Hilton's upscale all-suite brand, Embassy Suites, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year with a new room prototype and a full construction pipeline. M&C recently met with Jim Holthouser, Hilton's global head of full-service brands, for an update.
M&C: How well is Embassy Suites performing?
Holthouser: From a market-share standpoint, we're doing extremely well. Hilton made a huge investment in the Embassy brand between 2005 and 2008 -- everything from flat-screen TVs to better breakfasts to new uniforms. Well over 50 percent of the brand has been completely renovated. It has really reinvigorated the brand's culture.
M&C: Is the brand continuing to expand?
Holthouser: Absolutely. We have 200 hotels, and another 55 are in the pipeline. We also just introduced a one-room suite concept. Our biggest complaint, if you will, from travel managers and meeting planners is they want us in more locations. The one-room suite is an option that helps us reduce the square footage per room key, which is one of the things developers look at when assessing the viability of a project.
M&C: Where do meetings fit into the brand's strategy?
Holthouser: Meetings are 25 to 30 percent of our business; we expect that to remain consistent. Our properties have an average of 5,000 square feet of meeting space, but there is a lot of variance. About 25 of our hotels are next to convention centers and have 50,000 to 125,000 square feet of meeting space. We're now introducing check-in kiosks in every one of our hotels, so when large groups arrive, we won't have a logjam in the lobby.