in Maldives instead.

Somewhat confusing brands i.e. Hilton vs DoubleTree? What makes Waldorf-Astoria?

All the hotel chains have this same problem. There are DoubleTree hotels that are better than Hilton’s, although they are supposed to be step below. Also, Hilton has somewhat misused the great Waldorf-Astoria brand and started to slap it to number of so so properties. i.e. Naples in Florida.

Inconsistency within a brand i.e. Hilton

What is a Hilton? There are likely Hilton’s that should be Hampton Inns. Most of the time you know what to expect when booking a Hilton hotel, but there are duds out there as well.

Diamond benefit inconsistency

This is greater problem in the North America and to some extend Europe probably because they get a greater share of Diamond guests. Some hotels go above and beyond what is required by the program while others do the absolute minimum required by the brand. It always makes me wonder why some hotels are keen to fly the flag but unable to deliver the benefits?

Somewhat lacking international presence i.e. China

Hilton’s main strength on the coverage wise is the North American market. The chain has quite limited presence in markets like Asia.

Quite a few dated properties

Hilton has the same problem as Marriott. Some of the brand line up is getting tired and need to be either fixed or dropped.

Missing a hip brand like W or Andaz

Hilton doesn’t have an exciting lifestyle hotel brand like Starwood’s  or Hyatt’s Andaz. As a matter of fact, Hilton recruited team from Starwood that had been working on the W concept but the court intervened.

No cashback for hotel bookings

Some chains are offering cashback for bookings that you make by clicking through their affiliate links but Hilton is not participating to these.

Budget brand missing

Some can argue that the Hampton Inn brand that started as a budget one has increased to be quite expensive in some markets. Hilton is missing a true budget brand like Motel 6 (that Hilton’s parent recently bought) or Marriott’s Fairfield Inn.

Dull properties

You cannot say that any of Hilton’s current brands would be exciting or that you really could be proud of staying at them.

Very few benefits of being Diamond over Gold

Hilton has the best mid-level status and the benefits being Diamond over Gold are not that great. Diamond mainly helps potentially with better upgrades, problem resolution and on-property exceptions like early check ins/late check outs.

Lack of lifetime status

Marriott, Starwood and Hyatt all have published qualifications for lifetime status in each of their programs that is typically tied to number of years, number of stays, and/or amount of points earned/money spent.

No real social media representatives

Hilton doesn’t seem to have real social media team. They might have someone from marketing posting about promotions usually after every body knows about them.

Conclusion

I have had an overall good experience with Hilton HHonors.  Some years, I have quite a high number of stays and the following year can hardly qualify. Hilton had extremely good promotions year ago on the fourth quarter, but not so in 2012.

British Airways Avios 25% Hotel Points Conversion Bonus

British Airways is offering 25% bonus for converting hotel points to Avios. This offer is valid until January 13. There is no need to register for this offer and you can read more about it here.

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You can convert points from Starwood, Club Carlson, Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, Priority Club, and Shangri-La’s programs into Avios.

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Conclusion

Airlines tend to intermittently run promotions for hotel point conversion to their miles. These offers tend to vary. Would I convert any of my hotel points to Avios due to getting 25% conversion bonus? I absolutely would not, but it doesn’t mean that this promotion could not work for you.

Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:

  • This promotion is only open to Eligible Participants. An eligible participant is a person aged 18 or over and is a British Airways Executive Club Member (“BAEC”) (membership terms and conditions apply) and is enrolled and registered with one of the hotel partner loyalty programmes. By taking part in this promotion, Eligible Participants confirm that they accept the Terms and Conditions below.

  • Eligible Participants can earn up to 25% Bonus Avios between 13 December 2012 and 13 January 2013 for any qualifying hotel loyalty points converted into Avios. BAEC members must enrol via the hotel property links provided on http://www.britishairways.com/travel/points-to-avios/public/

  • To convert your points, please contact the hotel whose points you wish to convert to Avios.

  • Taxes, fees and charges remain payable by the BAEC member.

  • Bonus Avios can take 4-6 weeks to show on your account from the date of conversion. Once they have been credited, you can start redeeming them for flights, hotels and Avis car hire.· Bonus Avios is non-redeemable for cash and non-reversible.

  • Bonus Avios is issued subject to the BAEC Terms and Conditions http://www.britishairways.com/travel/termcn/public/en_gb and all passengers and baggage are subject to the general terms and conditions of carriage.

  • Reward flights are subject to availability and capacity control and availability may be limited at peak times.

  • Hotel loyalty scheme membership, and earning and redemption of points are subject to the Terms and Conditions of each specific hotel’s loyalty scheme in addition to British Airways Terms and Conditions, as applicable.

  • This promotion cannot be used in conjunction with any other British Airways offers or promotion.

  • Promoter reserves the right to withdraw the promotion or amend these terms and conditions without prior notice at any time, for whatever reason, and without any liability to customers for doing so.

  • This promotion shall be governed by the laws of England & Wales and the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts.

  • This promotion is provided by British Airways Plc Waterside, PO Box 365, Harmondsworth, UB7 0GB. Registered No. 1777777 England

Hilton Friends & Family Offer for 50% Off Between December 14 to January 7 – Excellent rates

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Hilton has a public Friends and Family offer for travel between December 14 and January 7, 2013. The rate does qualify for points and stay credit. You can access this offer here.

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The discount varies by the brand:

Save 50% at these participating hotels and resorts:
-Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites, and Hilton Grand Vacations

Save 30% at these participating hotels and resorts:
– Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton, Homewood Suites, and Home2 Suites

This promotion returns exceptional rates at many properties:

Conrad Bangkok

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I have never seen a rate as low as 2900 THB per night for this Conrad hotel.

Conrad Singapore

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The rate for the Conrad for the date I was looking at was 162 SGD.

Hilton Narita

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I sometimes stay at the Hilton Narita if I have an overnight transit in Tokyo or if I am arriving very late or have an early departure. The rate of 4000 yen is the lowest I have ever seen for this property as well.

Conrad New York

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The rates in New York are really low using this rate as well. Conrad New York for $144?

Conclusion

This appears to be a genuine offer for 50% discount off of the BAR. It returns some exceptionally good rates. The offer is also eligible for stay credit and points per the terms and conditions of this offer.

Business travel is very slow at the both sides of Christmas and New Years. It makes sense for hotels to discount to keep the occupancy rates up.

Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:

Thank You Rate is valid at participating hotels worldwide for stays booked between December 5, 2012 and January 7, 2013, and completed between December 14, 2012 and January 7, 2013. Rates are subject to availability and are not available on December 31, 2012. Be sure to review the hotel’s cancellation/change policy at time of booking. This offer may not be combined with other select promotions, offer or discounts and is not valid for existing reservations or groups. All reservations for this rate must be made on the website

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