Hilton Horrors!

An incomplete reservation.  Bottom tier elite status.  No free breakfast.  No free internet.  Would I survive? 

A few weekends ago, I was scheduled to visit Washington DC for the Freddie Awards (Thursday), the Travel Executive Summit (Friday), and Frequent Traveler University (Friday through Sunday).  Before going, I thought that my travel plans were all set.  I was wrong.

On Wednesday night I packed for the trip and then opened TripIt to review my itinerary.  “Thursday morning: Depart DTW to IAD.  Friday: Check into hotel.”  Uh oh.  I was scheduled to fly out on Thursday and return on Monday, but I only had Friday and Saturday night booked at the hotel.

I called Hilton to see if they could extend my reservation to arrive a day earlier and leave a day later.  They told me the hotel was sold out.  Sure, I could have booked another hotel in the area, but I really wanted to stay in one place, so I logged into Hilton.com to see what I could find.

It turned out that there were a number of special rooms available.  All were listed at $300 per night or higher.  Luckily, I found some that I could book for “only” 40,000 Hilton HHonors points per night.  Compared to the $300 room rate, this was a pretty good value for my otherwise devalued Hilton points, so I booked the rooms with points.  Now I had three reservations for one long weekend.  Problem solved.  But, then I had to face the real challenge….

While researching room options, I discovered that I no longer had Hilton Gold status.  I was a lowly Silver elite!  Horror!  No more free internet or free breakfast!  What could I do?

Sure, I could have signed up for free Hilton Gold status by temporarily becoming Australian and making up a credit card number (see this post), but that just didn’t feel right to me.  And, it was far too late to get Gold status by spending $20K on my Hilton credit card or by signing up for the Citi Hilton Reserve card.  What other options did I have?

I remembered reading this LoyaltyLobby post about Hilton status matches.  According to LoyaltyLobby, I could send an email to hhonors@hilton.com to ask for a status match.  I would have to send a year-end activity report from a competing chain where I had status to prove that I was match-worthy.

Luckily, last year I had completed Marriott’s Taste of Platinum Challenge which resulted in my getting Marriott Platinum status that would last throughout 2013 and I had quite a few Marriott stays on the books for 2012.  I couldn’t find anything like a year-end report, but I was able to get Marriott’s website to display activity for the last 9 months of 2012.  I copied that info, along with a screenshot showing my Platinum status to Microsoft OneNote and then used OneNote to save the whole thing as a PDF.  I then emailed the PDF to Hilton along with a request for a match.  I received an automated response saying “Our goal is to respond to all inquiries within a 24-48 hour timeframe from receipt of the message.”  Would I get my status match in time?  Would I avoid having to pay for internet and breakfast?

On Thursday, there was no response from Hilton about the match.  I arrived at the hotel in the afternoon to check in.  The desk agent found my three reservations and click clacked away at the keys for many minutes to ensure that I had one room for the entire stay (which I appreciated very much!).  My Friday and Saturday night stays were booked as Executive Club Floor rooms (which included breakfast, but not internet), but the club lounge was closed for renovations (no wonder they had such a good rate for those rooms!).  Instead, I was given a bunch of breakfast and snack coupons that were valid through Sunday.  This meant that I was covered for breakfast for every day except Monday morning, even without Gold status.  Whew.

On Thursday night I paid for one night of internet service.  I had to work on this blog, after all.  The internet service lasted until Friday evening.  On Saturday, I called the desk to ask if internet was included in my Club Floor room rate.  Nope, but the desk agent offered to make an exception, and she gave me a code for two days worth of internet for free.  Score!

I was all set for the rest of the weekend, but Monday morning loomed ominously ahead.  That was the day I would have to pay for breakfast.  Oh no!

On Monday morning, I checked my email and found a wonderful sight (bolding is mine):

Re: Status Match

Dear Frequent Miler,

Thank you for your inquiry regarding a status match. We appreciate you taking the time to contact us.

First, we are always thrilled any time a member reaches out to us in an effort to attain our most prestigious Diamond membership level.
As you have reached the highest achievable level of membership with one of our hotel competitors, we are happy to extend a special one-time offer to fast track to Diamond tier level. If within the next 90 days, from today’s date, you record 21 eligible nights at any participating HHonors hotel, your account will be automatically upgraded to the Diamond tier status through March 31, 2015.  In the interim, we have upgraded your account to Gold membership level so that you may begin to enjoy the benefits while working to earn Diamond.

