With Hilton Hotels Corp.'s acquisition of Bally Entertainment Corp. nearly a done deal, and the reuniting of Hilton with Hilton International apparently just a matter of time, new Hilton President and CEO Stephen Bollenbach offered some insight into his growth strategy at a recent press event in Manhattan.
Consolidation in the fragmented gaming industry is inevitable, Bollenbach said, because growth opportunities are declining. In a consolidating industry, it's survival of the biggest, and "we are now the biggest player." The combined companies have more than 100,000 hotel rooms, 18,000 of them in gaming properties, and 15 casinos worldwide. Planned additions include "Star-Trek: The Experience," a Hilton/Paramount Parks collaboration, and a 22,000-square-foot casino, both opening in mid-1997 at the Las Vegas Hilton; and Bally's Paris Casino-Resort, a 3,000-room facility with 85,000 square feet of casino space, opening in early 1998 adjacent to Bally's Las Vegas on the Strip. "The Bally name will absolutely survive," Bollenbach emphasized. "One of the real values in business today is brand names."
Brand recognition is also the reason for the talks between Hilton and Hilton International. "We own one of the best brands, but we haven't made the best use of it," Bollenbach said. "Our biggest hope is to reunite the two Hilton brands [to] tap the power of those names. It appears overwhelming that it will happen."
Meanwhile, Hilton plans to add 10,000 guest rooms, chiefly by acquiring full-service properties.