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Sample Dissertation Paper on The Hilton Worldwide: Industry and Company Analysis

The Hilton Worldwide: Industry and Company Analysis

Section I: Industry Analysis

Industry Classification

The hotel industry forms a major part of the larger hospitality industry, which encompasses various types of businesses including restaurants, lodgings, and theme parks among others. The hotel industry has grown significantly over the last few decades, from small inns to large outfits that comprise the business of today. The hospitality industry thrives because of the contribution of its different sectors, while the hotel industry particularly thrives as a result of the growth in the tourism industry. The conventional definition of a hotel business is a facility that provides accommodation, meals, and other services for traveling consumers. Growth in the tourism industry increases the demand for hotel room services. With increasing projections for tourism growth across the world, it is expected that the hotel industry will expand beyond the current conventional size and profitability. Currently, some of the most active players in the industry globally include Marriott International, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Conrad Hotels, DoubleTree, and others. Each of these hotels contributes to the industry through far-reaching impacts, particularly as a result of their chains of facilities. Each of these hotels offers unparalleled style, world-class service, and exquisite accommodation. They also come with infinite connections.

Industry Growth

The hotel industry has grown significantly over the years. Previously, the hotel was characterized by the operations in small inns and outlets, which have since grown to accommodate a large chunk of the global hospitality industry. According to Hotel Perspectives (2012), the industry was valued at more than $550 billion in 2016, and its revenue continues to increase every year. While the global hotel industry is recognized as a major contributor to national GDPs, particularly in countries where tourism is a major source of revenue, it is difficult to quantify the size of that industry. Moreover, data on the growth and size of the industry is scarce and subjective based on the definition of a hotel and is infrequently available outside the United States. Other factors that contribute to the difficulty in quantifying the industry size include the range of businesses that constitute the hotel industry (from small privately owned businesses to large international groups with multiple facilities; the expanse of the industry, which includes the entire globe; lack of an internationally recognized definition of the term ‘hotel'; and differential grading systems for hotels. As of 2008, it was estimated that the number of hotel rooms was approximately 20.1 million, and this has been growing steadily. The rate of growth of the hotel industry is estimated based on the rate of growth of the number of hotel rooms in the industry, which is currently at 2.2% over five years (Hotel Perspectives, 2012). The chart below gives a summary of the number of hotel rooms across the world.

Distribution of Hotel Rooms by Region (Hotel Perspectives, 2012)

Due to the non-uniform definition of the scope of the hotel industry, it is important to note that these statistics include inns, bed and breakfasts, and any other establishments that provide similar services, hence is an overestimation of the real hotel industry. Other estimations have shown that the industry may comprise of around 11 million rooms. The U.S hotel rooms comprised of more than 65% of the total global hotel room count. With increasing tourism industry arrivals, it is expected that the hotel industry will continue to grow at a pace of 3-4% per year (Hertzfeld, 2018). Because of the dynamic nature of the industry, careers in the hotel industry are mostly fast-paced and challenging, and can be overwhelming. However, those careers are also rewarding as the industry is related to every other industry in the world, with its core objective being to deliver customer service.

Hertzfeld (2018) pointed out that the growth in the hotel industry has resulted in increased labor intensity, which has also contributed to the use of integrated systems that enable hoteliers to manage their data better, increase of non-room related revenue systems, increasing strategic focus on what services guests need to have. Expanded AI uses in the hospitality industry has also been part of the booking process, facilitating faster customer handling procedures. Analytical approaches in the hotel industry also currently constitute a large percentage of the outcomes on revenue, with suggestions that hotel managers should focus on finding automated solutions for hotel pricing. Such technology needs to capture required data, perform analyses on the data, and give feedback that can be used in decision making to foster efficiency.

