100 years of Hilton Hospitality


As Hilton heads toward a milestone 100th anniversary on 31st May 2019, we examine the company founded by Conrad Hilton, a dreamer who aspired to create much more than just a comfortable place to sleep.


Over the last century, Hilton has grown from a single hotel in Cisco, Texas, to nearly 5,500 hotels and 17 brands in 106 countries and territories with nearly 900,000 rooms, and it continues to grow rapidly. Hilton’s hotels have hosted more than 3 billion guests since 1919 and enlisted nearly 10 million Team Members in the company’s mission to fill the Earth with the light and warmth of hospitality. 


  • The Hilton Effect on Guests – Hilton has influenced guests by easing travel and broadening perspectives – changing travel as we know it through a century of firsts, from air conditioning to a mobile-centric hotel room; creating the modern business travel industry; and innovating the guest experience, from the first concierge service for female travelers more than 50 years ago, to unexpected moments at the breakfast bar.
  • The Hilton Effect on Team Members – Hilton has impacted employees by fostering a powerful entrepreneurial spirit and wide-ranging career opportunities – creating a culture where it’s possible for restaurant servers to become C-suite execs and for innovations to be driven from every corner of the company.
  • The Hilton Effect on Communities and Economies – Hilton has become woven into the history, economies and infrastructure of communities all over the world, becoming indispensable focal points in the process – building roads out of nothing to develop remote areas of Nigeria, transforming the London skyline, revitalizing deserted docks in Buenos Aires and helping Sri Lanka survive and thrive during a civil war.


“I think the world is a better place because Hilton was born into it one hundred years ago,” said Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton. “And if we continue to do our job, the world will be a better place because Hilton is in it for the next one hundred years.”


The Hilton Effect on Guests


Conrad Hilton was a visionary who had his first experience in hospitality hosting weary travellers on the road for work at his family’s boarding house and later at his first hotels. 


Since then, the company Hilton built has had an unmatched impact on modern travel. Hilton was the first hotel company to cater extensively to business travellers so they can focus their time and energy on the all-important meeting or negotiation, rather than the challenges of navigating an unfamiliar place. And throughout its history, Hilton has introduced numerous innovations offering comfort and convenience to all guests. Those industry firsts include air-conditioned hotel lobbies, and cold running water and televisions in guest rooms – not to mention food and beverage items like the piña colada and brownie. 


The Hilton Effect on Team Members


Hilton has impacted millions of employees – which are referred to as Team Members at the company – by fostering the powerful entrepreneurial spirit and autonomy that Conrad Hilton established. That legacy continues to create grassroots innovation across all levels and departments, offering extensive career opportunities:


The Hilton Effect on Communities and Economies


Hilton has been the first to enter numerous emerging markets around the globe, has often remained during difficult times, and has led the charge on revitalizing areas that lost hope. By serving this important role, Hilton has become woven into the history, economies, and infrastructure of communities all over the world: 


 “Conrad Hilton’s vision was simple – to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality – but he couldn’t have predicted how committing to his dream would take on different meanings throughout the world over the 100 years,” said Nassetta. “With our 100th milestone around the corner, we are welcoming more guests, employing more people and opening more hotels than ever before – and our impact will continue to shape the globe for the next century and beyond, affecting future generations of travellers.”


Hilton inspires its guests to explore, dream, reunite with loved ones, take action, and do things they never thought they would do.


The Hilton Effect is now


In a time that seems characterised by so much anxiety and discord, the unifying power of travel has never been needed more than it is today. That’s the trick of travel: It expands our view of the world while at the same time drawing us closer to diverse peoples around the globe.  


We are in a Golden Age of travel. Emerging middle classes in places like India and China are fuelling a global thirst for exploration and adventure, opening up more and more destinations to new cultures and ideas. In 2017, there were 4 billion air travellers. In just 20 years, that number will double.


Hilton are paving the way in new travel destinations, opening hundreds of hotels across nearly 50 countries and territories in the anniversary year alone. As we hit the century mark, Hilton has never been more dynamic.


Hilton Firsts

  • Hotel with cold running water
  • First hotel company to introduce 5 star rating system
  • Waldorf Astoria New York is the first hotel to introduce room service
  • Introduced the world to Eggs Benedict
  • Waldorf Astoria bartenders created the Martini
  • First hotel company on the stock exchange
  • First hotelier to install televisions into all guest rooms
  • Popularising Red Velvet Cake and the Brownie
  • Waldorf Astoria chef created Thousand Island Dressing
  • Bar tenders at the Caribe in San Juan invented the Pina Colada
  • First to introduce air conditioning in public rooms
  • First hotel to introduce direct dial telephones from guest rooms
  • First mobile phone call made in front of NY Hilton Midtown
  • First to globalise the mini bar
  • First hotel company on the internet
  • First hotel company to use smart phones as room key
  • First underwater villa at Conrad Maldives

To ensure we give you the best experience on our website we use Cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. However, if you continue without changing your settings we will presume you are happy to receive all cookies on the Sussex Chamber of Commerce website.