Hilton adds resort amenities to business hotels after months of Leisure-Led-Travel

Travel trends during the hotel industry’s ongoing recovery from the coronavirus pandemic have Hilton leaders rethinking their entire portfolio with an eye toward leisure travelers.

Hilton spent the last decade largely focused on business-oriented hotels in its development pipeline. From city center hotels to Hampton Inns near a highway, the business traveler was top of mind when pursuing new properties.

But general hotel industry sentiment on the pandemic recovery path is less centered around corporate travel: First come the leisure travelers, then the independent business travelers, and finally convention and events.

The leisure traveler block is now driving Hilton to change the layout at some of its existing hotels, especially after a company survey released Monday showed overwhelming demand for leisure travel in the U.S.

“It reinforced that the leisure part of our business is really, really going to recover, even in a world where the business environment is still uncertain,” said Danny Hughes, president of the Americas at Hilton. “What it has done now is accelerate the need for us to find more and more leisure destinations.”

Hilton altered its view of what constitutes a resort destination in light of the pandemic putting a travel priority on any outdoor setting, not just a beach or a ski resort. The company is even retrofitting hotels aimed at single business travelers by adding connecting rooms to accommodate more families and expanding food and beverage outlets to handle more people rather than business travelers quickly passing through.

Hilton even tweaked brand standards to adjust to new expectations in travelers. The company relaxed standards earlier in the year to give hotel owners a temporary financial reprieve from costly renovations at a time when cash was sparse and occupancy rates were at record lows.

But while Hilton may allow owners to put off items like bathroom renovations to a guest room, areas it won’t budge on are things like air handling units for improved circulation and HEPA filters, a type air filtration system used heavily by the airlines to remove airborne particles.