Government Regulations

The hotel industry, just like most businesses in the hospitality industry, is subject to various government regulations. Adherence to government compliance requirements is an essential part of the required hotel operations. One of the government entities mandated to ensure participation of the hotel industry in the economy is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS is responsible for ensuring that business entities understand and meet their tax obligations by engaging in various activities. The hotel industry participants interact with the IRS by paying taxes on the business revenues and by assisting the federal government in tax collection through withholding of employee income taxes (Barth & Barber, 2017). These are two obligations that hotels have to fulfill alongside others to ensure compliance with IRS requirements.

Hotels also interact with the occupational safety and health administration (OSHA), which is responsible for the safety and health of all working individuals in the nation. OSHA provides regulations that workplaces such as hotels have to adhere to, in order to be fully compliant with the law. The regulations revolve around providing a safe workplace for all employees, purchasing equipment that complies with international safety standards, providing safety checklists and training for all staffs, reporting all workplace incidents, and keeping records of all accidents that occur in the workplace. Hotels also have to provide their employees and customers with information about toxic or unsafe substances (Barth & Barber, 2017). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fosters coordinated government action with respect to environmental protection. EPA also has its regulations for workplaces such as hotel, which require them to adhere to safe environmental practices. Accordingly, some of the requirements for the hotel industry include regulation of environmental pollution through control of waste disposal. Hotels are expected to take care when disposing of toxic wastes and/or chemicals such as those from laundry units into the water or air. They are also expected to adhere to standards for drinking water treatment and waste disposal.

Other entities with which the hotel industry interacts with includes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which ensures proper safety and labeling of food products; the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, which has regulations on handling employee issues such as sexual harassment, discrimination based on age, nationality, and race, and pregnancy discrimination; the department of labor (DOL) also provides regulations on wage, pension, and health benefits, plant closing and layoff practices, employee polygraph protection, and medical and family leave practices. Other regulations come from departments such as citizenship and immigration services, and the department of justice (DOJ) (Barth & Barber, 2017).

Section II: Company Profile

Company Profile

The Hilton Hotels worldwide comprises of several hotel brands that play actively in the global scene. The company has grown from one hotel in Texas to more than 923,000 hotel rooms across 109 countries and is arguably one of the largest companies across the world (Hilton, 2019). With a focus on innovation, commitment, and leadership, Hilton have managed to build a strong competitive advantage among the leading hotels in the world that have led to its increasing profitability even within a challenging environment in which most hotels would crumble. The company has since changed its business model to a franchise model. As of 2013, most of the company's hotels (over 70%) were franchised and fully operated by the franchisees (Martin, 2019). Over the past few years, the number of new facilities owned entirely by Hilton Worldwide has not grown as a result of the franchise model, and the company remains consistently profitable. The hotel chain has developed a culture of happiness, which is one of the characteristics that most of its consumers refer to. The franchisees have to embody this culture in all their operations and to maintain standards at Hilton Worldwide level.

Industry Classification

Now known as Hilton Worldwide, Hilton Hotels Corporation begun in 1919 and has since grown to be the leading hotel in the global hospitality industry. The company headquarters are currently in Fairfax County, Virginia, where it moved in 2009 after being transferred from Beverly Hills, California. Compared to international companies, Hilton was ranked 38th by Forbes in 2013, a position that implies its leadership in the global hotel industry. The company has several brands operating under its portfolio including the Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels, Conrad Hotels and Resorts, and Embassy Suites and Doubletree by Hilton among others. It has also been actively involved in corporate social responsibility, sponsoring the United States Olympic team since 2005 (Hilton, 2019). The company has managed to maintain its competitive advantage based on its business model, which focuses on various elements that promote customer acquisition and retention. For instance, one of the core emphases of the company is on luxury. Through the hotel and resort brands and new acquisitions, Hilton Worldwide has created a niche for itself as a market leader in luxury service delivery. Some of its acquisitions, namely, Conrad Hotels and the Waldorf Astoria hotel, were initially aimed at providing the highest standards of luxury to their customers. These hotels reflect Hilton's value for luxury and service. Additionally, the hotel chain focuses on full service as one of its key values. Hotels offering leisure and business travel by Hilton are located within major city centers where there is access to major global convention centers and destinations. The company also offers curio collections for its customers based on the argument that it serves international customers that may be willing to take home something from the host countries. Considering its value proposition, Hilton competes favorably in the hotel industry. The main competitors, however, include Hyatt, Marriott, and ACCOR group among others. The table below gives a summary of the positions of these key competitors in the market.

