How to Use the PointsExplorer Tool From Hilton Honors
A new award travel planning tool called PointsExplorer was recently released by Hilton; and its purpose is to assist members of the Hilton Honors frequent guest loyalty program to find hotel and resort properties at which they can stay in exchange for redeeming a specific number of points per night.
How to Use the PointsExplorer Tool From Hilton Honors
Although striving to ensure that the information is as relevant as possible, it is important to acknowledge that the tool is not perfect. The data which is used in the PointsExplorer tool is not absolute data from Hilton Honors; but rather from members of the Hilton Honors frequent guest loyalty program who have booked reward stays during the past year.
“There is no gotcha — this is a true tool,” Brad Anderson — who is the director of Hilton Honors Program Strategy and Management — said via telephone. “We got a great reaction from team members. They travel, too.”
Anderson already hinted of a second and improved version of the PointsExplorer tool — but he first wants to see how Hilton Honors members use the tool and “let the customers take the lead” as to how the functionality of the tool can be improved. He wants communications to be open between Hilton Honors and its members for the most constructive feedback.
You will see in the examples later in this article that some hotel and resort properties listed have the phrase “Check availability to find lowest price” listed as the minimum points per night. Anderson clarified that “Minimum means no one has booked a room yet with total points.”
As of the time this article was written, “lowest points per night” is what members have booked at a particular hotel or resort property as of Friday, February 15, 2019. Current points per night may vary. Maximum points per night for a standard room is also as of Friday, February 15, 2019. All data is subject to change…
…but that information has already been updated at least once since this article was written on Wednesday, February 6, 2019.
The PointsExplorer tool is also meant to be “mobile first” and “friendly” to the user, according to Anderson.
For all examples, the default to which the PointsExplorer slider is set is 50,000 points.
How to Find Hotel Properties at 5,000 Points Per Night
To demonstrate how to find hotel properties with the maximum number of points you are “working with” per night, let us choose an easy option: 5,000 points per night.
Move the slider back to 5,000 points — which is the extreme left side of the slider — and then click on the blue SEARCH button.
You will see a selection of 241 hotel and resort properties. Forget for the most part that you will ever score either the Hilton Cabo Verde Sal Resort or Hilton Paris Opera for only 5,000 points per night…
…but they are inexplicably included in the list because the default setting for the hotel and resort properties with the maximum amount of points to be used is from high to low. Change the setting to instead be listed in order from low to high.
You will now see all of the hotel properties at which you can redeem as few as 5,000 points per night. To confirm that a hotel property indeed only requires 5,000 points per night, click on the blue CHECK AVAILABILITY button on the right of the hotel property.
One minor but irritating bug of the PointsExplorer tool is that there is no way to set the arrival and departure dates of the hotel property until you get to the reservations area of the hotel property itself — and in the case of the Hampton by Hilton Ufa in Russia, the date chosen is already tomorrow. Simply change the dates of arrival and departure and — if it is not already selected — activate the Use Flexible Dates box under the arrival and departure dates.
Choose a date when you intend to arrive. In this case, March 25 is selected.
Sure enough, you can redeem only 5,000 points for a night. Just click on the green Select button to continue and reserve your night.
How to Find Hotel Properties at a Specific Location
You could refine the search options to a specific location after you first set the maximum amount of points you are willing to spend per night; but this example will start with location being the primary search option.
New York was chosen for this example of how to find hotel properties at a specific location.
Notice that even though New York was entered as a search term, you have a list from which you can refine your search if desired, which includes either more defined regions or specific hotel or resort properties.
By the way, if you are wondering why New York is listed twice, the reason is because the one at the top returned 191 hotel and resort properties for the entire state; whereas the second one returned 29 hotel and resort properties for Manhattan only. In the list includes options for hotel properties at airports, in boroughs such as Brooklyn, and other choices.
Either way, click on the blue SEARCH button to continue.
Remember that you can still adjust the slider to how many points you want to redeem per night at the maximum — as well as changing the default setting from high to low to low to high, as explained earlier in this article…
…and when the functionality was indeed refined, notice that hotel and resort properties which are located in New York included the entire state and not just within the city; so ensure that the search parameters are as refined as possible when using the PointsExplorer tool.
