I'm giving Hilton an honest opportunity to reclaim a large percentage of my business. I was just comp'ed Gold with the usual 90 day, 21-stay challenge for Diamond which will be no real challenge at all. As Lifetime Platinum is secured and renewal of Platinum on its own is already covered (although PP is obviously at risk, but who'd notice?), I can focus on what Hilton offers me at the functionally equivalent level.
I was granted Gold mid-stay in Charlotte, my profile and the front desk were brought up to date overnight (and I was offered a move to an Executive floor room, which I declined), so next week at the HGI in Scottsdale will be the first real "test".
I'm not giving up on Marriott, just taking an opportunity to evaluate the relative merits side-to-side, or Diamond to Platinum, if you prefer. One thing that will be part of the new reality is that there will be no Courtyards for the remainder of this year at the very least, unless that is the only Marriott property with no Hiltons in reasonable distance. Some trips will include both, others will be exclusively one or the other; all brands (other than the now-accursed CY) will be used to gauge who gets the majority—or all—of my business beginning in 2014.
I can now understand the hold on travelers that loyalty programs have; moving even the smallest part of your business is a substantial decision on our part, and they're counting on that, knowing that we will endure the known substandard product out of comfort and familiarity rather than risk upset learning a new way, a new look, and new program rules. I'm done playing the fool for someone else's marketing department, no longer the presumptive 125+ room night cha-ching in the annual revenue goals. You now have to compete (again) for my dollar, my word-of-mouth recommendation, and my loyalty. The days of taking me for granted as a lifelong, diehard customer are most assuredly over. Fool me once, and all that.
Now if I can just find the Hilton Insiders forum...
Last year I was 5 nts short of Gold in Hilton. With limited time to be away and funds, I decided to go for MegaBonus stays instead. Hilton's promotions tend to be double or triple points for participating hotels and I found that many that I stayed at did not participate. Now with what Marriott did, I wish I had gone the other way. I do have a 5 night stay with Hilton in April but this is nothing in trying to earn gold. Most of my other stays are planned with Marriott. Now the question, will I change some?
The beauty of having status with Hilton is the ability to choose breakfast as your bonus at HGI. You'd think Marriott would figure that out for CY, but no. And the beds at HGI properties rock, being adjustable, while at the CY you might still find one of those with the 3" mattress.
Enjoy your escape. You might look at giving Starwood a shot to, especially if you fly Delta since they just started their crossover program.
I to am going to give Hilton a try. There was no way that I would be able to get Gold on nights, in a reasonable time, so I signed up for the Citi Hilton Reserve card to replace my 2nd Marriott Visa business card that gets me nothing. The Citi Reserve gives you Gold as long as you own the card, but does have a $95 annual fee. I think the freebies will cover the annual cost. I picked-up the AMEX SPG card last November so I could start getting credit for all my Costco purchases. I do not perceive that Starwood will compete with Marriott and Hilton for my hotel business, but I can turn the points into airline miles with a 20+ adder from Starwood. I am fully aware that on Feb. 13 Hilton did their own devaluation. The troops were not happy.
On our last business trip my boss agree to stay at the CY near the office to take advantage of the Fall Special, and then stayed at a FFI in VA while looking at colleges with his son. He said normally he would have stayed at Hampton Inn as his kids prefer it caus ethey have a hot breakfast buffet.
Will touch base with him to see if he has continued to use Hampton or has switched over to Marriott to get the cat 1-4 certificates. Will be interesting to see how it looks through the eyes of a Hilton person.
This is why I think I am going to investigate the independents like I use to before Marriott. If its reasonable enough, then all the benefits become an nonissue.
These chains seem to think they are the only choice, either them or their competition and this is all they are looking at when they collecting data for their price analysis. But I know lots of folks that use rentals when traveling, especially in London and NYC where the cost of hotel rooms is so high, when you have long term stays.
Has anyone tried any of the boutique hotels lately in the US? Most my experience with them is overseas. Just curious what exists, and if anyone has experience with them.
Found a couple of interesting links and was looking specially at NYC to compare with chain options
So, this week is at the HGI Scottsdale. A little worn, probably one of the originals, but still a full dining room, and a separately labeled full bar. The room itself is along the lines of an older CY, nothing special but still perfectly serviceable.
I'm here for our annual User's Conference at the Doubletree up the road a mile or so. That property is also fairly dated, but still nice given the region, specific locale, and purpose (it's a resort property mostly).
So, like there are CY's and Ren's we wonder if there's been much attention paid to, the same applies to Hilton's properties, but I'm seeming to get better attention and general service attitude—as a "mere" Gold—than at most Marriotts as a PP. I'd score this one as pretty even, slight advantage to the HGI for still offering a full variety of services at a tremendous value.
