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 February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.