Market Positions of Hilton, Marriott International and Starwood Hotels (Martin, 2019)

 

From the table, it is observable that the Hilton Hotels are the leading in terms of the number of hotels. Marriott International, on the other hand, leads in RevPAR, Average daily rate, occupancy, and the number of rooms. The company also has a larger number of hotel rooms across all its facilities. These are some of the indicators of company growth in the hospitality industry and they show that Hilton has been progressive in its industry positioning. With the past and current growth prospects, it is clear that the company will continue to hold onto its market opportunities and expand. In recent years, Hilton Worldwide has expanded its scope of business into casinos and curio services. The holding company, Hilton Worldwide, also deals in other sectors, including financial markets and investment opportunities. Each of these activities contributes to the company revenue, which results in continued growth even in the hotel industry.  

Size and Growth

From its start in 1919, the Hilton Hotels Corporation (Hilton Worldwide), has achieved tremendous growth as a result of its focus on various values that shape all its decisions. The history of the company tells the story of consistent growth spurred by a commitment to purpose and driven by the love of luxury. According to the company's website, the Hilton brand is currently recognized as one of the largest and fastest growing companies in the hospitality industry. From one hotel in 1919, the company currently operates 17 brands located across 113 countries and with more than 5,700 properties across the world. The company's growth began with the initial expansion from one hotel in 1919 to 3 hotels in 1943 following the acquisition of the Plaza, and Roosevelt hotels in the U.S. This made Hilton the first coast-to- coast hotel in the U.S (Hilton, 2019). The company has since made a name through its business deals over the years, creating opportunities that other hospitality industry companies compete to create. For instance, it is reported that Hilton made the first and biggest real estate deal in the 1950s by buying the Statler hotel at $111 million.

The company has grown significantly through the introduction of various new concepts at different times of history. For instance, the franchise business model was introduced in the 1900s, the hotel brand model was introduced in the 2000s, and new concepts in the extended-stay hotel industry were introduced by Hilton in the 2010s. Each of these new concepts is a reflection of the level of innovation under which the company operates, and which contribute to the consistently high stock valuation for the company in the New York Stock exchange. As of 2013, the company was valued at $2.35 billion based on its second IPO (NOLASIA, 2019). From 2013, the value of the company and its stock prices has been increasing, as shown in the chart below. 

Growth in Company Stock Prices (Hilton, 2019)

More recently, Hilton Worldwide completed the spin-off of some of its brands resulting in the development of three independently traded companies. Currently, these entities include Hilton Grand Vacations, Hilton, and Park Hotels and Resorts. This can also be considered as part of the evidence of a rapidly growing company, which is expected to continue taking its position as a global leader in the hotel industry. The company’s corporate governance is one of the strengths associated with its performance in the hospitality industry, and which has continued to ensure that the right investment decisions are made.

Company Profitability

Factors Affecting Profitability

The hotel industry’s profitability is affected by several factors and is measured based on several key expected outcomes. At Hilton, the factors affecting profitability can be divided into three categories, as discussed by Alvarez- Ferrer and Campa-Planas (2018). These categories include financial, management, and generic factors. Each of these categories addresses specific elements of the hotel industry operations, and which companies in the industry can control only to some extent. The financial factors, for instance, comprise of elements such as indebtedness, the company size, operating leverage, and margin and asset turnover values. For the Hilton Worldwide company, indebtedness is considered one of the areas of opportunity in terms of profitability. The business model run by the company has resulted in a relatively low need for indebtedness as most of the locations are operated by the franchisees' funds. The Hilton group provides the brand and obtains revenue through the brand without incurring operating costs. This implies that where their competitors would need to engage in debt funding for operating costs, the Hilton Worldwide company utilizes other people's funds to obtain revenue. The advantage of this is that the company runs at a lower probability of indebtedness, resulting in higher profit margins.

