Showing posts with label Hilton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hilton. Show all posts

Friday, May 3, 2013

Hilton Has Too Many Brands

What’s the Double Tree brand promise?  How is it different from Hilton’s brand promise?  How does Embassy Suites fit in between those two?  Also, what differentiates Waldorf Astoria from Conrad?  No one can know for sure.  Hilton confusingly tries to answer these questions, but does a poor job.  Let me clear things up:
Waldorf Astoria: Old luxury
Conrad: New luxury
Hilton: Business travelers
Double Tree: Shabby Hilton plus a cookie
Embassy Suites: Big room, free breakfast and beer
Hilton Garden Inn: Better roadside hotel
Hampton Inn: Basic roadside hotel
Homewood Suites: Basic extended stay
Home2 Suites: Basic extended stay with a touch of W
Hilton Grand Vacations: Timeshares
New York Skyline
It feels like Hilton can condense brands.  No one will miss the Double Tree brand if they are upgraded to Hiltons. Conrad can be rolled into Waldorf without any complaints either.  An additional problem is the range of quality Hilton provides.  Staying at one can really be a roll of the dice.  A clear understanding and differentiation of brands will help Hilton Hotels create specific expectations and deliver on those expectations to improve the customer experience.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hilton HHonors Points Inflation

If Zimbabwe can function after hyper inflation Hilton HHonors can too.   Hilton is changing their award chart by adding three new categories so the most expensive hotels go from 50,000 points to 95,000 points, 90% inflation.  They adding a fifth night free bonus like SPG, but that doesn't take out the sting of hyper inflation.  The changes go into effect March 28th, so book now at the old prices.  There may be some better values at road side Hampton Inns, but the fun of points programs is the aspirational aspect of awards, not general discounts.   
Hilton Vienna, Nice Hotel

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hilton Vienna and Wien

I love Vienna.  It is my favorite capital in Europe (Lisbon is a close second). My first trip to Wien was three years ago and I’ve been telling everyone to go since.  Vienna (or Wien as local signage says) has a great old town and many beautiful sights.  The city was the seat of power for the Holy Roman and Austrian Empires.  It is also a great walking town with a tram and subways system when you don’t want to.  The architecture is great, people friendly, and street food second to none.

My first time to Vienna I stayed at the Hilton Vienna Danube on a points stretcher award.  That hotel is not remotely close to the city.  This time my friend and I were staying at the Hilton Vienna downtown.  It is a great location.  One block from subway and tram stops just off the ringstrasse and next to Stadtpark.  The rooms are normal size by US standards and large by European.  Even with just Hilton silver status, we were upgrade to a suite. 
Hilton Vienna Suite
Hilton Vienna Suite
The room rate included breakfast and the hotel has a very nice spread (Sunday is more of a proper Sunday brunch set up).  The service was good, coffee better, and food great.  There was also a large Asian spread available.  It was all very nicely done and allowed us to start our day off right (and caffeinated).

Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence of the emperor and the royal family.  It is magnificent (more subdued than Versailles) and still restrained.  The tour is great and runs about an hour.  Another hour can be spent touring the grounds around the place.  It is easy to get to with its own subway stop, but arrive early as the lines grow very quickly.
Schönbrunn Palace
The Treasury Museum is stunning.  It puts the crown jewels in the Tower of London to shame really.  On display are the trappings of 1,000 years of empire. You have to see the collection for yourself.  It is truly awe-inspiring and well worth the visit.

I like a good tram ride, especially as a way to explore a city.  Vienna has a special tourist tram that runs in summer around the rinstrasse (it's the yellow one, can't miss it).  For EUR2 (it does not accept normal tram tickets) you get an audio tram tour of the city.  The regular tram system is extensive and a great way to explore Wien.  Some of the best food in town is found at tram and subway stops too.
Tram in Vienna
Tram Stop Food, Yum
My friend participated in equestrian events as a kid and said we had to take a tour of Spanish Riding School.  There are no shows in the summer so the tour was the only option.  It lasts about an hour and shows the stables, where you can get very close to the horses, the arena, and other areas.  Our tour guide was friendly and funny.  After the tour, we lucked out because the horses in town (most are send to a farm in the mountains over summer) were let in the arena to play around.  This was a free show open to anyone passing by.  I was able to watch from the royal box; a truly unique experience.
Spanish Riding School as Viewed From the Royal Box
Vienna is great and everyone should spend a few days there.  Saltsburg is great too, but only a day trip, as I was soon to find out.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Status Qualification Strategy Time

If you haven’t thought about it already, you should start planning out your status qualification strategy.  With five months left in the year, you are quickly running out of time if you are trending below your goals.  Also, with this much of a heads up, you may be able to grab a good deal on some flights or hotels stays to top off your numbers (use ITA Matrix and try to force extra connections).
United Express ERJ-145 at MLI
I’m doing fine for United 1K status this year.  Flown and booked trips total about 96,000 EQM (elite qualifying miles), so I just need one or two work trips to close the gap and I am set.  I did my United mileage math in June and booked two mileage run trips to SJU to make sure I get to where work travel can close the gap. 
W South Beach Miami Room Upgrade
Hotels are not looking so good though.  I have given up on Priority Club status all together because of their recent award chart devaluation and my lack of hotel activity (7/60th of the way to Platinum and 7/20th to Gold both on points earned, it’s not happening).  I am safe at Hilton Silver because I have their Amex, but Gold is too far out of reach to bother.  Starwood Preferred Guest is my favorite program and I will pull out all the stops to keep Platinum.  Right now I have 19 of my 25 needed stays booked or completed.  This leaves me with 6 stays in 5 months, not unreasonable, but it will be a stretch.  I have been bouncing hotels all year to increase my stay count without needing more nights.  I may be able to grab another three stays from work travel, but the last three may come out of my pocket.  Not insurmountable, but the $40 / night Four Points by me closed, so it may get expensive to make Platinum.  It’s still better than finishing the year at a pathetic 23 nights.