EDITOR'S NOTE: This has been updated to include the name of the new leader of the Doubletree brand.
Yesterday’s meeting in Memphis for employees of the Hilton Operations Center yielded a much clearer picture of the hierarchy of the company. While media wasn’t present, one of my sources who was there told me that in general the mood was low key. The best bit of news from the meeting is that Jim Holthouser and Phil Cordell—guys who have more passion for their jobs than almost everyone else in the hotel industry—have earned promotions.
While I’m working on scoring interviews with Hilton’s corporate executives, here are some of the details revealed to the thousand or so employees who were at the meeting, which was held at the Mike Rose Theater on the University of Memphis campus:
- The new name of Hilton’s Memphis operations will be called Global Brands & Commercial Services and will be focused on brand management, customer marketing, technology services and commercial services. The first three are pretty self-explanatory. Commercial services will focus on revenue management and customer service.
- Hilton’s brands will be divided into two categories: Hilton, Doubletree and Embassy Suites will comprise the full-service division; Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites, Hampton and Home2 Suites will make up the focused-service division.
- While official press releases with all details will undoubtedly be delivered soon, several key appointments were made.
- Holthouser is the new leader of the full-service division. He will also retain his position as the head of Embassy Suites.
- Dave Horton will leave Doubletree to lead the Hilton brand. There’s no word yet on the new Doubletree leader.
- Cordell, who has built the Hampton brand into a juggernaut, will retain his role for that brand and be the leader of the focused-service group.
- More good news for franchisees is that Adrian Kurre will move to Memphis and retain his spot as the head of the Hilton Garden Inn brand. It had been rumored that Kurre wasn’t going to make the move.
- Bill Duncan, who just recently earned a promotion to lead the Homewood Suites and recently launched Home2Suites brand, continues in that role.
- Rob Palleschi is assuming the leadership role for Doubletree.
- There were two other notable personnel developments shared during the meeting:
- No replacement was named for Tim Harvey as chief information officer (Harvey is stepping down at the end of March); and
- Chris Silcock will lead the global revenue management department—arguably the most important role in the entire company.
- Unfortunately, there was bad news as well. An unknown number of people are out of jobs. It doesn’t sound like it’s a large number of people, but its tough to see people lose their jobs in any environment, let alone one that’s as turbulent as what we have going on now.
The next step for Hilton’s move to Fairfax, Virginia, from Beverly Hills, California, will involve how many people and who will be making the cross-country trek to the new headquarters. At this point, there’s no sign of when it will be known who makes the cut.