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.
* Marriott Hotels, Resorts and Suites recently named its first corporate director of convention and meeting services. He's Sam Bonfe, formerly the senior director of catering standards for Marriott International in Washington, DC. Still based in the nation's capital, Bonfe will direct recruiting, training, development, compensation, and motivation of conference and convention services staff for all Marriott brands. He will also coordinate standardization of, master billing, group resumes, and post-convention reports across properties.
* With Juergen Bartels in the saddle, Westin is growing by leaps and bounds. Shortly after being named CEO of Westin Hotels & Resorts last May, Bartels announced his plan to add one hotel a month to the chain over five years. Instead, he's added nearly two hotels per month, through acquisitions or development. Among the hotels coming soon: The Westin Banyan Tree in Bangkok, The Westin Dragonara Resort in Malta, and The Westin Resort, Giza in Egypt.
* The Ramada Meeting Pledge guarantees you'll get the service you expect for your meeting or receive agreed-upon compensation. The pledge states, for example, "Your audiovisual equipment, contracted by you, will be present and in good working order or you will not be charged for the equipment in question, plus a credit of the meeting room charge or $50, whichever is greater, will be given." For a copy of the entire pledge plus a free copy of Ramada's Meeting Planner Workbook, send a request by fax to (201) 428-0322.
* Sheraton targets small meetings. Customers booking meetings from ten to 100 rooms now can work with dedicated small-meetings staff with a guaranteed turnaround time of 24 hours. Call the Small Meeting Group Sales Office in Chicago at (800) 500-1282 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. central time, weekdays.