If you have access to Hilton Honors points, primarily through holding an American Express or Citi Prestige card, then you can enjoy once-in-a-lifetime experiences through the Hilton Honors Auction site.
Yesterday I was lucky enough to join an Hilton Honors auction winner at the Formula One qualifying in Melbourne, and had an awesome time.
In this guide, I explain how it works, outline a few options to get your hands on more Hilton Honors points, and use my experience to give you a taste of what to expect.
How Hilton Honors Auctions work
There are four types of experiences you can use your points on:
- Music: access to premium seats at concerts, e.g. Coldplay
- Sports: access to VIP areas, e.g. Formula One
- Culture: meet-and-greet and award ceremonies, e.g. The Grammys
- Food: culinary experiences, e.g. food tours
and you have two methods of using your points:
- Bid Now: just like on eBay and SPG Moments, you submit bids in an auction in increments of 10,000 points
- Redeem Now: you can secure tickets on a first-come, first-served basis
This program is very similar to the Starwood Preferred Guest Moments program.
For example, you can currently bid on two VIP tickets to the U2 concert in Washington DC for 148,000 points, or redeem 100,000 points straight away for two VIP tickets to Neil Diamond in Nashville.
You can search by date and country – Australia isn’t explicitly listed in as one of the search options but sometimes there are events that are featured here. The events are mainly located in the US, followed by Western Europe and North Asia (Japan, South Korea and China).
It is very important to note that you must have the sufficient number of Hilton Honors points already in your account to make a bid or redeem and the points will be automatically deducted if you are the winner.
You can read more in the terms and conditions of the program.
My experience at the Melbourne Formula One
A friend won an auction around 4 weeks before the event for a pair of tickets to the Grand Prix qualifying that took place yesterday for around 350,000 HHonors points. This was labelled as a “McLaren-Honda VIP experience” and included:
- VIP hospitality in the McLaren-Honda Suite
- Tour of the McLaren-Honda garage to see the cars up close
- Two (2) nights’ accommodation at Hilton Melbourne South Wharf, including breakfast
- Transfer to and from the Albert Park Circuit
The same package was available for race weekend, and sold for 625,000 Honors points.
Hilton are leveraging their corporate relationship with McLaren-Honda thanks to their sponsorship of the team – these, in my opinion, make the best experiences because they truly are ‘money can’t buy’ – and yes, it really hit the mark.
First, we met at the Hilton Melbourne South Wharf to meet and collect our tickets for the day.
From there we were taken to the Paddock Club, the area at the heart of every Grand Prix – this included a car transfer directly into the circuit, saving a heap of time getting through entrance lines.
The Paddock Club is immediately above the pit lane – we were hanging out immediately above the McLaren garage, with all of the other goings-on of other teams close by.
McLaren-Honda’s private suite was our home for the day – with unlimited snacks, drinks, and a professionally hosted schedule of entertainment – plus a view over the pit lane.
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren’s new Belgian driver, came by after qualifying for a Q&A session too.
However the rooftop was probably the best place to most easily catch a good view of the action on track – the view was much better than from in the box.
The McLaren-Honda team were excellent making their garage open for organised tours for guests, so at one point in the afternoon we were given some more VIP passes to head out for a full-on garage experience – this allowed us a walk-through of the pit area plus full access to the McLaren-Honda garage.
It was a well-organised, excellent day out. The friend who won the auction was really pleased with the experience, and I got lucky with my invite. He earned his Hilton Honors points from a mixture of spend on his Citi Prestige Mastercard, and stays at Hilton properties.
How to earn Hilton Honors points
One of the more appealing credit card options for transferring points to Hilton is from the Citi Prestige Mastercard, which offers a transfer rate of 1 Hilton Honors point per Citi Rewards point, or an equivalent of 2 Honors points per dollar spent domestically, or 5 points per dollar on spend overseas.
Otherwise, here’s some links to some more summaries on Hilton Honors earning options:
- Transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards or the Citi Prestige Mastercard
- Earn points through the Macquarie Honors Platinum Visa card
- Earn points through stays at Hilton properties
- Buy points during one of Hilton Honors buy points promotions
For clarity – Point Hacks doesn’t have any commercial relationship with Hilton or McLaren.
This was great day out for an F1 fan, and Hilton’s execution of the entertainment was top-notch. Hopefully their other events would have the same level of polish and fun.