John Vanderslice, Hilton’s global head of luxury and lifestyle brands, has set a very clear objective for himself and his company – to be the world’s fastest-growing luxury hotel company. He seems to be on track as when the Blackstone Group LP had acquired the Hilton Worldwide chain there were only five Waldorf Astorias. Now there are 23 of them with the latest one opening in London three weeks ago. If you compare the growth with their competitors like the Four Seasons then Hilton is ahead in terms of the pace of growth.
It is not simply a mindless growth as the occupancies at these expensive, high end luxury hotels have improved to 67% in the first quarter of this year. It is an increase of 4% over the 63% occupancy recorded last year. Smith Travel Research Inc. has studied the market closely to come up with the revealing figures. Hilton has set a very clear target for the group. They are aiming to increase the number of super luxury rooms to be at least 6% of the total room count under the chain and want those rooms to contribute 15% of the total revenue from the chain.
With the improving economic conditions the luxury customer is back and the focus of the Hilton chain on the super luxury segment has paid off. Though, some analysts and experts in the industry feel that the Waldorf Astoria brand is held in very high esteem and by stretching it too thin Hilton runs the risk of diluting the status of the brand in the customer perception. But Hilton is not perturbed by this analysis and has firm plans of expansion for the coming two years. They plan to double the number of its 16 high-end Conrad hotels, which compete with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Park Hyatt brand and also add eight more Waldorf Astoria properties in two and a half years.