Long-term projections augur well for hotel chain
IN AN ERA of footloose labour and rapid economic changes, four decades in the same industry with the same company sounds unthinkable. But for Jean-Paul Herzog – president for the Middle East and Africa at hotel group Hilton Worldwide – this demonstrates his love and passion for the hospitality industry and desire to leave a lasting legacy.
A Swiss national born in Bern and raised in Basel, Herzog discovered very early in life that fusing his love for travelling and working with people would make a good career and sought to make that happen. But little did the young Herzog know when he joined the Hilton Hotel in Zurich in June 1970 the move would mark the beginning of his international career with the group, spanning three continents and various locations.
In his current position based in Dubai, Herzog is responsible for 44 hotels in the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Africa and the Indian Ocean.
Finweek caught up with the Hilton “grand-patriarch” at the group’s Sandton hotel on his recent trip to South Africa. The occasion was a sober reminder that the global travel industry was extremely hard hit by the credit crisis and recession, with a sharp drop in tourist arrivals (including business travellers) worldwide, resulting in a huge negative impact on both occupancies and hotel revenues in many countries.
But Herzog’s experience clearly counts for something. He’s projecting ahead, with a growth strategy that involves 21 hotels in the pipeline for the Middle East and Africa region. Out of those, five will be built in Africa, with Hilton Windhoek set to open in the fourth quarter of this year.
Why the optimism? Ever the diplomat, Herzog draws on a consumer trend that augurs well for his