Another comparison: Last summer there was a FSM and an Embassy suites in the same area of Colorado Springs and both the same price. I was staying 2 nights. I chose the ES because they gave a free breakfast and the Marriott didn't because it was a Sat nt. The Embassy was warn to the point of discomfort. It looked like it hadn't been renovated for many, many years. Even though I hate to move, I moved to the Marriott and it was sooooo much nicer and the CL was open the following morning. If I had to do it over, I would just have stayed at the Marriott and paid for the breakfast.
Many of the Hiltons are older and not always renovated.
Thanx for the reminder on ES.
Haven't stayed there in awhile, but the few stays I had were enjoyable.
ES was a preferred provider for government as their government rate was lowest, and they included breakfast so travel never allowed any meal charges for breakfast, only lunch & dinner.
jk - Sounds like you had written my comment as the removal of free coffee from the lobby was enough for me to switch to HGI. For those who wish to know if the grass is greener - it definitely is. In my first four weeks of staying at HGI, I can report the following:
I am glad I made the switch not to mention, the HGI beat my negotiated rate I had at the nearby CY by $6 a night.
Just read your bio involving what appears to be long stays in your travel schedule. it seems to be easy for this type of schedule to "jump in" and build influence at any chain at any time. I'm not sure that I see the relevance of your situation to most travelers. I am sorry if I have misread this. But good luck with Hilton.
I think if you look at the bio's of the other regulars here (and most of them are more involved with this site than am I) you'll note that the majority are of the fairly extensive travel type. Mostly Platinum or Premier, many Lifetimes, and multiple 100-plus night years with Marriott. My commentary isn't for "most" travelers, as they aren't usually found here on a regular basis, but those of us that spend much of our lives in the box, and are always looking for our best option for service in exchange for loyalty.
UPDATE: All of the previous bullet points are still valid. The only thing I had to change was credit card - my "Hilton Blue AMEX" card charges foreign transaction fees, so I opted for the "Hilton Citi VISA" where the annual fee is $65 but the poiints earned are even more than the free AMEX.
Pleasant surprise: The Courtyard had approximately 25 TV channels including 4 I never watched (Canadian "CSPAN", OWN, Hearing Impared, etc.). At the HIG, I now have 45 channels including FOX NEWS! The CY did not have Fox and I had asked the manager within the first few weeks of staying there if they would try to get subscribed; answer - "We have a package and cannot make any changes."
Thus far since switching to Hilton, I have spent 13 weeks (65 days) and have earned just over 330,000 Hilton points between VISA, Base, 50% base bonus, Double Dip, and MyWay Preferences.
Just a quick catching up, and I see the entire brand and elite recognition are circling down the toilet. I'm on track for 155 nights at a minimum for the year, and it looks like the bulk of them are going to be Hilton now. I'm still deciding if I want to commit to the 45,00 points for Marriott this cycle, not that it makes much difference any more. Marriott's yanking of the Platinum Arrival Gift at FS properties may just be the final straw for me. A continental brekkie that I'm already on a plane before serving or a $10 coupon that won't cover a single glass of wine at the bar? Arne, you need to quit letting accountants play hoteliers, it's gonna kill you guys.
Completely true. I have no false beliefs on who will "win", but my money won't be supporting that effort. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me that they'd prefer I (and other "lifers" like myself) just disappear so they can create a new group of Marriott loyalists that are starting with lower expectations of service and treatment than many of us have grown quite comfortable with. Believe me, corporate finance types definitely think that way.
A quick update, campers.
In Chicago this week, starting with the Embassy Suites Lakefront. Being a downtown/convention oriented hotel, the crowds are a bit tiring, but any Marriott experiences the same issues in similar circumstances. The FREE made-to-order breakfast (or FREE buffet if you're in a hurry) are terrific. Granted, the food quality isn't four-star, but one shouldn't expect it to be. The evening Manager's reception (every night) with complimentary beer, wine, and cocktails is definitely welcome. The snacks that accompany are a bit weak (chips/salsa/crackers/dip), but I think that hot hors d'oeuvres are a bit much to ask given the volume of guests. The specific property is a bit trendy, and maybe a little sterile, but it's downtown Chicago, so that's to be expected.
After two nights there, I switched to the Hilton on South Michigan. It was about a twelve-hour advance notice on the reservation, there's a large medical convention in the hotel, and they still put me in an upper floor lake view room as a (newly-comped) Gold. As anticipated, free internet and access to the Executive Lounge. The EL compared to a Marriott CL is pretty much apples to apples, the main difference being this particular lounge is on the small side, so the morning & evening offerings aren't as broad as typical (only a Continental breakfast, for example). The main property is fairly extensive, plenty of dining, drinking, shopping, and personal service options all on the lobby level. (For you single-malt fans out there, Macallan 18 is only $26 at the lobby bar. Surprisingly reasonable given how much I've seen that go for in lesser properties.)
