Hilton Honors members go shopping with points on Amazon

Discussion
Source: Hilton promotional video
Sep 22, 2017
George Anderson

If you’re one of the 66 million members of the Hilton Honors rewards program, you are now eligible to redeem your points for purchases on Amazon.com. With its announcement made earlier this week, Hilton becomes the first hotel brand to link its loyalty program point redemption to the e-tail site.

“We are always looking for ways to deliver unique experiences to customers,” said Mark Weinstein, Hilton’s senior vice president and global head – customer engagement, loyalty and partnerships, in a statement. “By teaming up with Amazon, we are able to offer our Hilton Honors members yet another choice in how they redeem their Hilton Honors Points.”

The new perk is free to all eligible Hilton Honors members who link their accounts to Amazon. Members of the Hilton program can automatically use their points to apply to purchases or opt to do it manually.

Hilton Honors members who use their points for purchases on Amazon should know that 500 points are equal to one dollar when they shop, according to the FAQ. While Hilton points may be combined with Amazon gift cards to make purchases, they may not be added to other rewards program offers on a single order.

David Williams, vice president, Amazon payment products, said the e-tailer “continuously strives to delight” its customers and the new program will make it possible for Hilton rewards programs members to purchase millions of items on his company’s site.

There are restrictions on what can be bought using the points. Among the items excluded are AmazonFresh items, Amazon Appstore Apps, Amazon Video, digital music, Kindle downloads, Subscribe and Save items and textbook rentals. Hilton members may use their points to pay for Prime memberships as a gift, but not to pay for their annual subscription. Also excluded are using points to reload gift cards or to put funds in their Amazon Allowance account.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you see as the benefits Hilton and Amazon will receive from linking the hotel’s reward points to purchases on the e-tail site? Do you see similar alliances becoming commonplace at retail?

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17 Comments on "Hilton Honors members go shopping with points on Amazon"


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Max Goldberg
Guest

I was excited when this offer was announced, but then discovered that it will take 500 Hilton points to earn $1 of Amazon credit. That’s no deal. It’s a ripoff. While I applaud Hilton and Amazon for finding a new way to utilize an alternative currency, it comes at a steep price.

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

Max, I agree. Likely one of the worst point-to-dollar value conversions available of any loyalty program.

Al McClain
Staff

Hilton devalued their loyalty program a couple of years ago and it hasn’t gotten better since. In my experience, whenever a hotel chain or airline program offers a new way to redeem points or miles, the ROI isn’t there for the member. It’s just another way for the hotel/airline to get customers to use points or miles and get reduced value. Their hope always seems to be that their customers won’t notice. In this case, it drives more traffic, although probably not that much, to the 800 pound gorilla – Amazon.

Scott Norris
Guest

Likewise, I opened up my Hilton app immediately after reading the article. I have 23,000 points banked — not enough to cover a family vacation, and only worth $46 at Amazon. Sigh … #demotivated

Tom Dougherty
Guest

Hilton has a long history in successful loyalty programs. Double dipping has increased preference. All else being equal this is a smart move.

Art Suriano
Guest

I think this is smart marketing and cross-promoting which is nothing new but this is the first time we see it between a successful hotel chain and Amazon. Hotel reward programs, though, typically see their guests accrue points used for free stays rather than for purchases. So how successful this will be is debatable. The other concern is that some of the restrictions might be annoying to Hilton customers. However, there are more positive benefits than negative ones with this program, and I can see other hotel chains offering similar programs in the future.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Initially I was very excited to hear this. But considering that the Hilton Honors members will only get $1 of Amazon credit for 500 points of the hotel’s rewards points, the value proposition just simply isn’t there.

These kinds of strategic alliances have proven to be very effective in the past, and potentially this partnership between the global hotel chain and Amazon could prove to be very successful. However coming out of the starting gate with such a low value proposition, consumers would most likely be better served using their hard-earned Hilton Honors points elsewhere.

Sunny Kumar
Guest

Points-based loyalty schemes are increasingly running out of steam. Consumers are much more aware of the time it takes to be eligible to redeem points for anything of value. This is why businesses will increasingly need to set up deals like this, to breath life back into a dated model.

