Hilton Sees Another Big Surge in Membership and Engagement

Jul 24, 2019

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Hilton is continuing its momentum with impressive Q2 2019 results. Following a 20% surge in membership just a quarter ago, president and CEO Chris Nassetta reported on Hilton’s earnings call on Wednesday that it now has “more than 94 million members, up more than 20% year-over-year with meaningful increases in engagement.”

Nassetta added that “active members account for more than half of [Hilton’s] global members.” The number of loyalty-program members hitting 100+ nights annually in Hilton properties is up nearly 60% from last year.

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Interestingly, he also elaborated on Hilton’s drive to see incremental improvements on engagement at lower levels. While Hilton no doubt appreciates points and miles hounds that scrape together enough Honors points for a weeklong stay in Moorea, it’s focused on connecting with those who stay less frequently. “The more engagement, the more share of wallet we get,” said Nassetta. “The more that people are using their points and doing things with it that get them active in our system — that get them in our app and get them thinking about us — the more they spend with us.”

Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa - overwater bungalow porch
Hilton Moorea is home to some of the most stunningly positioned overwater bungalows in the world (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

We also learned that aspirations and actions are quite different. In answering an investor question on Hilton’s foray into luxury, Nassetta offered the following: “While people aspire to go to the Maldives, that’s not actually what they do. More often than not, they use [Honors points] for the mundane things in life, like going to New York City for a weekend or to Pennsylvania for a soccer tournament with their kids. They use the points they earn traveling on business to satisfy the needs of their personal life.”

He reiterated that while luxury was a part of Hilton’s overall equation, “it’s a relatively small part of it in terms of the other parts of the ecosystem that help drive loyalty.”

(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz / The Points Guy)

In February 2019, Hilton tiptoed around investor questions on the reason for the recent surge, not wanting to directly cite Marriott’s documented IT woes following its merger with SPG.

This quarter, it’s enjoying a 20% increase in net income from the same period in 2018, as well as an 11% uptick in adjusted EBITDA, exceeding the high end of guidance. Revenue per available room (RevPAR) was up 1.4% year-over-year on a currency-neutral basis, which means that people are paying more on average for each stay.

Hilton opened 17,100 rooms across 123 hotels this quarter. That includes the newly-opened Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre and the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, contributing to the company’s goal of growing its luxury portfolio by 17% in 2019.

Featured photo of Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa by the author.

Note: The Hilton Honors Ascend Card listed in the video above is now the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card.  

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