Hilton’s industry firsts: Piña coladas and small metal medallions

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Hilton - Industry firsts

As Hilton celebrates its 100th year this month, we remember the brand’s most significant contributions to the hotel industry.

From the first loyalty system to the first airport hotel, Hilton has made an impact though the seemingly trivial things. These small but significant milestones were set in the brand’s 100-year history and changed the course of the hotel industry as we know today.

“Unshakable desire”

Mark Young, an archivist and historian at Conrad N. Hilton College at the University of Houston, commented: “Hilton has been able to transcend time and establish itself as an iconic hotel brand partly due to the many industry firsts and standards it has set over the past century. Today, you expect hotels to be air-conditioned, equipped with cable television, and offer points and perks based on guest loyalty – all of which can be predated back to Hilton and Conrad’s unshakable desire to improve the guest experience.”

Industry firsts:

  • Hilton has Hilton Honors now, but predating Hilton Honors was a small metal medallion that Hilton put out in the 1920s, an equivalent of an Honors program for their return guests who frequented Hilton Hotels.
  • Standardizing room service in hotels, growing the concept from its origins (the 1930s) in the Waldorf Astoria New York throughout the industry.
  • Hilton was the first hotel to install televisions in guest rooms (Roosevelt Hilton New York, 1947), this was the genesis to the Connected Room concept and Hilton’s extensive premium television offerings.
  • Now the national drink of Puerto Rico, bartenders at the iconic Hilton Caribe created The Piña Colada in 1954.
  • Hilton was also the first to create Airport Hotels (San Francisco Airport Hilton in 1959) and has continued to reinvent the concept 100 years later.

Alan Watts, president at APAC, Hilton, said: “We believe the world is a better place because Hilton was born into it one hundred years ago.”

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