Sweet.  I have no intention of trying to stay 21 nights to get Diamond status, but I was happy to get free Gold status!

So, I got dressed and scampered to the front desk to let them know that I had earned Gold status during my stay.  The desk agent was incredibly gracious.  She told me to go sit down for breakfast and she would bring the breakfast coupon to me.

At the restaurant, I asked about ordering from the menu instead of the buffet and was told that there would be a $7 upcharge with the breakfast coupon.  I was OK with that.  When the coupon arrived, however, I was told that this coupon was good for anything on the menu, for free.  Score!  Breakfast was fantastic.

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  1. I am glad to read, everything worked out the way you expected. Next time I would like to follow better story

  2. Status matches are a great way to get benefits when you stay at a chain that is not your main program. Do you know which programs Hilton considers for matches?

  3. According to LoyaltyLobb,y Hilton considers year end summaries from the following chains: Marriott, Hyatt, Starwood, IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group), Fairmont Presidents Club, Choice, and Accor

  4. I find it a real problem that there a still gold seekers. My opinion is that you have to earn status true a legal way. I take distance from this one time gold seekers.
    With greetings Hiltonhotelfans

  5. So what’s the horror? Everything worked out in the end in your favor and it didn’t seem like it was much of a horror. Misleading title.

  6. I know you love drama in your writings but this looks little over the top! There is nothing which corresponds to your title suggests!
    I see a oxymoron in your conscience “You did’nt feel right to change to Australian address to get the gold status” but did’nt the same conscience tell you “not to beg for gold status for just a breakfast for a single person?
    If it is for a family of four, the breakfast might be expensive but can’t a single person manage his breakfast within $5?

  7. I am so sorry about your internet woes! Next time we’re in the same place, just ask me for my internet code.

    I’m glad you got to use free internet by asking. I actually forgot my internet code in my room so I just went and asked the guy at the front desk. He didn’t question my status or ask for my room number so I just assumed internet was included at the hotel. I suppose the lesson to be learned is that, despite rules, people don’t really like to say no when you ask for small things(especially if you’re nice and smile, with or without intention). :)

  8. Definitely first world problems… haha. I was panicking about having Hilton Gold this summer for my London trip. Thankfully the Australia trick extended me until March 2015! :)

  9. I had a similar experience the weekend of FTU. I was going to be there for the same four day period as you were but the special room rate (of $89) was only good for Friday and Saturday night. So I had to book a seperate booking for both Thursday night and Sunday night at over $200 per night. When I arrived, I told them I had three seperate reservations but I asked if they could be combined as one so I wouldn’t have to switch rooms since the room type for all three reservations was the same. The guy at the front desk worked his magic to make it happen. Then I asked if it would be possible to get the same $89 rate got the conference extended to the other nights as well. He checked with the manager, who came over looked up my account and after a few moments told me she would extend the special rate to the other nights as well. Sweet….four nights at $89. I guess having Gold status really paid off. And because breakfast was so backed up one morning with over an hour long wait and I had to forgo it to make the FTU event on time even though I had the free breakfast coupons for all four days, they knocked another $20 off my bill for that missed breakfast as well. They really took care of me and while Hilton (the corporation) screwed us all with their recent devaluation of points, I still think they take care of their valued customers, at least the staff of the Hilton Tyson’s Corner. My thanks to them for helping me out.

  10. My 2 cents and with no offense to anyone. Do you know a site named “Trip Advisor” to write you experience than the blog like this ?

    Ok ok. I got to run now

  11. Begging for breakfast…. geez Are you going to tell me that you are short of cash and that your basement is full of crap you bought for points and nobody else wants to buy?

  12. OMG. Was very nervous until the denouement. Glad this wasn’t serialized or I might have had a heart attack.

  13. Funny – I and a couple of others were able to Hotwire that HIlton for the Thursday night for only $110. Actually the first one who booked got $110, the 2nd one got if for less – $100. Reverse demand curve..

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