Hilton CEO optimistic about hotel recovery

Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta.

The head of Hilton Hotels is optimistic about the future of hotels despite the coronavirus downturn, saying the accommodation sector is better placed to recover quickly when compared to airlines.

Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta said he feels “spectacularly good about the long-term for the industry”.

But he conceded a full recovery could take several years to return to demand seen in 2019, with an expected 90 per cent fall in revenue per available in April across its global portfolio of hotels.

During the first quarter, revenue per available room fell 23 per cent, while in March alone, this fell 57 per cent as the coronavirus spread across Europe and the US.

“Overall, we do not think our first-quarter results provide clear insight into the current environment,” Nassetta said.

With the coronavirus plateauing in many countries, Nassetta said reopening requests are coming in, with global occupancy levels rising from a low point of 13 per cent to 23 per cent.

“I think the airlines are way behind,” he said. “Those that are willing to travel are only willing to go so far from home.

“We will likely show, I think, recovery at a faster pace because we can accommodate types of demand that don’t require air travel.

“Ultimately, we need the airlines. We need people to get on planes to get to the nirvana which is back to more normal patterns of demand.”