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Conrad Hilton: Understanding the Hotelier & his Contributions to the Hospitality Industry Research Paper


Scholars and practitioners are in agreement that the modern hotel and hospitality industry would not have attained its present status had it not been for the dedicated and passionate contribution of a number of its founders, one of them going by the name of Conrad Hilton.

Indeed, Conrad is perceived by many renowned hoteliers of modern times as the “founding father” of today’s hospitality industry (Lockyer xiii). This paper aims to provide a deep insight into the man who has led the hospitality industry from the front, particularly in relation to his background, company, history, accomplishments, and contributions to the hospitality industry.

Born in 1887 to a Norwegian migrant father and a German-American mother, Conrad Nicholson Hilton rose from humble backgrounds to build perhaps the best known hotel brand, both in the U.S. and globally.

As observed by family members and business associates, not only did Conrad Hilton project a strong belief in the American dream, but derived his philosophy and might “…from his faith in God, his belief in the brotherhood of man, his patriotic confidence in his country, and his conviction that natural law obligates all humankind to help relieve the suffering and distress of the destitute” (DeFranco 1).

These principles, it is believed, assisted Conrad to establish the business empire that operated, and still operates, under the flagship company – Hilton Hotels Corporation.

Although Conrad Hilton acquired his first hotel, the Cisco Mobley Hotel, in 1919, it was not until 1946 when Hilton Hotels Corporation was formed to take care of the expanding business. Even though the corporation made history in 1947 as the first hotel entity to list its stock on the New York Stock Exchange, it was Conrad Hilton who shook the hotel and hospitality industry to the core when, in the same year, became the president and the largest stockholder of Hilton Hotels Corporation (Reference for Business para. 8).

Additionally, it is the Hilton Hotels Corporation, under the able leadership and guidance of Conrad N. Hilton, which sealed the largest hotel merger in the industry when, in 1954, Hilton Hotels sealed a deal with Ellsworth Milton Statler for the purchase of Statler Hotel Company for $111 million (Reference for Business para. 10).

In 1948, Hilton Hotels Corporation was again instrumental in the establishment of yet another company, the Hilton International Company, to take care of the expanding international hotel business. Today, the company owns, manages, and franchises in excess of 2000 hotels in the U.S. alone, not mentioning that it oversees the operations of Conrad Hotels, the company’s international arm (Reference for Business para. 1).

To write or rewrite the history of Conrad Hilton may, in itself, be self-defeating due to the great influence that Hilton had on the hospitality industry, and which has led hotel commentators to argue that each day was history for this great man (Lockyer 9).

However, it is imperative to note that Conrad Hilton, who lived from 1887 to 1979, left an indelible mark in the hotel and hospitality industry. The hotel mogul, who had earlier wanted to become a banker, bought his first hotel in 1919 in Texas to cash in on the influx of fatigued oil-seekers and railroad travelers (DeFranco 2).

The hotel performed exceedingly well that, in 1925, Conrad Hilton was able to construct the first hotel bearing the ‘Hilton’ name in Dallas. In 1946, the Hilton Hotels Corporation was formed to manage the rapidly expanding chain of hotels, and in 1947, the corporation became the first company ever to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange (Reference for Business para. 29). In 1949, Conrad Hilton bought the lease on the exclusive New York’s Waldorf-Astoria, and in 1953, Conrad, through Hilton International, decided to taste international waters by opening the first European Hilton in Madrid (Lockyer 11).

Hilton International, the company charged with the responsibility of managing Hilton’s international hotels, was transformed into a public company in 1964,and in 1970, the same corporation sought to diversify its business operations by purchasing two casino hotels in Las Vegas. As already mentioned, Conrad Hilton died in 1979, but not without demonstrating to practitioners in the hotel industry that he was a force to reckon with.

In terms of accomplishments, it is important to note that Conrad Hilton is still regarded as one of the founding fathers of today’s hospitality industry, not mentioning that his company, Hilton Hotels Corporation, was the first hotel company to list its stock on the New York Stock Exchange.

Having started with only one hotel in 1919, Conrad Hilton was by 1953 sampling the international hotel scene, an accomplishment that the feint hearted can only dream to achieve. In 1954, Conrad Hilton was at the center of the largest hotel merger in the industry when Hilton Hotels Corporation bought the Statler Hotel Company for a staggering $111 million (Reference for Business para 10).

The merger, in my view, must have been one of the greatest accomplishments for Conrad Hilton. Lastly, although Conrad is long dead, he still touches and improves the lives of the disadvantaged and the destitute through his own personal initiative – the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, which not only assist the homeless and people suffering from HIV, alcoholism, and drug abuse, but also assist numerous non-governmental organizations to sustain and expand the impact of their work (Conrad N. Hilton Foundation para. 1).

Lastly, it is indeed true that Conrad Hilton has impacted the hotel industry in a positive yet disarming manner. It is obvious that Conrad’s management style, philosophy and values are variants that can be imitated or adopted by practitioners in the hotel industry to achieve success.

Conrad had the capacity to buy underperforming hotels and convert them into cash-flowing assets, not mentioning that he is credited for developing innovative joint-venture arrangements that were later adopted by hotel owners as the standard industry practice (Lockyer 12). These and other contributions demonstrate that Conrad was indeed a man that stood above the rest.

Works Cited

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Web.

DeFranco. . Web.

Lockyer, Timothy L.G. The International Hotel Industry: Sustainable Management. Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press, Inc. 2007.

Reference for Business. – Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Hilton Hotels Corporation. 2011. Web.

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IvyPanda. "Conrad Hilton: Understanding the Hotelier & his Contributions to the Hospitality Industry." May 15, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/conrad-hilton-understanding-the-hotelier-his-contributions-to-the-hospitality-industry/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Conrad Hilton: Understanding the Hotelier & his Contributions to the Hospitality Industry." May 15, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/conrad-hilton-understanding-the-hotelier-his-contributions-to-the-hospitality-industry/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Conrad Hilton: Understanding the Hotelier & his Contributions to the Hospitality Industry'. 15 May.

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