Source – online.wsj.com
By – Todd Shields and Alan Levin
Category – Hotel Website Design
Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., which began trading shares on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, expects to introduce a new hotel brand in 2014 aimed at affluent, young travelers by emphasizing style and design. Chief Executive Christopher Nassetta said Hilton is exploring plans for a boutique hotel, or “lifestyle” brand. It would aim to compete with W Hotels, a brand developed by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., HOT +1.28% and Marriott International Inc. MAR +1.20% ‘s fledgling Edition hotels, which the company is developing with famed hotelier Ian Schrager. “It’s something we’re working on,” Mr. Nassetta said in an interview at the stock exchange, where Hilton shares rose 7.5% to $21.50 on their first day of trading. Hilton sold 117.6 million shares Wednesday, raising about $2.35 billion in the largest-ever hotel initial public offering. Hilton ended the day with a market value of about $21 billion, compared with $14 billion for both Starwood and Marriott.
Hilton has 10 brands and a wide range of hotels, from limited service properties like Hampton Inn to luxury names like Waldorf Astoria and Conrad. But Hilton has been mostly frustrated in its efforts to add a boutique brand to its roster. About five years ago, the McLean, Va., hotel operator identified a lifestyle brand as a major growth initiative for the company, and Mr. Nassetta and his team were developing one that was dubbed Denizen. Hilton already had begun talks with developers in Abu Dhabi, London, Mumbai and New York about establishing Denizen hotels when it was hit with a 2009 lawsuit by Starwood, which alleged that Hilton was using stolen confidential documents to develop the new chain. Hilton eventually settled with Starwood, which included a cash payment to Starwood and an agreement that prevented Hilton from entering the lifestyle segment for two years. That prohibition expired in January, but Hilton has been quiet about any plans for a boutique brand since. Mr. Nassetta also said Hilton doesn’t plan to sell any properties next year. Green Street Advisors, a real estate research firm, put the value of the company’s properties’ at roughly $13 billion, including debt, and has suggested that Hilton might look to sell assets to pay down more debt. The company’s hotels include the Waldorf Astoria in New York and the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki.
But Hilton thinks it is better not to sell in the short term, even though in recent years the company has focused on growing by adding franchises, rather than by adding properties. That is in part because when the hotel business is strong, as it is now, there is more money to be made as an owner than as a franchiser. Most of the Hilton-owned hotels are large properties with hundreds of rooms, and group travel especially is showing signs of improving. Mr. Nassetta said some of these properties could be converted to timeshare or residential properties. Mr. Nassetta also said additional Hilton full-service hotels likely will end traditional room service. The New York Hilton Midtown made waves over the summer when it stopped round-the-clock food delivery from a separate kitchen, replacing it with a more casual “grab and go” food service that could be delivered to rooms throughout the day and evening but not overnight. “We are definitely going to do it at other places,” Mr. Nassetta said. The move by the prominent Manhattan hotel surprised hotel traditionalists. But Mr. Nassetta said the switch was both cost effective and popular with guests, who wanted more casual dining and faster delivery. Hotel analysts say other major brands are watching closely and could experiment with their own version of room-service light.
Source : online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303293604579254674236423890