The company has the benefit of company size as a contributor to profitability. As one of the leading companies in the hotel industry and with the number of hotels run by the company, it is recognized that its size would foster reliability and consistency in service delivery. The requirement that franchises affiliated with the company maintain similar standards also contributes significantly to the company's profitability since what a consumer gets in a Hilton hotel in one location would be similar to what is obtained from another location. Moreover, the connection to several brands expands the range of opportunities for the company, in that customers who identify with the other brands also contribute revenue to Hilton Worldwide. The operating leverage and margin and asset turnover values also contribute to profitability due to increased capacity for operations. The company provides access to luxurious facilities, which most clients seeking highly rated hotels would look for, hence promoting its profitability.

The management factors include corporate social responsibility and the management system. The Hilton Worldwide management system, namely, the franchising business model, has also contributed to its profitability. Recognized as one of the leading franchise chains in the world, this business model has enabled the Hilton group to integrate large establishments with the benefit of revenue outcomes (NOLASIA, 2019). The model has also enabled the company to find sufficient numbers of investors with the right amounts of required resources, which contribute to its profitability, unlike other companies who may find it difficult to access investors without the franchise business model. Engagement in corporate social responsibility, on the other hand, has resulted in increased recognition of the role of Hilton in the world systems. For instance, through support provided to courses such as Olympic competitions, the hotel would be recognized as an active participant in the promotion of sports, which increases brand recognition, and subsequently, revenue. Some of the outcomes that are linked to the company's commitment to corporate social responsibility include recognition on the Dow Jones sustainability index, recognition as the most just company and recognition as the best corporate steward in 2018. All these contribute to brand recognition and increased profitability.

Another management related factor is the company's environment conservation practices. Hilton Worldwide became the first company in the hospitality industry to commit to reducing their carbon footprints and energy consumption through reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The company also became one of the first to commit to the ‘no soap to landfill' initiative, which targeted the reduction of land pollution. Such activities promote recognition as an environmentally conscious company, which appeals to environmentalist groups and promotes their capacity to support Hilton. Moreover, the commitment to reduce energy consumption and wastage has a direct impact on the economic profitability of the hotel in that reduction of fuel, water, and electricity consumption results in expense reduction, which eventually maximizes profit margins.

The concept of yield management can also be said to contribute to the company’s profitability. Alvarez-Ferrer and Campa-Planas (2018) define yield management as the capacity to market the right product to the right customer and at the right price. Hilton's business model has stratified its markets to target different customers. Having luxury hotels, full-service hotels, and casinos as part of their product range implies that the company targets different consumers based on need. For instance, the luxury hotel is directly marketed to high-end customers who require service above the standards while the full-service hotels cater to the needs of a wide variety of consumers. If these two products are marketed at the right time and in the right way, they are bound to increase company profitability. Yield management is one of the difficult factors to achieve since it is also affected by multiple other factors, including variation in demand, relatively fixed capacity, perishable goods inventory, and high fixed prices among others. Hilton has, however, managed to address each of these concerns significantly over the years.

In terms of generic factors, longevity and location are considered as the key variables. Longevity translates to the period in which a company has been in business. Any company that has been in business for more than five years is considered to be sufficiently stable to maintain its operations. Through its almost one century of operation, it is deductible that Hilton Worldwide has attained a recognizable degree of longevity, which not only makes it possible to remain in business but also increases its chances for profitability. Similarly, the locations of the hotels and the company's other businesses have also contributed to its profitability. The decision to have full-service facilities located in city centers is one of a strategic nature based on the characteristics of customers targeted by those facilities. Similarly, the company has also continued to find prime locations for its businesses, resulting in significant competitive advantage. Alvarez-Ferrer and Campa-Planas (2018) point out that the location of a business should be determined by the business strategy with which it is operated. The match between location and business strategy, as observed in the case of Hilton, contributes to observable differences in profit margins.

