Hilton Worldwide's Chris Nassetta talks travel, burgers and how to artfully fold a shirt

Hilton Worldwide President & CEO Chris Nassetta

Chris Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton Worldwide and perhaps the company's most recognized business traveler, took a moment during this year’s SAHIC conference—where he was the keynote speaker—to reveal to HOTEL MANAGEMENT the Hilton services and amenities that are most important to him when he’s on the road—even divulging what the omnivores among us want most: a good burger recommendation.

1. What’s the first thing you do when you arrive to your hotel room?

These days, the first thing I use is Hilton’s cool new digital key. It’s now in almost 500 of our hotels around the world and, hopefully, it will be largely distributed by the end of next year and into the first part of 2018. So guests won’t have to go to the front desk anymore.

Then I have very simple habits. [First], I always unpack. I sometimes change clothes twice a day and so I can be maniacal about packing and unpacking. I have a system that requires a garment bag because it’s so incredibly efficient, but I must unpack it or my shirts will get wrinkled. If I can’t unpack, it drives me crazy and I don’t feel settled. I rarely check luggage and rarely use hotel dry-cleaning services unless my shirts are really bad. But I also have a foolproof folding system: I had six shirts packed in my garment bag for a 24-hour trip and when I unpacked, they were perfect. And I do pack my own bags. If I asked my wife to pack for me, she’d say pack your bags and get out.

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I also carry a traditional Dopp [toiletry] kit that my brother-in-law gave me when he ran Cole Haan and I love it and have carried it for years. There are a few things that I don’t carry in it, however, like mouthwash, which isn’t a standard offering at all Hilton brands, but at the luxury brands, and I don’t carry lotion. Our bath amenities from the Peter Thomas Roth brand are spectacular, particularly the body lotion. The smell, the texture, I love everything about it. I also don’t carry soap when I travel; I use the bar of Peter Thomas Roth grippy soap.

Chris is partial to Peter Roth amenities.

2. Which Hilton hotel service do you use most often when traveling for business?

The hotel F&B. It could be as simple as grabbing and going if it’s a focused-service hotel or, a full-service restaurant in a full-service hotel. I’ll frequently use the full-service restaurants to entertain. When I travel, we’ll generally try to congregate a bunch of our team and hotel dining is a great way to get our team together. It’s also simple because everyone is already at the hotel and it allows our culinary teams from around the world to show off their talents. I also love to entertain customers and owners at our hotels’ full-service restaurants because it is such a wonderful way to highlight the great works of our culinary teams. When left to my own devices, I just order something from the menu. But when we’re traveling around the world and it’s event driven, the hotel GM will generally define the menu and it will frequently be associated with regional specialties.

Chris enjoys eating in Hilton's full-service restaurants, like, here, at the Hilton Chicago's 720 South Bar & Grill.

3. Most memorable dining experience while staying at a Hilton property?

The last time I traveled alone, I was staying at a Hilton Garden Inn, in Charlottesville, Va., on a Saturday night because one of my daughters is at UVA, and I had a "Gus Burger," which is a local delicacy: a cheeseburger topped with an egg. Let me tell you, it’s a mean burger. Then I used the fitness center on property the next morning with my wife because, yes, I needed to.

That's a good burger, Chris.

4. Is there a Hilton offering that you haven’t yet had a chance to take advantage of?

I just tried one out. I’m not a big Uber user, not that I don’t think it’s a great service; my kids use it all the time. But I used the Uber connection that’s on our HHonors app the same night that I had the Gus Burger in Charlottesville to get myself back to the hotel from an event.

Also, I haven’t yet used the "Local Scene" feature of our app, which is a list of area hot spots based on Uber usage, but I am dying to try it. I haven’t yet for the simple reason that I’m so heavily scheduled when I travel and never wondering what I’m going to do for dinner tonight. I hope that one day I may wonder just that, but given the breadth and depth of our business and the necessity of travel, I just haven’t had the time to use the feature.

Chris still hasn't used the Local Scene function on the Hilton app. What are you waiting for, Chris?!

5. The hotel business center: practical or peace of mind?

It’s part peace of mind and part practical. The business center is evolving and you’re going to see that in a modern context as it’s integrated into public space, especially hotel lobbies. There may be an alcove for it.

I use our business centers when I need to print something because I have old habits that die hard. All I carry when I travel is my iPhone 6. I don’t carry a laptop because I don’t need to generate a large number of documents, but I do review a lot of documents. So since it’s hard to write notes on my phone, I’ll go to the business center to print the document so I can write notes on it.

Chris still likes to use copiers and print paper out. (That is not Chris above.)

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