Many hotel loyalty programs offer the possibility of upgrades for elite members, even if they only say that an upgrade “may” include a suite. An upgrade could be almost anything, and you won’t find out until arrival how the hotel chooses to define it. For those special trips when a suite would be very welcome and availability is uncertain, confirming that upgrade in advance is important.
Marriott Bonvoy (previously Marriott Rewards/Starwood Preferred Guest) and World of Hyatt both offer confirmed suite upgrades to their top members. Hilton does not. New reports from The Points Guy and Doctor of Credit suggest that may change.
Hilton is testing a new upgrade benefit for its elite members that provides one advance upgrade certificate, which may be used for any stay up to seven nights. It needs to be redeemed by the end of March 2019, which means it could potentially be used for stays through March 2020. Hilton will use feedback from the trial to determine if it should be rolled out more broadly. Only a handful of members have been targeted for the trial program.
It’s unclear how the policy will work if the trial is a success. Right now the trial participants get only one certificate that can be used for either paid or award stays. I would probably use an upgrade on aspirational stays during vacation, and those are the same kind that I also book as awards. In the future the program could change to exclude awards, or it could be broken up to issue additional certificates that can be used for one night each. It might be issued to lower tier elite members, or it could be a bonus for exceeding the normal requirements of Diamond status.
The point is, we don’t know, but it’s nice to see Hilton trying a new benefit that I’ve enjoyed at other chains. I’ve been a Hilton Honors Diamond member for a few years now. I’ve never received a suite upgrade. Some people say Diamond members need to explicitly ask for the upgrade, but what’s the point of that? Loyal guests shouldn’t have to ask for benefits, or if they do ask, they should know that they’re going to be able to lock them in well in advance of their trip.