The staff's attentiveness in both properties has been right up there (as it should be), nary a misstep or hiccup. All in all, no disappointments, just differences in flavor, if you will. Next week will be a better comparison, including a Homewood Suites in Columbus and a Hampton in Dayton. Pretty sure I know how I'll feel about the latter already.
Off the road this week, and good thing, too. I've managed to throw my back—twice—in the last few days, so the usual drill of planes, trains, and automobiles would be excruciating. Well, more than normal, anyway.
The last couple stays were at a Homewood Suites in Dayton and a Hampton in Columbus. The Homewood is positioned against Residence Inn, and is nearly identical in many respects. However, it (or at least the property I stayed at) seemed to be a bit fresher than most of the RI's I've stayed at in the last several years. It's not a new property, and didn't seem to be recently refreshed, but had a sense of being well-cared for and maintained, where most of the RI's—while still perfectly acceptable—seem a bit shabby by comparison. Maybe it was the quality of fixtures, decor, or something else altogether, but it just felt like a nicer property overall. There was the usual morning & evening meals, but the breakfast offering was above what RI's have been providing lately (the faux egg discs with matching sausage patties), being more or less real hot breakfast food. Evenings were about the same as anything I'd expect at an RI.
The Hampton was, well, a Hampton. They are always a **** shoot, but this one was fairly new, and consequently pretty decent. Think modern CY sans Bistro. The room itself was quite large, somewhat oddly laid out but still quite nice. What I noted about it is it wasn't lathered with a garish color scheme (like orange and green), but rather more subtle, adult tones. You know, a place for grown-ups.
So far, if I had to give comparative grading, I would have to give Hilton a slight edge over Marriott. Keep in mind this is based on a very limited sampling, but given the near-random luck we have on the road, I'd have to say that the Hilton brands are more than competitive than their Marriott counterparts, market for market. My treatment and recognition as a Gold with them has been uniformly more positive as a PP with Marriott, which is more troublesome to me as a Marriott loyalist than anything else. The relative matchup of the programs themselves is still too vague for me to grade; I haven't had too much of an opportunity to delve into Hhonors, so that will have to wait for most of this travel season until I have a better chance to explore (and exploit) it.
Next up: HGI's in West Lafayette and at IND. I'm hoping it's a split of new & old there to see how much they've tried to keep them fairly equal. After that, it's an RI in NOLA.
Thanx jkernitzki for an excellent comparison.
Have not stayed at Hilton for some time. Your description of Hampton is very close to what my boss was saying about it, and why his kids preferred Hamptom (when on the road with 3 kids looking a colleges since one is college age, space in the room and food is what they want).
I also find your comments on property age interesting. I have noticed a huge difference between SHS new properites where I really like the interior design with modern furniture, pocket doors, euro bathroom layout and soothing blue and green colors, while the aged SHS in Philly I really did not care for as much and probably would not rebook though there was nothing per se wrong with it other than old furniture, dark red colors, small breakfast room so no seating, etc.
Same is true of RI, the new ones in NJ & WDC are great, the older one in FL not so much, more like the SHS in Philly.
Like Arnold Horshack, ooh, ooh, ooh, I know the answer to this one; they listen, but respond based on what's in their best interest, understandably so. You will find a lot of Insider discussions are over the differing viewpoints of how those interests are best achieved (others are about terrific travel ideas). Welcome aboard. If you sense a lack of "pick up the pitchforks and storm the castle" energy, it's because Marriott has worn us down, but we're with you in spirit. Go man, go.
And to jk - Hello Big John, say hello to dejamo over there on "The Dark Side".
love the welcome back kotter ref. I am of the age that I remember the original broadcast, very proud b/c I was born and raised in Brooklyn (8th largest City in the world), and remember that sign coming off the VZ bridge onto the Belt Parkway since I got to see it way too often on the way home from seeing relatives in NJ. As to the view that Marriott execs really read the posts, I have my doubts, but since they dont respond and changes seem to be effected in a glacially slow manner, its really tough to tell what they read, what they think and how they make decisions. I have said it in other posts, I am on track to be life plat by the end of 2013 (its a 750 nights issue, way over on point requirements), so I will re evaluate once I achieve that milestone. I am still a few years away from retirement, and I I still travel for work, and my company allows Marriott or Starwood as my choice. I have not voluntarily stayed at a Starwood in many years (ex company conferences where it was the only choice) due to being treated really badly over 15 years ago in a string of stays at Sheraton and Westin properties spread over the US continent(it wasnt just one property, it seemed like they all drank funky juice and decided to mess with the customers for months on end). I will wait and see what Marriott does, and if the 135K points for $1,000 certs doesnt come back, then 2014 may be a whole new year for my travel choices, since I can do a challenge with Starwood and meet it with no problem.Just my 2 cents worth and hope Marriott exec really do read these posts because they can learn allot of the sentiment and get a true feel for the views of the most loyal members they have.