In a year when the travel industry faced challenges like never before, Hilton weathered the storm by staying true to its founding purpose – to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality. As the COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for the travel and tourism industry, Hilton developed industry-leading guest innovations, reached significant growth milestones and continued to positively impact communities around the world.
Even as the company faced the biggest test in its 101-year history, Hilton’s resilient, capital-light business model enabled it to organically reach its 1 million room milestone in the fourth quarter.
Three of the hotels that helped the company cross this important threshold paint a picture of Hilton’s global growth story: Hilton Garden Inn Umhlanga Arch in South Africa, illustrating the company’s expansion into Africa; Tru by Hilton Savannah Airport, showcasing the power of the fastest-growing new brand in Hilton’s portfolio; and the Hilton Garden Inn Guizhou Maotai Town in China, helping deliver on the company’s ambitious growth goals in the APAC market.
Meanwhile, Hilton’s overall development pipeline remains strong, with 2,640 hotels and more than 408,000 rooms globally.
“It’s been a year unlike any other, but even in the face of incredible challenges, our Team Members and owners have proven that travel is an unstoppable force for good,” said Chris Nassetta, president & CEO, Hilton. “Thanks to their grit and determination, Hilton has made a difference in the lives of so many and positively impacted communities at a time when our hospitality is needed more than ever – and together we look forward to creating even more meaningful memories in the year ahead.”
Throughout 2020, Hilton, in partnership with its hotel ownership community, has found innovative and meaningful ways to adapt to the changing needs of its guests, Team Members and communities:
The pandemic rapidly changed guest behavior, priorities and concerns. Hilton responded with start-up style speed, grounded in more than a century of hospitality know-how to provide reassurance to travelers.
Among the innovations:
- Launched Hilton CleanStay™, an industry-defining standard of cleanliness and disinfection in collaboration with RB, maker of Lysol and Dettol and in consultation with Mayo Clinic
- Redesigned meeting and event experiences and set new standards for event cleanliness and customer service with the launch of Hilton EventReady with CleanStay™
- Modified cancellation policies and took a number of steps to provide even more flexibility for Hilton Honors members including status and Points extensions
- Created opportunities for Hilton Honors members to respond to the global pandemic by donating their Points to convert into cash and send directly to organizations including World Central Kitchen, Clean the World, Project Hope or Direct Relief
- Provided alternative remote working options through the launch of WorkSpaces by Hilton in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom
- Continued to provide contactless guest experience options through the free Hilton Honors app, enabling guests to personalize their experience with the ability to choose their rooms, check-in and out digitally and use their phones as digital keys. Guests have now used Hilton’s Digital Key to open more than 100 million doors worldwide
- Inspired travelers to make new memories with the global launch of our insights-driven marketing campaign, “To New Memories”
- Revealed, for the first time ever, DoubleTree by Hilton’s official chocolate chip cookie recipe so guests could create an at-home version of this iconic travel treat
Response to Communities
Hilton continued to find inventive ways to address some of the most critical, immediate needs of the communities where it operates.
- Partnered with American Express to donate up to 1 million hotel room nights across the U.S. for frontline medical professionals leading the fight against COVID-19
- Expanded partnership with American Express through a $1 million contribution from American Express to World Central Kitchen, to provide healthy, freshly prepared meals to the frontline healthcare professionals who stayed at Hilton properties in cities across the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic
- Revealed 2020 Hilton Effect Foundation Grants and reached more than $1 million in global COVID-19 community response efforts
- Extended Hilton’s hospitality to help the travel industry come together to overcome the global pandemic including sharing countless stories of teams around the world supporting each other and helping their communities
- Supported Hilton Team Members searching for virtual and remote volunteer opportunities, including during its annual Hilton Effect Week volunteer event and through innovative partnerships with groups including Clean the World, Meals on Wheels and more
- Remained committed to the company’s Travel with Purpose 2030 Goals to cut the company’s environmental footprint in half and double its social impact investments worldwide. These efforts led to Hilton being named the global industry leader in sustainability for the second consecutive year on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices
Continued Global Growth and Expansion
Hilton kept dreams of traveling alive by opening exciting new properties around the world. All the while, the company advocated on behalf of owners, many of whom are small businesses, who struggled with the travel decline.
- Announced key additions to Hilton’s robust pipeline including Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club and Resorts World Las Vegas (featuring Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts and LXR Hotels & Resorts brands) in the Americas, Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers in EMEA and Waldorf Astoria Tokyo Nihonbashi and Hilton Singapore Orchard in APAC
- Opened new notable properties around the world including Conrad Punta de Mita in the Americas and Susona Bodrum, LXR Hotels & Resorts in EMEA, Hilton Goa Resort and Hilton Okinawa Sesoko Resort in APAC
- Launched Tempo by Hilton, an elevated and approachable lifestyle brand offering thoughtful design, efficient service and exciting partnerships and reached notable brand milestones including the 600th DoubleTree by Hilton
Response to Team Members
2020 saw Hilton go from being named the #1 Best Company to Work for in the U.S. to, weeks later, having to furlough thousands of Team Members due to the impact of COVID-19 on travel and tourism. At every turn, the company leaned into its values to navigate these tough decisions.
- Activated Hilton’s Team Member Assistance Fund to support Hilton Team Members who have been directly impacted by COVID-19 or have a family member impacted by the virus
- Reversed its recruitment engine to connect Team Members impacted by furloughs and layoffs with access to more than a million job opportunities through the Hilton Workforce Resource Center
- Launched a new Hilton Alumni Network portal with access to relevant career opportunities, resources, news and information
- Committed to an expedited recruitment process for Team Members who reapply for future roles when conditions allow
- Extended Team Member Hilton Honors status and access to Go Hilton, Hilton’s industry-leading Team Member travel program, for departing Team Members, and offered improved Honors status to current Team Members
- Continued to earn recognition as a top workplace, even as the pandemic continued, including being named to the top spot on the 2020 list of Best Workplaces in Greater China
- Recognized the heroic actions of frontline Team Members with the creation of a new Hospitality Heroes Award
- Listened to Team Members and relaunched the network of eight Team Member Resource Groups committed to building communities across the organization, and introduced a Courageous Conversation series to foster meaningful dialogue to bring about lasting change in the midst of an evolving social justice landscape.