Product Segmentation

While various factors affect the profitability of Hilton’s business, the company’s product segmentation also results in various positive outcomes. In recent years, Hilton has managed to segment its products based on specific customer characteristics. Each of the brands currently run by Hilton is dedicated to a particular target market and with specific facilities catering for those needs. For instance, there is a luxury brand that caters for customers who need exceptionally high quality of products. This includes Conrad and Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts. The full-service brand caters for the needs of a wide variety of clients who have varying needs. They suit those who travel for both business and leisure and provide access to a variety of services, amenities, and conference facilities both within the hotel and outside. Examples of this brand include curio collection by Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, and Tapestry Collection by Hilton (Dobrosielski & Fox, 2019). Additionally, other brands target focused service such as Hilton gardens; lifestyle such as Canopy by Hilton; and timeshare such as Hilton Grand Vacations. From the names and the quality of service delivery, it is expected that the various brands do satisfy specific customer needs.

The Hilton business model can further be described as segmented into three categories, namely, property ownership; franchising and property management; and property timeshares. The timeshares refer to businesses in which Hilton sells individual timeshares to investors. As of 2018, the company had sold timeshares in 47 of its properties, which included approximately 7,657 individual shares. As of 2016, the company owned 4,734 hotels as part of its franchise and hotel management market segment, with more than 738,724 rooms (Dobrosielski & Fox, 2019). In terms of property ownership, on the other hand, the company had 141 hotels with at least 57,716 rooms. The objectives of specific customers will thus determine the properties to which they are exposed.

Degree of Company Concentration

Hilton Worldwide has penetrated international markets in the hotel industry through small and large investments. Dobrosielski and Fox (2019) define company concentration as the extent to which small and large enterprises co-exist within a company structure. Alternatively, the company concentration could be defined as its reach to the global populations. Dobrosielski and Fox (2019) describe Hilton’s progress in the international market, focusing on the companies spread across the globe. In particular, the authors mention the increasing opening of five-star hotels across the world, indicating that one in every five five-star hotels in the world today is a Hilton. With the currently large number of hotels and construction of additional ones under the umbrella of Hilton, it is expected that the company's concentration across the globe will increase. By entering into 20 more countries by 2020 as projected, Hilton Worldwide will be increasing its reach across the globe. It is, therefore, deductible that Hilton has a significant concentration both in the U.S and beyond. There are some of the company's brands that currently exist only in the U.S such as the curio brands, while others exist across multiple countries in the world. The company also considers the limitless opportunity for growth by bringing brands into new markets. While serving mostly the high end, it is justifiable to label Hilton as one of the most concentrated luxury hotels across the world.

Price Factors

In a report by Mest (2018), Hilton reportedly revised its pricing model to a more customer-centric approach. Price is considered one of the key elements of the marketing mix for any product, and as such a key determinant in business profitability. The new pricing model proposed by the Hilton CEO was aimed at providing customer flexibility to ensure that guests can pay what they are willing to pay. Customers who desire to pay more would do so while those who are unwilling would opt out. The model particularly focuses on later check-out times as well as later booking cancelations and so on. The objective of the model was to reduce the rate of last minute cancelations and enhance the number of guestrooms available at the company facilities. The model would result in the elimination of the best available rates program, which is considered a necessity for the company to increase the range of choices for the customers.

Company Vision; Mission; Guiding Principles

 To grow to its current level and continue expanding, the Hilton Worldwide company is founded on strong values that define its mission and vision statements. The company’s vision is to "fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality by delivering exceptional experiences at every hotel, to every guest and every time." This vision speaks of the intention to satisfy customer needs through delivering utility and is aligned to the customer-centric service model that the company embodies. Maintaining exceptional experiences every time would imply consistency; hence, the requirement that all the company's franchises should adhere to the set operating standards (Hilton, 2019). The company’s mission, on the other hand, is to be the most hospitable company in the world. This is to be accomplished through the creation of heartfelt experiences for customers, creation of meaningful team opportunities, and the creation of high value for owners while also having a positive impact for the communities. The awards received by the company in corporate governance, particularly the consideration of Hilton as a happy place, all indicate the company’s emphasis on its impacts on all stakeholders.

