This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.  Find out more here  Close
A positive look at Hilton’s changes at the top
December 21 2012

Jim Holthouser and Jeff Diskin, two long-time Hilton employees, got promotions that landed them on the company’s executive committee. Filling the void created as Paul Brown decides to find other challenges.

Believe it or not, there actually are some positive vibes coming out the Washington, D.C., area these days.

Brushing aside the political clowns that populate the nation’s capital and shamefully claim to have the public’s best interest at heart, one has to look no further than Hilton Worldwide’s HQ in McLean, Virginia, to see the right approach to success and longevity.

Last month, Paul Brown, one of the company’s key executives behind President and CEO Chris Nassetta, quietly stepped aside. Nassetta named long-time Hilton employees and all-around good guys Jim Holthouser and Jeff Diskin to fill Brown’s role.

Jim Holthouser

Holthouser, who previously served as the global head of full-service brands, has stepped into a broader leadership role and now oversees brand organization across the enterprise as executive VP of global brands. The man who established the footprint of Embassy Suites (one of my personal favorites in the hotel industry) now oversees all nine of Hilton’s brands. 

Diskin, formerly senior VP of global customer marketing, is now executive VP, commercial services—which includes customer marketing, Hilton HHonors loyalty program, e-commerce, online services and revenue management.

The promotions couldn’t have happened to nicer guys. During interviews with them over the years, I found both to be personable, engaging professionals who were passionate about their jobs, their company and the industry overall. Nassetta definitely hit home runs by making these guys part of his executive committee. Both executives report directly to Nassetta.
“We are very fortunate to have deep bench strength in our organization, and we are thrilled to expand the responsibilities of two of our most respected executives to oversee our brands and commercial services,” Nassetta said in a statement to “Jim and Jeff are demonstrated leaders over many years who have unmatched knowledge and understanding of how to create maximum value for our guests and owners. Hilton Worldwide is the fastest growing major hospitality company, and with this rapid expansion, it’s essential that our executive committee continues to be the very best in the industry.”

Jeff Diskin

In my book, these promotions bring closure to the company’s move from Beverly Hills to Virginia three years ago. Among employees’ chief worries at the time was the long-term treatment of long-time employees. While the company certainly lost some quality employees as a result of the move, the promotions of Holthouser and Diskin hammer home Hilton’s commitment to its people.

Brown’s future
Brown, who joined Hilton from Expedia in December 2008, isn’t going anywhere just yet. As of 1 November, he has served as special advisor to the CEO and will continue do so over the next couple of quarters. What he does beyond that remains to be seen. Nassetta has to be bummed that Brown will move on eventually because the guy oozes productivity. His knowledge and versatility make him a valuable asset.

“The core of Paul's career has been serving as a catalyst for change—specifically, establishing organizations and core business processes which lead to sustained performance improvement,” Nassetta said. “Now that we are at the end of our organizational and business process reconstruction, Paul has made the decision to seek the next challenge as a way to leverage his core leadership and entrepreneurial skills. I want to thank Paul for the significant accomplishments he has led over the four years we have worked together, and we will miss his thought leadership going forward.”
Brown joined Hilton about a year after it was acquired and taken private by Blackstone Group. The company’s growth has been exponential since he came on board. Jonathan Gray, Blackstone’s top real estate exec, said in a company video that Hilton has grown more than 30% during the past 5 years.

Brown and his team accomplished a number of major things in the 4 years he has been at Hilton, including:

  • redesigning and relaunching the HHonors program;
  • aggressively expanding regional revenue management centers;
  • implementing an automated revenue management system;
  • retooling Hilton’s global websites and rolling out a global field force to manage local e-commerce activities for all properties globally;
  • launching Home2 Suites hotels and the eforea spa brand;
  • refreshing, repositioning and accelerating the global growth of the DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Waldorf Astoria brands;
  • launching LightStay, a proprietary “sustainability” system developed by Hilton that monitors and manages water, energy and property waste globally; and
  • integrating social media/mobile device channels into guest services and implementing social media monitoring and support processes worldwide.

I can’t blame the readers that think this is a love-fest for Hilton. Like most journalists, I can usually find something wrong with any given situation. But it’s nice to write a feel-good story, especially during the holiday season. Hilton’s growth will continue in 2013 and beyond. With the biggest questions being if it will add any brands to its family and if 2013 will be the year Blackstone divests Hilton from its portfolio, there are things to watch for during the next 12 months.

With the stability demonstrated by these moves at the top of the chain, it’s going to be much easier for Hilton to be where it wants to be.

William Sowles
6/4/2013 8:42:00 PM
Lateloy, I've noticed that Hilton Garden Inns are spouting like weeds...and they are very nice for a stay.
Login or enter a name   Post Your Comment  Check to follow this thread via email alerts (must be logged in)
(4000 characters max)

Comments that include blatant advertisements or links to products or company websites will be removed to avoid instances of spam. Also, comments that include profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, solicitations or advertising, or other similarly inappropriate or offensive comments or material will be removed from the site. You are fully responsible for the content you post. The opinions expressed in comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Please report any violations to our editorial staff.

Industry CEOs’ opinions on Marriott/Starwood
Sharing economy might be in Choice’s future
Industry outlook: A crash or soft landing?
Modular construction and hotel design
Spanish chains ramp up global expansion
Top CEOs: Both good, bad signs for hotels
Extended Stay America's Lopez, Part I
Extended Stay America's Lopez, Part II
ALIS 2016: LIIC members share opinions
Consultants share trends, advice for 2016
HSMAI Digital Marketing roundtable
ESA’s Lopez talks expansion, change
STR: US results for week ending 6 February
Financial experts analyze hotel consolidation
A roundup of US hires, promotions
STR: Airbnb’s impact on Manhattan compression
Brand X factors to watch for
Contact Us
Hotel News Now
18500 Lake Rd.
Suite 310
Rocky River, Ohio 44116
Copyright © 2004 - 2016 Hotel News Now, a division of STR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.   Privacy