Christopher Nassetta shares his vision for Hilton's second century

Christopher Nassetta will deliver a keynote address at IHIF. Photo credit: Questex (IHIF 2019)

At the International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin, Christopher Nassetta, president/CEO, Hilton, will deliver a keynote address, “Leading for Performance: The CEO’s Vision.” During the session, he will share his experiences on leading a 100-year-old brand into the future, discussing his strategy to sustain and boost the performance of a major company.

Ahead of the conference, Nassetta spoke about Hilton's growth plans, the value of tourism and the importance of the luxury segment.

1. How would you describe the hotel investment market in 2019?   

My outlook is generally positive—fundamentals are strong and we are living in a golden age of travel, with middle classes growing around the world and more people than ever traveling and seeking out unique experiences. We saw 1.32 billion international tourist arrivals [worldwide] in 2017, and we expect that number will continue to grow, fueling continued development across the globe. And considering that travel and tourism accounts for one in 10 jobs worldwide today, there’s a big economic upside from continued investment in our industry.   

2. What is Hilton’s position and strategy for the year to come?  

At Hilton, we truly believe that 2019 will be our most dynamic year yet. We celebrate 100 years of hospitality this year—a milestone that few companies reach. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate all we have achieved and to put a stake in the ground toward the future. With the launch of three new brands, innovations like the first truly mobile-centric Connected Room and expansion into eight new countries, in 2019 we plan to pioneer the way for the next century of hospitality.  

3. What existing hotel brands do you think are most interesting to watch?  

We are always focused on what is happening within our industry, but my priority is our guests, rather than the competition. As a business of people serving people, we care deeply about understanding and delivering on what our guests want and need through our unique approach to customer-inspired innovation. Regardless of what other brands are doing, we are laser focused on delivering the right products, in the right destinations, at the right price—and wrapping it all in our signature Hilton hospitality.  

4. Who or what is the biggest inspiration guiding your career?  

I’ve been lucky enough to have several mentors throughout my career, but I would say that my biggest inspiration is our Hilton family and the tremendous positive impact we are able to have when we work together. Over the last 100 years, together we have generated $1 trillion in economic impact, served 3 billion guests and employed 10 million team members—a phenomenon known as the Hilton Effect. I don’t know what could be more inspiring than leading and working alongside the incredible people who will continue to make the Hilton Effect a reality for years to come.  

5. What are you most looking forward to at IHIF?  

IHIF is always a great event, and without question, my favourite part about spending this time in Berlin is the opportunity to connect with so many outstanding industry representatives from around the world.  

6. You are taking part in the CEO Interview – ‘Leading for Performance: The CEO’s Vision’ where we look forward to learning how you intend to innovate and stay relevant in this fast-paced environment. There has been much written recently about Hilton’s strategic move into the luxury space in the hospitality industry. What does luxury mean to you?  

Luxury is an incredibly important part of our strategy and one that we have been very focused on in recent years. We know that these marquee properties and experiences are important to many of our guests across segments, particularly our most loyal Hilton Honors members. That’s why we continue to be among the fastest-growing companies in the luxury space, across Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts, as well as our new LXR Hotels & Resorts brand.  

Nassetta will be speaking on “Leading for Performance: The CEO’s Vision,” 5:10 p.m. – 5:35 p.m. on March 4 during the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF), which takes place March 4-6 at the InterContinental Hotel, Berlin. IHIF is presented by Questex, the parent company of Hotel Management Magazine.