For years, the carrot dangled in front of travelers to extract extra loyalty was a hotel breakfast. Hilton Honors offered Gold and Diamond elites a continental breakfast for two, at most hotels around the world when they stayed brand loyal.
In the USA, that’s changing, at least temporarily, but the concept isn’t bad – just the delivery.
A new food and beverage credit of varying amounts will replace the full breakfast experience at Hilton’s hotels in the USA for 2021, and depending on how you travel, it could be great news – or highly frustrating. There’s a case for both.
Hilton Drops Free Breakfast In USA, But…
Full service and luxury hotels in the USA will no longer offer complimentary breakfast for up to two guests, to Hilton Honors Gold or Diamond members. Instead, a new f&b credit will take its place, which can be used at any time of day, for food or beverages.
The credit is said to cover all over 2021, but there’s a likelihood it could remain longer.
To a guest like myself, who hates bad coffee and indulgently filling menu items, who instead prefers to get third wave coffee and a pastry elsewhere, the concept is super. I rarely use breakfast benefits even if I have them, so to be able to “buy myself” a glass of wine, or dessert later in the evening with my f&b credit gives far greater flexibility.
It goes further to recognize my personal travel needs and tastes than a simple “here’s breakfast”.
Unfortunately, Hilton seems to gravely underestimate the cost of breakfast in their hotels, at least if a leaked document uncovered by Doctor of Credit, and sent to hotels is to remain in tact.
Hilton will dish out breakfast credit to Gold and Diamond members as well as up to one registered guest in the room, as follows.
“The credit can be utilized at all participating F&B outlets on-property including the market and room service. Members will be instructed to charge all F&B purchases to their folio. Credits will be provided daily to Gold and Diamond members and up to one guest registered to the room.
Gold members will have the option to either receive points or the F&B credit, while Diamond members will receive both points and the credit. Credits do not accrue or rollover if unused. If they are used, it will be processed through manual folio adjustments by the night audit.
The credit amounts are as follows: Luxury $25, Full Service $12 (or $15 in high-cost markets), Lifestyle $12 (or $15 in high-cost markets) and Hilton Garden Inn $10.”Hilton Honors
$10-$25 Doesn’t Go Very Far In Hotels
Though it almost always feels inflated for “show”, to make members feel like they’re getting tremendous value, breakfasts in luxury hotels are commonly very expensive.
Like at least $20 for a breakfast main course, such as an omelette, with charges for any extra like granola, fruit plates, coffee and what not. It’s not uncommon to see a folio bill for $80 for breakfast for two. Putting in a daily credit of $25 hardly get there.
And to that score, nearly every item on a hotel menu is inflated for price, even compared to city dining. A glass of wine worth drinking is rarely under $20 on a hotel menu, so in some cities or properties, you’re not even getting enough to cover that.
Luxury travel booking programs often offer at least $100 in f&b credit, even on one night stays with chain hotels, so it’s either odd that “not” being brand loyal could be more valuable, or it’s an “extra win” if you’re able to stack elite perks with booking perks.
Choice Is A Win For Travelers
On the glass half full side, being able to order a room service burger and pay pennies on the dollar, with the elite credit covering most, is a welcome change. But why not go further with choice, and offer breakfast as it was, or a perhaps more modest f&b credit to only add value, rather than make people weigh the net?
People can make the credit work on their terms, rather than on the hotel’s terms, and that’s good for travel, but a choice between the system of old and the new option was probably the better play.
Here’s what matters: the concept is great. It’s brilliant. The problem is execution. The amounts are too scant for a guest to really feel the benefit of loyalty.
If hotel chain loyalty is worth no more than $10-$25 per day, that should become an inflection point for people who have had the blinders on, due to loyalty. If a hotel you think might offer a better experience, with a different chain is $25 cheaper, you’re not missing out on a thing.
I’d love to see this concept rolled out with more exciting amounts, such as a baseline of $20 per day, with numbers more in the $40 range for luxury properties. These costs are not “real” costs, since markup on the items is extremely significant, so even a $40 property credit might only cost the hotel a burger patty, a bun and a bottle of water.