Hilton Honors Gold and Diamond members normally receive complimentary upgrades at check-in, subject to availability.
Going forward, Hilton will be enhancing how those upgrades are processed. Gold and Diamond members will be notified of their space-available upgrade 72 hours prior to arrival, and will be able to pre-select their upgraded room directly when they check-in via the app.
While it all sounds promising, you might want to temper your expectations…
Hilton Honors now offers automatic upgrades
Hilton Gold and Diamond members will receive an email and push notification from the Hilton Honors app informing them of their upgrade, within 72 hours of arrival. They will then be able to choose their specific room within the upgraded category within 36 hours of arrival.
All stays of up to six nights are eligible for this early confirmation, which will be available ” in the coming months” at all Hilton brands globally where space-available upgrades are offered, namely Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, LXR Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Canopy by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Curio Collection by Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, Signia by Hilton and Tapestry Collection by Hilton.
On the one hand, it’s good that the upgrade process will be automated. Under the previous system, it wasn’t uncommon to meet front desk associates completely ignorant of the Hilton Honors T&Cs, who would simply assign elite members the same category they booked.
On the other, it’s not like you’ll suddenly be chilling out in the presidential suite. Inventory control still remains very much in the hands of hotels, which presumably set aside a certain number of rooms for upgrades. If the hotel doesn’t block out those rooms, the system can’t automatically assign them.
Hilton Honor’s upgrade policy remains weak
The bigger problem lies with the weak language the Hilton T&Cs adopt with regards to upgrades. While Hyatt and Marriott explicitly state that top-tier elites will receive upgrades to suites where available, Hilton simply says:
Upgrades for Diamond Hilton Honors Members may include upgrades up to “junior”, “standard” or “one-bedroom” suites. Upgrades exclude executive suites, villas and specialty accommodations/floors/towers (which may include, but not limited to, “Vista,” “Villa,” or “Club” accommodation types), subject to the discretion of the hotel
This leaves a lot of discretion on the hotel’s side, and consequently, my experience as a Hilton Diamond is that suite upgrades are nowhere as common as my Starwood Platinum days.
Of course, there are hotels which do go above and beyond when it comes to upgrades. Then there are also hotels which will insist they’re fulfilling their obligations by placing you on a higher floor. It’s a classic YMMV situation, and I don’t see an automated system changing that.
My experience with automatic upgrades
Hilton has been trialing the automated upgrade feature at selected properties, and I happened to encounter it during my recent VTL trip to Munich. I had booked the Hilton Munich City for one night, and received an email about my room upgrade a couple of days before arrival.
It made me feel warm and fuzzy, but in reality the upgrade was anything but impressive.My room was upgraded from a King Guest Room to a King Executive Room, similar in every way except with lounge access- which I already have by virtue of my Diamond status.
This is exactly what I was referring to in the previous section: if a hotel isn’t inclined to give actual upgrades, then an automated system won’t change much. If anything, it might even be better to check-in the old fashioned way, where the front desk staff may be empowered to offer elite members something better.
Hilton’s new automated system takes some of the uncertainty out of the upgrades process, but it’s still up to the hotel how generous they want to be. A reader once emailed the Hilton Singapore to enquire about suite upgrades, and was told they simply didn’t exist at this property!
“In regards to your request for an upgrade to one of our suites room. As the complimentary upgrade for Honors Diamond member may include upgrades up to “junior”, “standard” or “one-bedroom” suites.
As above categories are no available in our property. We may offer discounted price for Honors Diamond member to guarantee the Family Suite / Executive Suite room upgraded. Our suites are very popular and sell out quickly.
If hotels want to play games with nomenclature, there’s very little an automated system will do to change that.