LOS ANGELES: Hilton Hotel CEO Stephen Bollenbach is on a mission to
highlight his company's financial strengths, and to discourage his
industry from seeking government aid.
"He has a particular view in light of September 11 as to how the
industry will rebound and how we'll run our company," explained Marc
Grossman, Hilton's SVP of corporate affairs.
Bollenbach is highlighting two points, which make up what Grossman calls
his "personal theory" on the industry.
His core message is that despite low occupancy levels and staff layoffs
at some Hiltons, the company remains financially sound, and he expects a
rebound in room occupancy early in 2002.
While occupancy rates plummeted in the days after the attacks, they have
risen in recent weeks. Bollenbach predicts that the downturn will start
reversing by the Christmas season.
To show his faith, Bollenbach is continuing with most capital spending
plans for next year, including construction on a new addition to the
Portland, OR Hilton, and remodeling plans in New Orleans and San
Bollenbach is also pushing a more controversial stance: that the hotel
industry should not ask for a federal government bail-out, as the
airlines and insurance industries have recently done.
"We draw the line on direct financial assistance in the form of loans or
grants to a hotel company," said Grossman, who added that general
governmental support of tourism is welcome.
Bollenbach began his campaign the week after the terrorist attacks with
a conference call to investors and analysts. Since then, he has taken
his message to media outlets such as Time, The Wall Street Journal, and
The New York Times. He is also sending out a weekly letter to
Despite the optimism, Grossman admitted that upcoming PR and ad efforts
will be aimed at "getting bodies in the building," largely through rate