Editorial Board   

Mr. Holthouser

Jim Holthouser

Senior Vice President Brand Management, Embassy Suites Hotels

As the global head of brand management for Embassy Suites Hotels, Jim Holthouser leads marketing, sales, revenue management, research and development and franchise owner relations efforts for the $1.8B annual revenues brand. He was named to the position in February 2006. Mr. Holthouser also serves as global head of full service brands (Hilton, Doubletree and Embassy Suites) for Hilton Worldwide, an additional responsibility he picked up in March 2009, following the restructuring of the company and its relocation to new corporate headquarters in the DC metro area. With 20 years of experience in the lodging, restaurant and gaming industries, Mr. Holthouser has held a series of senior management positions within Hilton Worldwide. His career with the company began in 1979 as the director of market research for Promus, where he created a number of cutting-edge industry and consumer measurement systems for both domestic and international marketing. Over the years, Mr. Holthouser has assumed increasingly important roles in the branding, franchising and marketing arenas. Before his assignment at Embassy Suites, Mr. Holthouser served as senior vice president, brand management, for Homewood Suites by Hilton. While at the helm of the Homewood Suites brand, Mr. Holthouser launched an aggressive development program to increase overall distribution. This program grew the extended stay brand from 80 hotels to 170 hotels, with another 110 in the development pipeline. Today, the Homewood Suites brand numbers some 400+ hotels open and in the pipeline. Under Mr. Holthouser's leadership, the Homewood Suites brand also became the first extended stay hotel chain to offer its guests complimentary, high-speed Internet access. Under Mr. Holthouser's leadership over the last three and a half years, the Embassy Suites brand has won numerous awards for product and service quality. His primary focus is to grow the brand aggressively, with the goal of having 400 hotels open or in the pipeline within the next five years. Currently the brand has 207 hotels open with almost 50 in the development pipeline. To support this goal, Mr. Holthouser oversaw the development of a new, more cost efficient prototype and introduced a one-room suite product into the brand's program. As Global Head of Full Service Brands for Hilton Worldwide, Mr. Holthouser also works closely with the Hilton Hotels and Doubletree brands to make sure the full service portfolio is strategically and tactically coordinated. Mr. Holthouser received his MA in economics / political science from the University of Louisville and his international MBA from the American Graduate School of International Management. He is fluent in German and has a strong working knowledge of French.

Mr. Holthouser can be contacted at 703-883-1000 or jim.holthouser@hilton.com

Coming up in April 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.