Discount Rate to Stop Clicking Around? Not Exactly…
M embers of the Hilton HHonors frequent guest loyalty program can now receive an exclusive discount on room rates through “Stop Clicking Around” — the largest marketing campaign ever launched by Hilton Worldwide in its history of 97 years — by booking directly through the official Internet web sites of its brands; the mobile application software program of Hilton HHonors; its reservation call centers; or through preferred corporate travel partners and approved travel agents.
This guaranteed discount is available at greater than 4,500 hotel and resort properties around the world— but it is not available at hotel and resort properties in mainland China, Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
This special discounted rate was originally available starting back in October of 2015 for select hotel and resort properties in New York, Miami, Houston and San Diego — depending on the time of the booking and the dates of stay — in what apparently was a pilot version of this marketing campaign.
The exclusive discount is being offered to reward members of the Hilton HHonors frequent guest loyalty program who book reservations direct with an exclusive discounted rate, instant benefits, and more personalized service. “Last year, 57 billion Hilton HHonors Points — or more than 1.6 million free nights — went unearned because guests booked their stay through a third party,” said Mark Weinstein, who is the global head of customer engagement, loyalty and partnerships at Hilton Worldwide. “There is a huge misconception that third parties always offer lower prices for our hotel rooms, which is simply not true.”
Geraldine Calpin — who is the chief marketing officer at Hilton Worldwide — said that “Our customers don’t need to worry about sorting through a dizzying array of websites, enduring hundreds of clicks and wasting hours of time. They can be assured that booking a room directly with us at any of our hotels doesn’t require extensive searching and price checking to find the best prices online.”
All members of the Hilton HHonors frequent guest loyalty program who book directly through Hilton can save time and money — as well as gain instant access to the benefits they care about most:
- Exclusive discount: Members of the Hilton HHonors frequent guest loyalty program can now take advantage of an exclusive discount which cannot be found anywhere else, as long as they book directly through Hilton, at more than 4,500 hotel and resort properties around the world
- Instant benefits: All members get to enjoy such benefits as free Wi-Fi access; popular digital tools like digital check-in with room selection and Digital Key; and the ability to earn and redeem Hilton HHonors points for free nights
- Unforgettable, exclusive experiences: Booking direct opens the door to exclusive events, like Live Nation concerts or private dining experiences
- Loyalty rewarded with more personalized service: Members of the Hilton HHonors frequent guest loyalty program who book direct can better share their preferences with the hotel for a stay tailored to their requests
This Discount is Great — Right?
Initially, an automatic discount for members of the Hilton HHonors frequent guest loyalty program would be welcomed with open arms — but there are some caveats about which you should know.
The discount varies, as you get a discount on the best available or easy cancellation rate — which is a specific rate type that varies depending on time of purchase; is unrestricted; non-qualified; and excludes discount rates — of:
- Two percent for reservations booked within 14 days of arrival, for stays seven days per week
- Three percent for reservations booked 15 days or greater prior to arrival, for stays Sunday through Thursday — or Saturday through Wednesday at hotel and resort properties in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, Egypt and Jordan
- Ten percent for reservations booked 15 days or greater prior to arrival, for stays Friday through Saturday — or Thursday through Friday at hotel and resort properties in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, Egypt and Jordan
I decided to test the discount rate with an upcoming reservation I had already booked at a room rate of $95.20 per night plus tax; or $109.48 including tax.
If I were to take advantage of the Stop Clicking Around discounted room rate — which in this particular example is a discount of ten percent of the easy cancellation rate — I would pay $125.00 per night plus tax; or $143.87 including tax. The discount rate is coincidentally the same room rate in this example as for those customers who are members of the American Automobile Association.
Terms and Conditions
The Stop Clicking Around discount rate is subject to availability at participating hotel and resort properties within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio. Early departure fees, deposit and cancellation restrictions may apply and vary by hotel or resort property. Unless otherwise stated, quoted rates are per room per night; based on single or double occupancy; and do not include taxes, gratuities, incidental charges and resort fees — if applicable.
This rate may not be combined with other select promotions, offers or discounts; and it is not valid for existing reservations or groups. The Stop Clicking Around discount rate is not transferrable or redeemable for cash; and it cannot be used during future stays.
Reaction by Frequent Travelers
While some FlyerTalk members welcomed the news, others had posted critical comments.
“I have stayed at the same hotel, 2-3 weeks per month, for the past 6 months. Every time, without fail, the room rate was $109. Regardless of day of the week, regardless of how far booked in advance, $109. Like clockwork.” FlyerTalk member aww3583 then implied that the room rates were “marked up” — only to be brought back down to their original prices in the guise of a discount: “I just looked at booking for my next two trips. The room rate is now $114 and the new HHonors discount brings it down to $111.”
The implication was confirmed by FlyerTalk member StayingHomeIsBetter: “CDG Hilton, in early July… Currently held reservation: 116 Euro. Base rate today: 129 Euro. With HH discount: 116 Euro.”
FlyerTalk member cblaisd checked a reservation again which he had for next month — and the new discount rate was not the least expensive. “$125 with the new discount; $103 with MVP rate.”
As for special rates affiliated with associations, FlyerTalk member sdsearch wonders, “For those of us who are AAA members (and/or AARP members), will this rate ever do us any good? AAA discount is typically 10% (and I think at least 5%), so unless the 3% is on top of that, it seems that AAA rate would always beat it.”
This marketing campaign has been referred as “industry game-changing news from Hilton” by a contact of mine who represents Hilton Worldwide; but Starwood Preferred Guest has been offering exclusive rates for its members since November of 2015 — albeit more restricted in that the rates must be purchased in advance with no refunds permitted. Although that offer from Starwood Preferred Guest is currently good through Saturday, December 31, 2016, I expect it to be extended — if only to compete with this similar promotion from Hilton HHonors.
The Stop Clicking Around marketing campaign may very well be a way for Hilton Worldwide to gain as much control over the buying experience of its customers in order to be able to sell additional options — such as upgrades, for example — during the process of booking a reservation. Simultaneously, Hilton Worldwide does not have to pay a commission to Internet travel agencies such as Orbitz and Expedia when a customer books a reservation directly through an authorized official channel of Hilton. I personally have no issue with that, as Hilton Worldwide has every right to do so as a business while presenting what could potentially be a win-win situation for the company and its customers — but let us be honest here.
As much as I laud Hilton Worldwide for introducing a special discount for members of its Hilton HHonors frequent guest loyalty program, do not automatically assume that you will get the lowest price if you use this discount room rate. There may be times where the Stop Clicking Around exclusive rate is indeed the lowest room rate; but you will only know by continuing to check around to find the best room rate whose terms and conditions are right for you — whether it is a corporate rate, a special rate through an association or other affiliated entity; or as the result of a sale.
Source: Hilton Worldwide.