How to Find Specific Brands of Hotel Properties
Upon the initial use of the PointsExplorer tool, you cannot refine by specific brands until you either choose the maximum number of points or the location of where you want to spend your points for reward nights.
Continuing with the example of finding hotel properties at which you can spend 5,000 points per night, on the left is a list of brands with which you can filter your results. That each brand lists the number of hotel and resort properties which are found in the initial search results is helpful.
Keep in mind that you can refine by more than one brand. To get to the example shown above, the slider was set to a maximum of 5,000 points per night; the list priority was changed to low to high; and the DoubleTree and Hilton brands were selected.
Remember to basically ignore the hotel and resort properties which claim to “Check availability to find lowest price”, as they are unlikely to match your search preferences.
95,000 Points Maximum Per Night? Not Exactly…
As per one of the frequently asked questions pertaining to the PointsExplorer tool, you will spend “no more than 95,000 Points per night for a Standard Room”…
Free nights can be redeemed for as few as 5,000 Points per night and no more than 95,000 Points per night for a Standard Room. The actual number of Points required may vary depending on the hotel, time of year, and cost of a room. Use this search tool to see the lowest and maximum number of Points required per night for each hotel.
…but the new The Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi hotel property requires a minimum of 120,000 points per night.
Although 120,000 points may be considered a good value when compared to the cash price for a night at that hotel property, I asked an official spokesperson from Hilton as to whether or not the maximum limit of 95,000 points per night is no longer the case — as well as whether or not other high-end hotel and resort properties be increased to that; or is The Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi a lone exception.
The response I received is as follows:
Hilton Honors members will have more choice than ever when traveling to the Maldives, with the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi and SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection opening in 2019, in addition to our existing Conrad Maldives property.
We’re pleased to offer standard redemption rates at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives. This hotel is unique in that it is priced slightly higher than standard rooms at our other luxury properties due to the hotel’s exclusive offerings and all-pool-villa accommodations. At this time, we do not have any other hotels that we deem would fit into this pricing model.
Nick Reyes of FrequentMiler called the new PointsExplorer tool “junky” because “isn’t always accurate” in this article he wrote recently; and he backed up his claim with examples. He is correct about the tool not always being accurate — but then again, published award charts were arguably not 100 percent accurate either.
Although the hotel and resort properties which claim to “Check availability to find lowest price” are unlikely to match your search preferences, they can be helpful if you do not mind spending more points per night and have not initially thought of staying at them. Still, I would prefer that they were not included in the search preferences if they do not match, as I would rather set those specific search parameters myself — which is exactly what I did when I wrote both the Yes — Redeem Only 5,000 Hilton Honors Points Per Night February 2019 at These Hotel and Resort Properties and Redeem Only 10,000 Hilton Honors Points Per Night February 2019 at These Hotel and Resort Properties articles.
I actually like the new PointsExplorer tool — if only because it is easy to use and fairly accurate enough to plan a stay using Hilton Honors points. Sure, you might need to perform a little extra research to ensure that the redemption rate is what the tool claimed; but in my opinion, it is certainly better than having to look up some award chart because you can search by brand, location or maximum limit of points which you want to redeem.
Keep in mind that if a hotel property is available for 5,000 points per night, chances are that the cash room rate is also rather low. For example, you can redeem 5,000 points per night at the Hilton Hurghada Resort — but you could have also paid as little as $47.00 per night — if you had stayed for two nights from Tuesday, March 12, 2019 to Thursday, March 14, 2019.
One other minor note: whenever I see the Uniform Resource Locator — or URL — of the PointsExplorer tool, I see the following…
…and I wonder if it may possibly be blocked as a pornography Internet web site on some firewalls.
For best results in using the PointsExplorer tool — even though it may not be the best method every single time you use it, which is why different settings exist — ensure that you:
- Set the slider set to your preferred setting of the maximum amount of points per night you are willing to spend
- Change the list priority from low to high; and
- Choose which specific brands of hotel and resort properties at which you are considering staying
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.