To walk towards the organizational mission and vision goals, Hilton is guided by a set of values from which the company name is extracted as an acronym. These values include hospitality, integrity, leadership, teamwork, ownership, and now (Hilton, 2019). The value of hospitality reflects the company's passion for delivering exceptional customer experience; integrity portrays the intention always to do the right thing at the right time; leadership indicates the willingness to take the initiative for changes in the community; teamwork is a reflection of the company's commitment to team collaboration in all activities; ownership is the responsibility for individual actions and decisions as required by the company; while now reflects the sense of urgency with which the company treats every probable decision. Each of these values is reflected in how the company does its business as well as in its market segmentation practices.

External Environment Evaluation

Hilton Worldwide operates in an industry that is becoming increasingly competitive, yet with multiple opportunities for growth. Currently, the company reports that it still has great opportunities for growth, some of which can be pursued without significant hindrances. One of the major opportunities coming up in the hotel industry is the use of technology to fasten activities. A company such as Hilton Worldwide has sufficient resources to invest in all types of technology, which not only improve the efficiency of operations but also reduce the costs associated with such operations. For instance, the use of AI in the hospitality industry can significantly reduce the labor intensity of certain tasks in the industry, to improve the efficiency of booking and cancelations through online platforms and to promote greater profitability through increased capacity to serve customers. The company can treat this as an opportunity for greater profitability, and focus on investing in new technologies to promote handling of perishable products as well. Brandau (2018) pointed out that players in the hotel industry need to be able to leverage new technologies to acquire new customers as well as to protect their already owned market spaces from new entrants into the industry. As such, the technological advancements in the industry have the perfect role as an opportunity.

Increasing trends in tourism, particularly based on lifestyle changes and business can also be considered an opportunity for growth not only for Hilton Worldwide but also for other players in the same industry. Identification of opportunities in areas such as financial markets, investments, and real estates, has been a real game changer to companies in the hospitality industry; and while Hilton has significantly taken advantage of this as an opportunity, there is increasing need to be even more ardent at pushing for a niche in it. Companies such as McDonald's, which also use the franchising business model, have been able to increase profitability by leveraging the real estate on which their brands are built as a competitive advantage and as their core business.

The company faces various challenges that can be considered as threats. For instance, one of the core threats in the hotel industry is increasing competition. The hotel industry had changed significantly from the times when the focus was on small entities such as inns and restaurants to a time when the focus is on larger entities. The emergence of new participants into the industry makes the competition dynamics more complex, resulting in the need to be more proactive to change. Advancements in technology are, however, available that existing companies such as Hilton Worldwide can use to showcase their strengths to new and existing customers. Fluctuations in international tourist arrivals also form another challenge to the industry due to the unpredictability of demand (Brandau, 2018). For a company like Hilton Worldwide, fluctuations in travels may be a source of concern due to the need for perishable goods and effective financial planning. Other challenges include political turbulence in some countries, which hinders growth into those countries, and economic instability.

Competitive Analysis

In the modern day hospitality industry, it is clear that competition is a major part of the game. For Hilton Worldwide, the major competitors have been companies such as Marriott International, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, and ACCOR Hotels. Most of these competitors have significant strengths, some of which are comparable to those of Hilton Worldwide, particularly in terms of company size and concentration. All the hotels serve the same category of customers that Hilton targets, hence the intensity of competition. Marriott International, for instance, has a stronger market presence globally compared to Hilton. It has about 30 brands spread across 130 countries in more than 6,500 facilities (Marriott, 2019). This implies that it has a stronger concentration and greater reach, and thus a major competitor to Hilton's business. Other strengths associated with Marriott include its strong customer-oriented culture and focus on diversity.

