Hilton sees expansion opportunities in Central Asia, plans eco-friendly future

NUR-SULTAN – This year, Hilton celebrates its 100th anniversary of hospitality with nearly 5,900 hotels in 114 countries. In Kazakhstan, the brand is represented by three hotels in Nur-Sultan – Hilton Astana, Hampton by Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn – and one hotel in Almaty, the Double Tree by Hilton.

The Astana Times spoke with Simon Vincent, Hilton’s Executive Vice President and President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa to learn more about its expansion in the Central Asia market and energy-saving measures of the company during his first visit to Kazakhstan in mid-July.

Responsible for 526 hotels in 66 countries, Vincent is focused on the economy and the culture in the countries where they operate.

“The objective of my visit is also to celebrate some of the successes that our team members have achieved over the last five years since we’ve been opening the first hotel,” he said.

A friendly welcome and consistent service can be recognised as the main benefits of staying at Hilton hotels.

“Most importantly, our brands do represent quality,” explained Vincent. “Our brands command a premium in the marketplace. Customers will pay more to stay at a Hilton hotel than a competing hotel. And that’s principally because they recognise the value that they get in terms of the welcome, the service, the quality of the product and the overall quality of the experience.”

The company has a loyalty programme for 94 million members globally who receive benefits including a member discount, free standard Wi-Fi, when they book directly through preferred Hilton channels. Hilton has 17 brands ranging from budget to luxury.

Central Asia has always been “a pivotal region in the trade between the east and the west,” he said. Hilton has plans to enter the markets of Tajikistan and Pakistan.

“There’s a lot of emerging economies, there’s a lot of wealth in natural resources in this region. Therefore, there are a lot of opportunities for hotel companies to develop their products in these countries. Our business is all about supply and demand. We see a rising demand for good quality, internationally branded hotel beds in Central Asia… We see an opportunity to develop our brands and our portfolios,” he said.

The company also helps develop human capital and support youth by work with universities and federal education institutions to bring young people into the hotel business to help them develop and progress.

“People are at the heart of our business. And, therefore, we spend a lot of time making sure that we recruit the best talent that we develop that talent and those people have career opportunities. We are a significant global employer. We are officially as of this year the number two among one of the best places to work in the world. We’re only as good as the talent that we recruit. People are absolutely at the heart of everything we do,” he said.

Hilton also plans to halve its environmental footprint by 2030 and focus on energy efficiency, including water, heating, the emission of carbon and the elimination things like plastics.

“Hilton Astana as our new hotel got a very sophisticated building management system that is very energy efficient. But equally, this hotel is committed to reducing plastics and eliminating plastic straws. It’s all part of our overall purpose. We encourage people to be environmentally aware and conscious of the impacts of their travels on the environment. We’re looking to help them achieve an environmentally friendly state,” he said.

Vincent said that the company observes the golden age of travel now despite some global challenges that all industries and businesses face.

“We see tremendous opportunities in the global footprint and our expansion plans. People want to be connected… people want to travel. They want experiences. We’ve seen that over the course of the last five or six years with our growth and notwithstanding the fact that the world is going through some challenging times both geopolitically and economically. We’re still seeing sustained growth in our pipeline of new hotels. Our brands are very strong in the way that they perform. And the economics of running hotels are still very attractive to investors,” he said.

Vincent also noted the company is working to continue the vision of founder Conrad Hilton to spread the light and warmth of hospitality.

“We are doing that in a meaningful way on a global basis. Hiltons have an amazing impact on the world and we like to talk about the Hilton effect. Over the last century, we have employed 10 million team members, served more than 3 billion guests and had a $1 trillion economic impact. It is an amazing fact. We want to leave a strong legacy in the next hundred years as our founder Conrad Hilton first introduced,” he said.