The company earned a spot on the 2018 World’s Best Workplaces list, and has welcomed more than three billion guests in its 100-year history.
Through the award-winning guest loyalty programme Hilton Honors, more than 94 million members who book directly with Hilton can earn points for hotel stays and experiences, and enjoy instant benefits including digital check-in with room selection, Digital Key and Connected Room.
Hilton currently operates 68 hotels across the MENA including Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton by Hilton.
In the next five years, the brand is expected to almost double in size in the UAE to almost 50 hotels and will quadruple in size in KSA to more than 50 hotels, while growth remains strong across the rest of the GCC and North Africa.
Hilton currently has almost 100 hotels in its development pipeline, with new hotels being developed across the region. It will also introduce new brands into the region in the next five years including Canopy by Hilton, its lifestyle brand.
The group has also announced a deal with Alshaya Group for 70 Hampton by Hilton hotels across the MENA, Turkey and Russia, with many of these hotels set to open in the next seven years.
About Hilton Honors
Hilton Honors is the award-winning guest loyalty programme for Hilton’s 17 brands, comprising nearly 5,900 properties in 114 countries and territories. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose nearly any combination of Points and money to book a stay, an exclusive member discount and free standard Wi-Fi.
Members also enjoy popular digital tools available exclusively through the Hilton Honors mobile app, where Hilton Honors members can check-in, choose their room, access their room using a Digital Key and use ‘order ahead’ to request extra pillows or their favourite snack for their room prior to arrival.
Members can redeem their Points for free nights, premium merchandise and items on Amazon Shop with Points, make charitable contributions or gain access to events through Hilton Honors Experiences, such as exclusive artist connections and VIP concerts with Live Nation, and racing experiences with McLaren Racing. The programme is free to join.
Interview: William Costley
Vice President, Arabian Peninsula and Turkey
What are the main challenges you face in hotel management and operations?
One of the main challenges facing the industry is talent retention and acquisition: the war on talent. Our ability to ensure we have excellent team members who are well-trained, highly skilled, highly motivated and engaged – this is what guests demand and this is what we work hard to deliver.
A great example of this is the Great Place to Work Survey, where we’ve achieved the number one position for the past three years in KSA, are number one in Turkey and number three here in the UAE. This is across all companies and industries, not just hospitality, and we’re incredibly proud of this achievement as an indicator that our Team Members value working for Hilton.
Another major challenge is understanding and anticipating guests’ changing needs and desires to ensure we deliver a consistently excellent experience to our guests no matter where they’re staying with us around the world.
Guests are increasingly more sophisticated in their choices and it’s our job to stay on top of current trends and anticipate our guests’ needs in terms of hotel design, F&B, technology, the in-room experience, check-in, etc. We do this in a number of ways, but key to this is listening to our customers and knowing our customers, the more we talk to and understand our customers, the better they can tell us what they need.
With some 90 million plus Hilton Honors members, we have a great resource here and we constantly talk to our Honors members and other guests to find out what’s important to them, so we can deliver tailored experiences to our guest across our industry leading portfolio of brands.
Hilton prides itself on its relationship with its guests and has developed programmes and initiatives based on guest feedback and our understanding of guests needs.
The introduction of Digital Key, where guests can book and choose their room using the Hilton Honors app, and then use their mobile phone as a key, is an example of using powerful technology to enhance guest experience. Likewise, the design of hotel lobbies as more social and convenient work spaces for guests is something we know they want, and so we deliver that experience for them.
How do you respond to any type of guest dissatisfaction?
A positive and faultless guest experience is what we aim to deliver to our millions of guests around the world time and time again. When a guest isn’t fully satisfied, we encourage feedback and empower our teams to do all they can to ensure that our guests are heard and listened to, that their concerns are taken seriously and that a resolution is reached as soon as possible to the guest’s satisfaction.
At Hilton, we provide all of our staff with the necessary training required to deal with challenging scenarios, should they arise, to support and help our guests and do our best to make it right whenever a guest may have not been satisfied.
One key pillar of this is our MAKE IT RIGHT campaign. This programme is currently focused on our Hilton Hotels & Resorts and DoubleTree by Hilton brands and focuses on empowering team members to ensure they can handle guest complaints should they arise.
We’re committed to delivering our Brand Promise and building guest loyalty through our MAKE IT RIGHT commitment which is: “If you’re not satisfied with your stay, let us know and we’ll MAKE IT RIGHT.”
With this commitment to our Guests, Team Members are empowered to consistently recognise our most loyal Guests, proactively look for ways to meet unanticipated guest needs and take ownership of resolving guest problems. We believe this programme is a great advantage in addressing guest issues and challenges at our hotels.
Likewise, at our Hampton by Hilton brand, we commit to the Hampton Guarantee – where if you’re not satisfied with your stay and your experience at the hotel, you don’t pay.
However, the Hampton Guarantee is more than just a money-back guarantee, but rather it reinforces the emotional connection that allows the brand to make guests Happy@Hampton. Satisfaction may not always be about getting a refund; guests want to be understood and heard and we work hard to deliver a great guest experience at all our brands and to immediately fix challenges as and whenever they may arise.
What’s your vision for the future of the chain?
As a global company, Hilton has a very clear Vision: “To fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality by delivering exceptional experiences – every hotel, every guest, every time”.
Within the region, our job is to bring that Vision to life and to ensure it makes sense culturally here in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey, delivering the right hotels and brands from our portfolio of industry-leading brands, and ensuring that we’re meeting and exceeding our guests’ needs.
For example, this year we introduced our Hampton by Hilton brand to the UAE with a hotel at Dubai Airport, and a new Hilton Garden Inn Al Jadaf Cultural Village, also opening our first city centre Waldorf Astoria, with a hotel in DIFC.
We’ve signed a Canopy by Hilton, our lifestyle brand, for Avenues Riyadh, and introduced our luxury LXR collection brand to Habtoor City.
We have very robust technology platforms that enable our guests to choose their room on the Hilton App before check in.
We’re also rolling out Connected Room, where guests will be able to use their mobile devices to customise their rooms to meet their experience needs, such as running their own Netflix accounts through the TV in their room, being able to set the temperature in the room, ordering in-room dining or booking a table at a restaurant, all from your mobile phone or tablet, truly enhancing guest experience. It puts guests front and centre and gives them what they want.
One of our key areas of focus is ensuring that we have the best, most motivated Team Members in the industry – and we’re committed to this.
This year, we’ve been voted #1 in Great Place to Work in KSA and Turkey and #3 here in the UAE – we believe this is testament to the great company culture we’ve created in the region which recognises Team Members as individuals, supports diversity in its many forms and allows people the opportunity to grow and thrive with Hilton both professionally and as individuals.