In honor of Hilton’s 100th anniversary, LODGING caught up with the company’s CEO, Chris Nassetta, to talk about this major milestone and his plans to parlay Hilton’s momentum into the future.
Congrats on Hilton’s 100th anniversary! How does it feel to be CEO during this incredible milestone?
Not many people, let alone companies, make it this far. It’s truly an honor to be part of this moment in time, and I have to give all the credit to our incredible team members, guests, owners, and partners, who have been part of our Hilton family for the last 100 years. We would not be celebrating this milestone without their many contributions, and every day I am deeply inspired by everything we have achieved together. We’re humbled by this experience.
What was preparing for this year of celebration like? What were you trying to keep top of mind during that process?
This year has been all about celebrating our people—we truly have the best team members in any industry and it’s a privilege to work alongside them every day. Our property and corporate teams around the world brought our 100th anniversary to life in really remarkable ways, and we wanted to make sure that we kept the focus on the people who made this milestone possible.
It’s also been an extremely busy 12 months for the company, which launched three new brands. How are you making sure that these brands are properly integrated into the portfolio during such a busy time?
We’re very intentional about incubating new brands, and we undertake a comprehensive research and development phase before introducing something new to the market. As part of that process, we stay laser-focused on addressing feedback and insights from our guests, owners, and partners, so we can guarantee that any new brand we launch truly fills a guest and market need. This year was particularly busy with the debut of three new brands (Motto by Hilton, LXR Hotels & Resorts, and Signia Hilton), and our teams are working hard to help them flourish.
Hilton was also named the #1 company to work for by Fortune magazine. What do you think helped the company earn that distinction?
Our more than 410,000 team members are the most dedicated people in the world, and we’ve created an incredible workplace culture together—one that honors the diversity of our team and prioritizes being an inclusive place for all. Diversity is a fact of life, but we’ve learned that inclusion is a significant choice for businesses to make. As the first hospitality company to reach the top spot, that recognition was a huge honor. It was also the result of a lot of hard work and a commitment to making Hilton an environment where our team members can bring their authentic selves to work.
How have you worked to make sure that the company’s culture remains positive and welcoming?
I strongly believe that a great workplace culture starts with a True North, and leaders who inspire their teams to work toward something bigger than themselves. People want to know that they are part of something that matters, that their team is strong and growing, and that tomorrow will be better than today. At Hilton, our mission, vision, and values are at the heart of everything we do, and all of our team members around the world are committed to our founder Conrad Hilton’s vision to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality.
Are there any new initiatives that you’re excited to bring forth in the months to come?
During our first 100 years, Hilton defined the industry as we know it today. Now, as we enter our second century of hospitality, we’re eager to build on that pioneering legacy to bring new products to market that respond to the needs of our guests, owners, team members and partners. From new brands in our incubator to game-changing technology like Connected Room, we are leading in innovations that will create even more memorable experiences for our guests.
What do you like best about being in the hotel industry?
I have always believed that the relationships we build with our guests and our team members are the best parts of the business. I’m a people person at heart, and it is so fulfilling to walk through one of our properties and feel the light and warmth of our signature hospitality, whether it’s from chatting with guests on the elevator, meeting team members, or hearing their stories. There is no shortage of inspiring moments in this business, and I am fortunate enough to have had a long career in what I consider the best industry in the world.