Hilton CEO: ‘we had a blockbuster weekend’

By: Wajeeh Khan
Wajeeh Khan
Wajeeh is an active follower of world affairs, technology, an avid reader, and loves to play table tennis in… read more.
on Jun 1, 2021
  • U.S. hotel bookings increased in recent days on the back of vaccine rollouts.
  • Hilton CEO says pent-up demand in business and meetings is yet to be released.
  • Hilton shares are currently more than 15% up year to date in the stock market.

Hotel bookings rose sharply in recent days as America continued to get vaccinated, giving people confidence that they’d be able to travel freely, at least domestically, in the summer season. CEO Christopher Nassetta of Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc (NYSE: HLT) sat with CNBC on Tuesday to discuss the latest rise in demand for hotels and resorts.

CEO Christopher Nassetta’s comments on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”

Nassetta acknowledged that the call volume jumped massively in recent days. On “Squawk Box”, the chief executive said:

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“We had a blockbuster weekend. On Saturday night, we were almost 93% occupied across the United States, which is certainly the best since the start of the pandemic, and probably the best Saturday night we’ve ever had.”

Nassetta highlighted that the recovery was primarily confined to leisure at the moment, but expressed confidence that business travel and meetings segments were also starting to show signs of improvement that are likely to catch pace later this year and into 2022.

Bookings for this summer, as per the CEO, are higher at this point compared to the peak seen in 2019 (pre-pandemic), due to the pent-up demand that is finally coming into play – thanks to the vaccine rollouts.  

Pent-up demand in business and meetings is yet to be released

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed companies into using online platforms like Zoom for communication. But Nassetta is positive that employers and employees alike would want to revert to in-person meetings as the economy reopens completely. He said:

“According to a lot of our big corporate customers, it (COVID-19 crisis) has been a difficult time. Thanks to the technology, it’s been manageable, but it’s not sustainable. It’s counterproductive for the company culture, it prevents collaboration, innovation, and other things that are necessary to drive their strategy. Leaders across a broad range of industries have realised that business travel is a necessary part of doing business. So, there’s a lot of pent-up demand in business and meetings that will be released in the fall and into the next year.”

Hilton Worldwide is making huge investments internationally to expand its footprint around the globe. Currently, it operates in 121 countries – about 60% of its business is outside the U.S.

The McLean-headquartered hospitality company reported its financial results for the fiscal first quarter in the first week of May. Shares of the company opened at $128.50 (£90.61 billion) on Tuesday and are currently exchanging hands at $126.05.

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