Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Inc., formerly Hilton Hotels Corporation, is an American multinational hospitality company that manages and franchises a broad portfolio of hotels and resorts. Founded by Conrad Hilton in 1919, the corporation is now led by Christopher J. Nassetta.
Hilton is headquartered in Tysons Corner, Virginia. As of March 2017, its portfolio includes 4,982 properties (including timeshare properties) with 812,341 rooms in 103 countries and territories. Prior to their December 2013 IPO, Hilton was ranked as the 36th largest privately held company in the United States by Forbes.
Hilton has 14 brands across different market segments, including Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Canopy by Hilton, Curio - A Collection by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton, Hilton Grand Vacations and Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Tru by Hilton, and Tapestry Collection by Hilton.
On December 12, 2013, Hilton again became a public company, raising an estimated $2.35 billion in its second IPO. The Blackstone Group holds a 45.8 percent stake in the company. In October 2016, HNA Group agreed to acquire a 25 percent equity interest in Hilton from Blackstone, reducing Blackstone's interest in Hilton to approximately 21 percent. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017.
Hilton was founded by Conrad Hilton in Cisco, Texas, in 1919 and had its headquarters in Beverly Hills, California, from 1969 until 2009. In August 2009, the company moved to Tysons Corner, unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, near McLean.
In 1919, Conrad Hilton purchased his first hotel, the 40-room Mobley Hotel in Cisco, Texas, and bought additional Texas hotels as years passed.
In 1925, the Dallas Hilton became the first hotel to use the Hilton name. In 1927, Hilton expanded to Waco, Texas where he opened the first hotel with air-conditioning in public areas and cold running water.
In 1943, Hilton purchased the Roosevelt Hotel and the Plaza Hotel in New York, establishing the first hospitality company to span the contiguous United States. The company incorporated in 1946 as the Hilton Hotels Corporation, and subsequently began public trading of shares on the New York Stock Exchange.
Hilton International was born a few years later (in 1949) with the opening of the Caribe Hilton Hotel in Puerto Rico. Barman Ramon "Monchito" Marreno claimed he created the piña colada cocktail at this resort. Hilton purchased the Waldorf Astoria New York in the same year. Conrad Hilton was featured on the cover of Time Magazine, the only hotelier at the time to have been so.
The Hotels Statler Company was acquired in 1954 for $111 million in what was then the world's most expensive real estate transaction. One year later, Hilton created the world's first central reservations office titled "HILCRON". The reservations team in 1955 consisted of eight members on staff booking reservations for any of Hilton's then 28 hotels. Reservations agents would use the "availability board" to track records. The chalk board measured 30 feet by 6 feet, and allowed HILCRON to make over 6,000 reservations in the year. Bookings could be made for any Hilton via telephone, telegram, or Teletype. Later in 1955, Hilton launched a program to ensure every hotel room would include air conditioning. In late 1955, Hilton opened the first post-World War II property in Istanbul.
Hilton is credited with pioneering the airport hotel concept with the opening of the San Francisco Airport Hilton in 1959. In 1965, Hilton launched Lady Hilton, the first hotel concept created specifically for women guests. To appeal to female travelers, a number of properties offered floors occupied by only women along with distinct amenities for their usage. In 1969, the first DoubleTree Hotel opened. At the time, Hilton was not affiliated with the brand until its acquisition of the parent company in 1999.
When Hilton purchased the Flamingo Las Vegas in 1970, the company would become the first in the domestic gaming business to be listed on the NYSE. In 1979, founder Conrad Hilton died at the age of 91. Hilton Hotels Corporation later created the Conrad Hotels brand in honor of Hilton. Hilton Honors (formerly Hilton HHonors), the company's guest loyalty program, was initiated in 1987. In 1994, the Honors surpassed competing hotel loyalty programs by offering members both hotel credit points and airline credit miles.
The company is also noted to have been a sponsor of the United States Olympic Team.
The company spun off its international operations into a separately traded company on December 1, 1964, known as Hilton International Co. It was acquired in 1967 by Trans World Corp., the holding company for Trans World Airlines. In 1986, it was sold to UAL Corp., the holding company for United Airlines, which became Allegis Corp. in an attempt to re-incarnate itself as a full-service travel company, encompassing Westin Hotels and Hertz rental cars in addition to Hilton International and United Airlines. In 1987, after a corporate putsch, the renamed UAL Corp. sold Hilton International to Ladbroke Group plc, a British leisure and gambling company, which, in May 1999, adopted the name Hilton Group plc.
As a result, there were two separate, fully independent companies operating hotels under the Hilton name. Those Hilton Hotels outside the U.S. were, until 2006, styled as Hilton International hotels. Because the two chains were contractually forbidden to operate hotels in the other's territory under the Hilton name, for many years hotels run by Hilton International in the U.S. were called Vista International Hotels, while hotels operated by the American arm of Hilton outside the U.S. were named Conrad Hotels.
