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More Than Meeting Expectations

David Marr, Hilton’s SVP and global head of full service brands, shares the new Signia brand’s designs on the way meetings get done 

BT: How was the Signia Hilton brand born?

MARR: Meeting professionals are no longer satisfied with standard, one-size-fits-all options and are looking for venues that inspire collaboration and innovative thinking. At the same time, we recognized an opportunity with sophisticated business travelers looking for an elevated hotel experience. Our analysis revealed an opportunity in the higher-end market for a meetings and events-focused brand.

That’s why we developed Signia Hilton, which will offer both meeting professionals and sophisticated travelers an inspired, premier hotel option located in top urban and resort destinations. We spent countless hours with industry experts – meeting professionals and Hilton owners and developers – to understand what’s needed to solve for critical gaps in the growing meetings and events industry.

BT: What sets Signia Hilton apart from regular Hilton facilities for meetings, conferences and events?

MARR: Signia Hilton will offer everything that’s necessary to host great events, including high-tech capabilities, inspiring design, world-class food and beverage and premium amenities. We’ve optimized every aspect of Signia Hilton to ensure that guests have world-class experiences.

While many properties within the current Hilton portfolio offer some or most of these elements, the Signia Hilton brand standards require all – and when threaded together, these elements will create unmatched, world-class experiences for our guests and meeting professional partners.

BT: Where will the properties be concentrated?

MARR:  Signia Hilton will be a global brand with a carefully curated portfolio of hotels in the top urban and resort locales. The brand currently has deals in several leading convention and meetings hubs, including Atlanta, Orlando and Indianapolis.

BT: Are there to be any purpose-built new Signia Hilton properties or will existing properties get the tag “Signia Hilton” and retain their name?

MARR: Signia Hilton will primarily be comprised of new build hotels. On occasion, the brand may consider select conversions. We expect the first Signia Hilton to open in 2020. Beyond our first three developments, it is too soon to make a prediction of how many properties will be in the pipeline in five years. We do expect to have Signia Hilton deals in several other leading convention hubs globally.

BT: What will the brand offer business travelers?

MARR: Every element of Signia Hilton has been optimized to ensure business and leisure travelers have elevated experiences during their entire stay. A few examples of how this will come to life include grand entrances, large lobby spaces which will double as social destinations, guest rooms with innovative technology and premium design which echoes the respective destination, destination bars, wellness experiences like infinity pools and state-of-the-art fitness and spas, and finally flexible meeting spaces that feature smart design and the newest technologies.

BT: Will designers be part of creating a look and feel that’s specifically geared to meetings?

Marr: Yes. We’ve worked with meeting professionals to build the brand and to ensure that it provides world-class meetings and events. As part of that, we will collaborate closely with our development and design partners to ensure that the design of each Signia Hilton is optimized for meetings and events.

BT: Do properties with spas or resorts automatically get sifted out of the Signia Hilton mix because of meeting planners’ corporate aversion to these? Is experiential travel or bleisure part of the brand strategy?

MARR: There is certainly a market for incentive and meeting professionals who are seeking premium resort offerings. Signia Hilton will also provide new options for sophisticated bleisure travelers looking for elevated hotel experiences in exciting resort destinations, in addition to urban locations.