Hilton Goes First, Dropping Elite Status Requirements For 2021

Travel brands across the world have been struggling with how to get customers to travel since the start of the pandemic.  Many of those offers were patchwork in the beginning to solve a problem that seemed to be measured in weeks, maybe months.  Six months later it’s clear that travel is on a very slow path to recovery and major travel companies need a long-term plan.  Hilton recently made clear how much they value increasing/retaining their loyalty ranks in 2021.

Hilton Reduces Elite Status Requirements

Early on, Hilton was the first to move in a big way to extend status and add flexibility to reservations.  Now, they’re the first to trim elite status requirements for 2021.  Folks who already had top tier status in 2020 are set through March, 2022.

But, now Hilton will allow folks to earn elite status for half of the normal requirements in 2021.  Hilton has 3 ways to earn each elite status level and they’re cutting all of those ways to qualify in half:

  • Silver status can be earned with 5 nights, 2 stays or 12,500 base points.
  • Gold status can be earned with 20 nights, 10 stays or 37,500 base points.
  • Diamond status can be earned with 30 nights, 15 stays or 60,000 base points.

Earn Hilton Diamond With 15 Nights

Why settle for 30 nights when you can have Diamond status for 15?  View From The Wing details how you can do that this year with only 15 nights in Hilton hotels.  Hilton is also making it easier to earn Milestone benefits and gift status to others, as well as extending free night certificates.

The Final Two Pennies

Hilton had one of the easiest to earn top-tier statuses even before the pandemic, in that you could earn Diamond status by holding the AMEX Hilton Aspire Card.  Now, with these changes for 2021, they’re making top-tier status very easy to achieve.  I’m honestly not sure whether Hyatt, IHG, Marriott and Wyndham will match these reductions.  It’s a pretty drastic step.

Hilton’s strategy seems to be to grab elite members now and figure out what to do with them later.  By eliminating the ability to use stays to qualify for elite status (instead of nights) Marriott has already made it more difficult to earn elite status.  Additionally, they don’t give away top-tier status with one of their credit cards.  Hyatt doesn’t allow members to qualify using stays, but they do have a base points qualification option.  And, they have lower night thresholds for their top-tier status than Marriott.

Marriott strikes me as the chain least likely to make a move here.  I wouldn’t be surprised if IHG makes a move like Hilton.  And, I also wouldn’t be surprised if Hyatt added some flexibility to how folks will qualify in 2021.  Gary Leff and I discussed some of these sorts of decisions recently as it relates to how different travel brands would handle retaining and attracting elite members in 2021.  It’s worth a few minutes of your time.

It’s a weird world we live in, and Hilton has shown how serious they are about keeping elite members next year.  If travel returns to any level of normalcy in 2021, there will be a lot of newly minted Hilton Diamond members.

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