In 1997, to minimize longtime consumer confusion, the American and British Hilton companies adopted a joint marketing agreement under which they shared the same logos, promoted each other's brands and maintained joint reservation systems. At that point, the Vista chain was phased out, while Conrad has been restyled as one of the luxury brands of Hilton (along with The Waldorf-Astoria Collection) and operates hotels within the U.S., as well as abroad.
In 1998, Hilton spun off its gaming operations into a separate, publicly held company called Park Place Entertainment (later Caesars Entertainment, Inc.)
In 2001, Hilton agreed to sell Red Lion to WestCoast Hospitality.
On December 29, 2005, Hilton Hotels Corporation agreed to re-acquire the Hilton International chain from its British owner, Hilton Group plc, for GBP 3.3 billion ($5.71 billion). As well as bringing the two Hilton companies back together as a single entity, this deal also included Hilton plc properties operating as Conrad Hotels, Scandic Hotels and LivingWell Health Clubs. On February 23, 2006, the deal closed, making Hilton Hotels the world's fifth largest hotel operator in number of rooms. Hilton Group PLC (headquartered in the UK) then renamed itself Ladbrokes plc. Scandic Hotels was sold the next year on March 1 to EQT Partners.
On July 3, 2007, Hilton Hotels Corp. agreed to an all-cash buyout from the Blackstone Group LP in a $26 billion (including debt) deal that would make Blackstone the world's largest hotel owner. At $47.50 per share, the buyout price was 32 percent higher than the closing value of a share of Hilton stock on July 3. The deal was the culmination of a year of on and off discussions with Blackstone. In October 2007, Christopher J. Nassetta was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Hilton. In February 2009, Hilton Hotels Corp., announced that its headquarters were moving from Beverly Hills to Fairfax County, Virginia.
While Blackstone saw an opportunity to streamline the company and push Hilton's expansion overseas when Blackstone pursued Hilton in 2006 and 2007, the buyout saddled the company with $20 billion of debt just as the economy was turning down. The debt had very liberal terms, so there was no danger of default, but when travel slowed, the company suffered. In April 2010, Hilton and Blackstone restructured the debt. Blackstone invested a further $800 million of equity and the debt was reduced to $16 billion.
Hilton returned to being a public company on December 12, 2013. This second IPO in the company's history raised an estimated $2.35 billion. The Blackstone Group retained a 45.8% stake in the company.
The company announced in February 2016 that Hilton would turn its hotel holdings into a real estate investment trust. Prior to making the announcement, the company went to the IRS for approval.
In February 2016, Hilton announced its intention to spin off its timeshare and real estate businesses, creating three independent public companies.
As of 2013, about 70% of the rooms branded under Hilton were franchised to independent operators and companies. During its 2007–2013 ownership of Hilton, Blackstone Group pursued a strategy of predominantly expanding Hilton's reach through franchise agreements, while relatively few new properties were actually operated by Hilton. Hence, the proportion of franchised rooms grew significantly during this period. The practice of franchising is popular within the hospitality industry among most major hotel chains, as the parent company does not have to pay for the maintenance and overhead costs of franchised properties. Franchisees must follow strict brand standards in order to maintain a licensing agreement with Hilton. Many of Hilton's flagship properties, airport properties, and largest resorts, however, are corporately managed.
Hilton Honors (formerly Hilton HHonors) is Hilton's guest loyalty program in which frequent guests can accumulate points and airline miles by staying within the Hilton portfolio. The program is one of the largest of its type, with about 62 million members.
Hilton renamed the Hilton HHonors program to Hilton Honors in February 2017.
The company has its headquarters in Tysons Corner, Virginia and an operations center in Memphis. Its Asia-Pacific operations are managed out of Singapore, its Middle East and Africa operations are managed out of Dubai, and its European operations are based in the UK.
According to Careerbliss.com, Hilton ranked first in the '2012 Happiest Companies in America', with a score of 4.36 out of 5. The survey looked at job reviews from more than 100,000 employees such as characteristics like work-life balance, company culture and reputation, and the relationships employees have with their bosses. Additionally, Hilton has scored 100% on the Corporate Equality Index for the past nine years.
In 2016, Hilton was named one of the "World's 25 Best Multinational Workplaces" by Fortune and Great Place to Work.
In 2017, Fortune ranked Hilton number 26 in their list of "The 100 Best Companies to Work For".
On April 3, 1973, Dr. Martin Cooper made the world's very first cell phone call in front of the New York Hilton. A press conference would be held at the hotel later that day to mark the milestone.
Conrad Hilton (played by actor Chelcie Ross) features as a major character in the third season of Mad Men as lead character Don Draper creates a series of ad campaigns for Hilton Hotels. The Drapers travel during one episode to the Cavalieri Hilton in Rome, though the scenes were actually shot at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.
At the rotating wheel space station in Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey, visitors can stay at a Hilton hotel. Hilton's logo appears prominently in the space station's lounge.
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