EXCLUSIVE: Hilton Starts Selling Upgrades To Gold And Diamond Members

Hilton is making two changes to Honors Gold and Diamond upgrades. Starting today they will be selling upgrades through the app. Beginning November 18 they will process automatic complimentary upgrades at Hampton Inn and Hilton Garden Inn hotels with the technical ability for them to do so.

  • Digital check-in upsells for elites. Honors Gold and Diamond members are supposed to receive upgrades. However, while hotels are allowed to upgrade to suites they are not required to do so. That’s a more limited benefit than what’s offered by Marriott and Hyatt.

    Beginning today, paid upgrade offers that have been tested with base and silver members during digital check-in will be offered to Gold and Diamond members as well. As Hilton explained in an internal document reviewed by View From The Wing, “[t]his will offer Elite members the ability to choose a paid upgrade when they check-in via the mobile app.”

  • Complimentary upgrades at Hampton and Hilton Garden Inn properties. Officially these brands, along with Embassy Suites; Tru; Homewood Suits; Home2 Suites; Hilton Grand Vacations; and Motto, have been excluded from the upgrade benefit under Hilton’s terms and conditions, although some members do report upgrades nonetheless.

    The “Automated Upgrade surprise and delight offer” (which has been available at Luxury, Full Service and Lifestyle brands) will be extended to Hampton Inn and Hilton Garden Inn properties with the technical capability to implement them (those “that can support upgrades globally”) effective November 18. That’s when they will begin processing automated upgrades for arrivals starting November 21.

Four years ago Hilton tested confirmed suite upgrades for top elites, something even IHG now offers. But we didn’t see it roll out. Instead, and with these changes, Hilton is taking more of a direct monetization path.

Taken together, Hilton will be offering:

  • More upgrades to elites prior to check-in
  • And then “the option to choose a further paid upgrade (via Digital Check-in Upsell) when they select their room at time of check-in via the mobile app.”

Some competitor chains, of course, provide those ‘further upgrades’ complimentary rather than paid. However in tests Hilton tells owners that this approach is driving significant revenue,

  • Participating Full Service hotels saw 57% of incremental upsell revenue driven by Elite members.

  • Participating Hampton and Hilton Garden Inn hotels saw an increase of +14% in Hilton Honors Appreciation scores for those awarded an Automated Upgrade, compared to those not awarded.

  • Expansion of Upsell to Elite members is intended to drive incremental revenue into your hotels by offering more guests the ability to purchase an upgraded room via Digital Check-In.

In addition these changes are intended to save hotel labor costs (“drive efficiency for front desk staff”) by “encouraging use of Digital Check-In” and by “reduc[ing] the manual work required at the front desk” while “maximiz[ing] loyalty and revenue through customer choice and control.”

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