In addition to the development of six prototype rooms in the College's South Wing that will be used to test hotel room designs, the project also includes a multi-year pro bono consulting and services agreement with an affiliate of Hilton Hotels under which the University will be provided assistance in managing the hotel. The project, which will significantly upgrade the property, will not only create a new showcase for Hilton Hotels, but with its location at the campus' main entrance, the hotel will become a jewel in the University of Houston's 20-year master plan.
Sparked by a $6.5 million gift from the Conrad N. Hilton Fund-an affiliate of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation-$2.9 million from the University and $2.6 million from hotel capital reserves, the renovated facility will provide students with the experience of operating a state-of-the-art hotel and conference facility. Through this consulting relationship, students will have access to the latest technology and operating concepts. This consulting agreement also ensures that the management of the hotel is consistent with what students are learning in the classroom and that the hotel services delivered will meet the expectations of guests. Also, cash flow is expected to increase exponentially, allowing for continuous improvements.
"Since Conrad Hilton wrote the College's $1.5 million founding check in 1969, his Foundation and the affiliated Fund have contributed over $60 million," says John Bowen, dean of the Conrad N. Hilton College. "This unwavering support has allowed us to reach the level of international preeminence we enjoy today. The Hilton Fund's latest gift is yet another act of generosity that will allow us to take the Hilton College to the next level, and we are grateful."
The new Hilton Hotels consulting agreement was effective June 1. Renovation is slated to begin in late fall with completion targeted for December 2009.
"We are delighted about our expanded relationship with the College that proudly bears our company founder's name," says Timothy Benolken, senior vice president of Central U.S., Mexico and South America for Hilton Hotels Corporation. "This relationship will afford hospitality students an enhanced experiential learning environment designed to better prepare graduates to succeed in our fast paced and dynamic industry."
According to Bowen, leaders from all disciplines in the hospitality industry agree that first-hand leadership experience is the most important area of improvement on which all management schools should focus. To that end, a new Student Leadership Program will allow students to work directly with the University Hilton's general manager in student management positions on a number of hotel operational projects, including receiving hands-on experience in the multi-dimensional aspects of an actual hotel remodeling project.
Local Hilton-managed hotels will serve as the College's "mentor hotels." These relationships will give students in the Student Leadership Program access to the management tools used in first-class hotels as they learn practical skills like revenue management techniques, application of best practices in marketing and sales, and operations management.
For students at the Hilton College and across the University of Houston campus, these changes will yield an array of exciting experiential learning and research opportunities-most notably with the installation of the prototype rooms. Testing new room concepts will foster a synergy between the College and the University of Houston's Architecture, Engineering, Business, Technology and Social Sciences programs, as each discipline offers a specialized perspective to evaluate room design. These rooms will also strengthen the College's relationships with suppliers to the industry, as well as bring hotel developers to campus to evaluate these rooms of the future.
"Working with students from the Hilton College and the University to help test and analyze new products is an effective way to reinvent and improve upon the standards used by industry," adds Andy Slater, area vice president of South Central U.S./Mexico for Hilton Hotels Corporation.
This eagerly awaited renovation will create a first-rate conference center that will serve both the University and the Houston area community, making the property consistent with the image of a tier one research university.
"When the renovation is complete and the Student Leadership Program is implemented, our facilities and programs will be like no other," attests Bowen. "Without a doubt, the stature of the Hilton College will be significantly elevated within academic circles and throughout the hospitality industry. This upgrade will result in better-trained graduates for all sectors of the hospitality business and keep with Conrad N. Hilton's wish to create American hotel managers and top executives who can compete globally."
About the Conrad N. Hilton College
The Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, which offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in hotel and restaurant management and hospitality management, is one of the top-ranked hospitality programs in the world. Currently, students from 27 countries study here. For more information on the Conrad N. Hilton College visit www.hrm.uh.edu.
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.
About Hilton Hotels Corporation
Hilton Hotels Corporation is the leading global hospitality company, with more than 3,000 hotels and 500,000 rooms in 74 countries, with more than 135,000 team members worldwide. The company owns, manages or franchises some of the best known and highly regarded hotel brands including Hilton®, Conrad® Hotels & Resorts, Doubletree®, Embassy Suites Hotels®, Hampton Inn®, Hampton Inn & Suites®, Hilton Garden Inn®, Hilton Grand VacationsTM, Homewood Suites by Hilton® and The Waldorf-Astoria CollectionTM.
Hilton Hotels Corporation is an Official Sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Team, which will extend through the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, the 2010/2012 U.S. Paralympic Team and the 2011 U.S. Pan American Team.
The Hilton Family of Hotels adheres to founder Conrad Hilton's philosophy that, "It has been, and continues to be, our responsibility to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality." The company put a name to its unique brand of service that has made it the best known and most highly regarded hotel company: be hospitable®. The philosophy is shared by all brands in the Hilton Family of Hotels, and is the inspiration for its overarching message of kindness and generosity. For more information about the company, please visit www.hiltonfamily.com.