Posted by Ric Garrido

Blackstone investment group purchased Hilton Worldwide at the height of the real estate bubble in 2007 for $26.7 billion and took the lodging company private. This week Blackstone made Hilton a publicly traded entity by selling  117.6 million shares around $20 each. Insiders report investor demand exceeded supply.

Hilton raised $2.34 billion on Wednesday in the stock market. Hilton started trading as “HLT” Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Blackstone has invested about $6.4 billion in Hilton and still holding a 76.2% stake in the company, their investment is now worth about $15 billion. Blackstone is on course to gain 2.3 times its investment, making the Hilton buyout in 2007 one of the most successful private equity investments of its size.

Other Blackstone owned hotel chains are Extended Stay America which raised $565 million in a November IPO. La Quinta Inn is also expected to go public in 2014.

What does this mean for hotel guests?

Market Watch of the Wall Street Journal published a piece yesterday, What Hilton’s IPO means for hotel guests – Lobbies and loyalty programs both may get revamped. The article shares analysts views of what the IPO revenue will mean at the hotel level. Basically the piece suggests there may be funding to renovate hotel lobbies and some room updates like carpeting and wallpaper.

Hotel chains require their properties to make property improvements, but waivers are common, usually due to the difficulty of acquiring property financing in a tight lending market. Hilton going public as a company supposedly opens up more sources of funding for property improvements.

Phoenix Marketing International is a market research firm with interesting data on loyalty members. Their findings suggest 73% of loyalty members who redeem a free night award also purchase at least one additional room night. For each room redemption the loyalty member purchases 2.1 nights.

Hilton might boost its current rewards structure or improve or add partnerships with airlines, railways, rental cars and more. But, cautions Meliker [managing director and head of real estate and lodging research at boutique investment bank MLV and Company], these rewards program improvements, if they happen, are likely to be things that don’t cost a lot of money.

MarketWatch 12-12-13

After 2013 changes to Hilton HHonors, I don’t look forward to more program enhancements, The addition of Points and Money awards was a good change in a world of loyalty program hurt for HHonors members.

Hopefully, a move to attract new members will mean better loyalty promotions in 2014, but if avoiding changes that cost money, then improved HHonors bonus offers may not be the focal point in the future.

HHonors already has by far the most airline partnerships of any hotel loyalty program, so there seems little room for improvement on that front.

What else can HHonors offer members to improve the program?

According to most hotel guest surveys over the past decade that would seem to be free internet and breakfast.

Sources: Reuters Hilton Worldwide raises over $2.3 billion in biggest-ever hotel IPO (12/11/13)

Wall Street Journal Market Watch What Hilton’s IPO means for hotel guests, Lobbies and loyalty programs both may get revamped (12/12/13).

4 Responses

  1. They could give “real” benefits to Diamond members instead of making it gold plus “meah”……..what’s the point of becoming Diamond if it feels no different than Gold…..

    Comment by JustSaying on December 13th, 2013 at 8:08 am
  2. If we’re honest, its a good scheme. Excellent mid tier benefits vs the competition, points and money is good. Only the pathetic top tier reward pricing is out of whack, along with the airline conversion rate. The premium award pricing is also a joke and if I was Hilton I would be embarrassed to see those numbers come up when I look at award pricing.

  3. With Hilton’s size advantage over Starwood and Hyatt, and consistency and customer service advantage over IHG and Best Western, they’re really well-positioned now.
    As Raffles said, points and money awards are generally appropriately priced (though not always – but not as off-the-wall as premium room rewards), and the bottom 3 to 5 tiers of their award chart can still represent solid value.
    I’m in the middle of my 4th Hilton stay this year, as a credit card Gold, and although the sample size is small, each time I’ve been treated at least as well or better than I’m treated as a Starwood Platinum. Of course there’s no incentive to go for Diamond when I pull suites and lounge access as a Gold, but it’s making me think hard about my strategy for 2014 – both stays and manufactured spend. There are definitely >1cpp redemptions to be had, and Hilton points are more than three times easier to earn than Starpoints, so even the earn and burn math is close – both programs make top-level properties prohibitively expensive on points.
    Anyway, all that to really say that with a few careful changes, Hilton could be the dominant player. Hyatt is too small, Starwood is too inconsistent, and IHG needs to discover customer service and do a massive pruning of properties that don’t meet brand standards or are noncompliant with their program.

  4. Blackstone deserves all the money it can get for turning around the Hampton Inn Brand.

    @Raffles they still have ways to catch up to SPG on the high end categories. Thrown the general increase of hotel nights plus how easy it is obtain Hilton Points it was only given. I would not be surprised if someone went Southwest/Jetblue on us soon.

    Right now the best deal is Hyatt (both points and elite status) but they are just an abomination when it comes locations and prices.

    Comment by StuckInTraffic on December 16th, 2013 at 1:53 pm

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