The Intercontinental Hotels Group offers significant competitive value to Hilton Worldwide. At a concentration almost equal to that of Hilton, the IGH offers significant value to customers, particularly through its combination of affordability and luxury. Spread in more than 100 nations and with approximately 5,656 facilities and more than 760,000 rooms, IGH offers strong competitive capacity. Additionally, it has its origins in the UK, unlike the Hilton hotel. These figures indicate that the company has a great profitability potential, and just like Hilton, is in a position to utilize technological advancements for organizational growth. Cultural diversity is another strength with which the hotel is associated, set out policies and standards that reflect the company's position in environmental, political, and social issues. While Hilton Worldwide also focuses on corporate social responsibility and environmental management, the fact that IGH uses their activities in those areas as key organizational defining factors sets the company apart from the rest, making it a strong competitor especially among the environmentally focused customers.

Other competitors such as Hyatt Hotels and Resorts and the ACCOR hotels offer distinctive features that could be a threat to Hilton Worldwide. Hyatt Hotels offers weaker competition in comparison to the aforementioned competitors. With only 171,133 hotel rooms as of 2017, it is clear that the spread of the hotel is lower compared to others. The key strength of this hotel, however, is in its ability to take advantage of technological advances to build its customer service capacity. The differences between the hotel's website and those of the bigger chains are noticeable, particularly in the fact that it includes online reservation platforms where a potential customer can easily identify hotels in his/her locality and make reservations without necessarily having to go through multiple pages of the website (Hyatt, 2019). Additionally, the company has used its website extensively to market its offers, unlike the other competitors who have their websites describing the hotel chains at the first impression. Accor Hotels also offers more than 1,000 hotels to select from. Albeit smaller than Hilton Worldwide and the other competitors, Accor has taken advantage of the internet and technology as a whole to ensure that information about it is shared with the customers. This is considered a competitive advantage because the current business environment is such that technology is changing the conventional workplace and companies that are willing to adapt to new technologies are better placed for sustainable performance.

Value Chain Analysis

The hotel industry value chain comprises of several key components. According to Odoom (2012), the first component in that value chain is the inbound logistics. Inbound logistics refers to service providers and suppliers. In the hotel industry, coordination between the suppliers and the hotel management is paramount to ensure effective delivery of services. The industry deals with perishable products and being able to manage the delivery of such products requires consideration of the needs and requirements at each stage of service delivery. For Hilton Worldwide, having strong relationships with suppliers can help to maintain effective service delivery and to ensure that all customer needs are met if and when needed. Strong communication capacity is required for the company to ensure all the activities between the suppliers and the users are coordinated effectively.

The second feature of the value chain is the operations. The operations aspect entails all activities between raw material supply and delivery of customer value. When addressing the concept of operations in the hotel industry, the focus is usually on the service delivery aspect, which includes the use of supplier delivered products to bring value to the customer. A wide range of services and products are involved in operations, including handling customer booking issues, taking care of customer needs while in residence, ensuring customer satisfaction, and focusing on the use of new technology to promote customer experience. Administrative functions included documentation of customer needs, cleaning, and generally keeping facilities visitor friendly. At Hilton, improving productivity during the delivery of operations requires a continuous focus on human resources capabilities to ensure that the right people are hired, trained, and motivated to perform their roles effectively.

Another aspect of the hotel industry value chain is the marketing and sales feature. The objective of sales and marketing in any organization is usually to ensure that goods and/or services are pushed to the customer or the customer pulled to the goods/services. For the hotel industry, marketing is mainly carried out as a strategy to convince customers to stay in a particular hotel. This is often achieved through approaches such as online marketing, which promote visibility. Compared to other companies in the same industry, it can be said that Hilton Worldwide has focused minimally on the use of internet-based marketing approaches and has instead relied heavily on its long-standing reputation as a reputable player in the hotel industry. Inclusion of other brands such as the curio shops and real estate has contributed to its growth in distinct sectors. The company's international goals, its mission, and vision have been the motivations behind the people-oriented marketing approach it engages in. It is, however, recommended that the company should lay down a stronger marketing strategy that will enable it to achieve its intended growth objectives. 

