Hilton’s explosive growth gives many more options for travelers – The Points Guy

Hilton Honors members increasingly have more options to earn and redeem points — and the broader traveling public has more opportunities to check out a Hilton-affiliated hotel.

The hotel giant opened more rooms in the last three months of 2023 than in any quarter in company history, Hilton announced this week amid the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in Los Angeles. Hilton added 24,000 rooms across 132 new hotels in the fourth quarter, bringing its new hotel count for the year to 395.

Last year was marked by the addition of new brands like the premium economy Spark and the extended-stay LivSmart Studios.

“The ownership community understands where the demand is, so the ownership community is often pulling us towards these products as well, particularly LivSmart, which was sort of the ultimate joint venture between us and the ownership groups,” said Kevin Jacobs, Hilton’s chief financial officer and president of global development, during a press roundtable this week at ALIS.

More hotels and new brands are on the way

The first Signia by Hilton, the company’s convention-oriented brand, opened this month in Atlanta. The company has also teased a new luxury lifestyle brand is in the works.

Hilton added 1,000 more hotels to its development pipeline last year, and there are a combined 130,000 rooms planned across all those deals. The company’s 3,300-hotel and more than 462,000-room pipeline is now the biggest in Hilton history.

“Our strategy is to be the premium player in every segment that we go into,” added Chris Silcock, president of global brands and commercial services at Hilton. “We want to deliver the highest quality, most consistent branded experience. Our brand teams do that by focusing on product service and technology. How do we bring those things together to design brands that meet certain customer segment needs or trip occasions?”

Opening the door for new Hilton hotel owners

Hilton also rolled out a new program this week aimed at bringing in newer owners to its ecosystem. The company’s Unlocking Doors program, which launched this week, focuses on creating a pathway to hotel ownership for entrepreneurs new to the industry or those who have faced challenges in securing money to move ahead with a hotel project.

The program works with partners to connect small and medium-sized businesses with lenders willing to underwrite a hotel project. It can help foster more diversity in the hotel ownership community after years of the industry not being known as an inclusive space.

“We’re trying to create a community with these owners where they can learn from each other and learn from us,” Jacobs said.

New customer tech offerings in the works

Hilton has typically been viewed as more ahead of the pack when it comes to tech offerings like mobile check-in and checkout, as well as advance room selection from the Hilton Honors app. The company also offers confirmed connecting room options when guests go to book their rooms online or via the app.

More tech features are in development, including more dynamic packages and experiential offerings. Guests could eventually be able to change things like breakfast or dinner add-ons by the individual day of an entire stay instead of having it run the entire duration of a visit, Silcock said.

Additionally, there could one day be more booking capabilities for amenities like spa treatments directly from the app instead of having to call ahead directly to the hotel.

Where Hilton could go next

The Hilton leadership has also been vocal about further opportunities in the all-inclusive resort space like many of its competitors have done. Like Marriott, Hilton operates in this space with its existing lineup of brands rather than a singular brand only known for an all-inclusive experience.

Not to sound impatient, but TPG asked what else might be in store from a brand perspective for Hilton beyond the luxury lifestyle offering in the works that would compete in a lane currently led by offerings like Marriott’s Edition and W brands.

“I don’t know that there’s another obvious pure white space sort of out there,” Jacobs noted. “I mean, you could think about ultra-luxury, but I don’t know. I think more of the things you could see us do are more in the experiential aspect.”

So basically, expect more high-profile experiences to go with your Hilton Honors program rather than Aman by Hilton rolling out anytime soon — though being able to redeem Hilton Honors points at an Aman does sound lovely.

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