Chris Petersen, PhD.
Guest

The most loyal airline and hotel rewards members are “prime” customers, or certainly the candidates that Amazon Prime is looking for as subscribers. Amazon receives a lot of benefits from this relationship. It is always interesting to see how many ways Amazon uses to attract new customers to the Prime ecosystem.

For the Hilton brand there is some value in being a first-mover loyalty program offering an unexpected range of Amazon choices to members. There is very low risk for the Hilton brand, and very low cost in testing the program. There is also a very fast way to “bleed off” points at a ratio of 500 points to $1.

In the age of convergence and disruption it is better to jump in and test things rapidly, especially in ways that the customer decides. The “road warriors” will vote soon enough on how or whether they spend their points.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

As others have noted, this is a good idea in theory but the rate of exchange is incredibly poor. This makes the proposition unattractive and leaves consumers with the sense that they are being ripped off. That noted, it is still an innovative step and it will be interesting to see how it evolves.

Tony Orlando
Guest

YAWN! Max is correct, this deal is a joke. But these hotels and Kohl’s and others are paying an almost godlike respect to Amazon. For me it shows the power they have to get other major corporations using their services — as if this will make me stay there, which of course I won’t.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

Everyone wins here except the customer. Amazon gains access to potentially millions of new customers. Hilton drains customer loyalty points for mere pennies on the dollar. As for Hilton Honors customers, they get the opportunity to redeem their hard earned Hilton points for very little in return. I see other similar loyalty program/Amazon relationships happening in the not-too-distant future.

Tony Orlando
Guest

Hey Richard, excellent point on the draining of the Hilton Honors Points.

Dan Frechtling
BrainTrust

The sentiment on this program is uniformly negative, and I agree. It’s not a good deal for Hilton Honors members, who typically earn a value of 5 cents to 6 cents per point as compared to 2 cents in the Amazon trade. And there are better ways to earn rewards to use at Amazon.com, such as the Chase Amazon Prime card.

Hilton has a value problem. Its points are less valuable than Marriott, Starwood, Wyndham, Hyatt, Accor and IHG, according to RealWorldMachine.com. Devaluing them further while adding more partners doesn’t solve the problem. For all the Hilton Honors members, such as myself, I hope they find a better formula.

Harley Feldman
BrainTrust

Hilton wins by offering their rewards members another option than hotel stays. Amazon wins by getting access to new customers. The downside is the 500 points needed for each dollar of purchase which is not a lot of value for the time and payments to Hilton hotels that it takes to earn the reward points.

Additional alliances in the future are inevitable. Some will work and others will fail.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust
Ricardo Belmar
Retail Transformation Thought Leader, Advisor, & Strategist
3 years 7 months ago

It’s interesting to watch how Amazon is finding so many ways to turn its Prime program into the ultimate cross-brand loyalty program. Partnering with Hilton (as they’ve done with American Express and Citibank and their reward programs) just provides another way for Prime customers to buy merchandise on Amazon.

Unfortunately, in this case, as others here have noted, the exchange rate is very poor, so the actual utility of this pairing is pretty minimal. Even with Citibank rewards, the transfer is 125 points vs 500 points. That said, with the acquisition of Whole Foods taken into account, we can expect to see the Prime program turn into the ultimate rewards
and loyalty program — something programs like Plenti wish they could do!

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
3 years 7 months ago

This isn’t likely to have much value to anyone involved – Amazon, Hilton, or the consumer.

The only people it matters to are those who frequently stay at Hilton – that’s heavily skewed to business travelers. And some of them will take advantage of it and enjoy the reward.

But the headline, despite program use being for higher socio-economic, makes Amazon look more and more like Green Stamps. Is that really good for them? Not like it will put a major hit on the brand. But a steady drip of stories and activities like these would hurt their brand.

And, personally, despite having quite a few points at Hilton, I won’t share that with Amazon. Amazon has plenty of info about me already – they don’t need to know more about my travel. (They probably already know more than I’d like them to with their location based tracking.)

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