Rivalry Analysis

Hilton Worldwide is pursuing new markets in the Middle East, particularly in Dubai, where most of the other renowned hotel chains do not focus. At the same time, it has been growing significantly in Northern Africa, indicating that there is some potential in the underserved regions of the world. In as much as the company is coming up with new strategies to make an impact in such communities, there is growing concern about the potential rivalry from its core competitors. According to Porter, the rivalry is defined as the extent to which entrants into a given industry place constraints on the profitability of other players in the industry. In a highly competitive business environment where competitors strive to acquire the same market populations, the rivalry is described as high. For instance, the hotel industry context within which Hilton operates can be described as a rivalry intensive environment. An increase in one competitor's market shares could easily be seen as a decrease in another company's shares. Major growth in Northern Africa and the Middle East for Hilton would make the markets attractive for the other competitors, resulting in their competitive expansion and subsequently reduced profitability.

Financial Analysis

Over the past few years, there has been significant market growth for Hilton Worldwide. The Hilton stock chart for the past one year has been showing a steady increase in the value of the Hilton stocks, as shown in the chart below. In the last three months, there have been fluctuations in the value of stocks in the New York Stock Exchange, mostly attributable to fluctuations in the hotel industry and the flow of international tourists (Hilton, 2019). This is an indication of growing profitability and increasing competitiveness. Similarly, the total cash dividends paid by the company have also increased from 2016, indicating a higher return on investments for the investors. This can be attributed to the increasing growth of opportunities in the hotel industry, and the fact that the company has taken advantage of innovative approaches through creative branding and customer-centric pricing.

Hilton Stock Chart (Hilton, 2019b)

Section III: Executive Summary

A – Problem Identification: Hilton Worldwide has managed to build a strong hotel brand over the years, focusing on providing value to customers who desire luxury and exceptional service delivery. Furthermore, the company has grown through expansion into other sectors beyond the hotel industry. Nonetheless, there are new companies such as Hyatt hotels that are coming up and actively using the internet space for greater marketing reach. At a time when the internet has made the world a global village, and with the emergence of e-commerce technologies, Hilton Worldwide would be left behind if it continues to go slow on technology adoption. It is possible for a young company to outgrow companies that have stayed longer in the markets by reaching out to existing markets, and Hilton should consider this a threat to its longevity.

B – Alternatives for Problem Resolution: While arguing that smaller competitors may overtake Hilton could be far-fetched, it is clear that Hilton needs to engage in technology use actively. Technology can be used satisfactorily in sales and marketing as well as through e-commerce activities. Other companies in the hospitality industry are taking advantage of such technologies for customer resource management, organizational resource planning, and financial systems management, and the inclusion of e-commerce platforms on the company website could be a contribution to its potential for further growth. It will also be aligned with the company's intention for expansion, which considers new locations for new facilities. For instance, in areas such as Northern Africa and the Middle East, where infrastructures may be poor, the internet can contribute significantly to communication efficiency and effective service delivery.

C – Strategic Recommendations: Hilton Worldwide is commonly recognized as the Hilton Hotels brand. In this context, other activities that are part of the overall business strategy for Hilton often go unnoticed. The objective of the company should, therefore, be not only to increase its reach through the Hilton hotels brand but also to increase recognition of its other non-hospitality oriented brands. The best way to do this is to leverage the power of the internet through social media platforms. Information distribution to potential customers and stakeholders will help the company to further shape its capabilities in delivering value. Additionally, the company needs to create flexible strategic plans that accommodate diverse cultural backgrounds and protect environmental resources. Most of the other competitors use their environmental protection activities and corporate social responsibility as a marketing strategy, which Hilton focuses on its brands and its teams for marketing. With growing interests in environmental conservation, bringing to the fore the core company activities in this area can also contribute to its recognition as an environmentally conscious service provider.

References

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