Opportunities to Improve the Cross-Cultural and Cultural-Awareness SWOT

Excerpt from SWOT :

opportunities to improve the cross-cultural and cultural-awareness training at Hilton Hotels International, Inc. This study was important because Hilton Hotels compete in 78 countries across six continents and hosts guests from virtually every country in the world during a given year. In order to continue to its efforts that began in the late 1990s to rebuild its eroded brand, Hilton Hotels has sought to exceed customer expectations at every turn. To achieve this goal, the study examines how Hilton Hotels can identify existing resources and use them to their optimal effect in developing timely human resource responses to the need for cross-cultural and cultural-awareness training. To this end, Chapter One of the study introduces the company and the issues under consideration, followed by a SWOT analysis of Hilton Hotels in Chapter Two. An analysis of the world's most widely spoken languages and their impact on Hilton Hotels in Chapter Three is followed by an examination of international cross-cultural issues in Chapter Four. Finally, a discussion of the main themes that emerged from the research in Chapter Five is followed by a summary of the findings and important points in the study's concluding chapter.

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Introduction

Chapter Two: SWOT Analysis of Hilton Hotels

Chapter Three: Foreign Languages

Chapter Four: International Cross-Cultural Issues

Chapter Five:


Chapter Six: Conclusion

Communication Skills Used for Employees Training at Hilton Hotels

Chapter One: Introduction

The overarching purpose of this study is to identify opportunities to improve the cross-cultural and cultural-awareness training at Hilton Hotels International, Inc. In order to help achieve the company's stated goal to exceed guests' expectations in every way. This goal is in support of Hilton Hotel International's plans to grow its business through continued expansion into new international markets where it already dominates in many regions. Today, Hilton Hotels International, Inc. (hereinafter alternatively "Hilton" or "the company") is a Delaware corporation that competes in the global hospitality industry (Goodwin-Gill & Talmon, 1999). The company has more hotels around the world than any other competitor. According to Hilton's corporate Web site, "Today, Hilton welcomes guests in more countries than any other full-service hotel brand, with more than 540 hotels and resorts in 78 countries across six continents" (About Hilton, 2012). These numbers, though, do not reflect the total number of hotels in the Hilton brand hotel chains (see Table 1 below).

In order to achieve this level of success, the company has implemented performance management systems with proven track records as well as informed human resource management processes that follow best industry practices. For example, according to Duboff and Spaeth (2000), "Hilton Hotels came out of the terrible recession that rocked the hospitality industry in the 1990s to forge a new, aggressive growth strategy that more effectively leveraged the Hilton brand while at the same time reengineering business practices to regain a leadership position" (p. 81). Following the business maxim that in order to improve something, it must first be measured, the company used a proven method for this purpose as well. In this regard, Duboff and Spaeth add that, "To put the new corporate strategy into practice, Hilton aligned its processes, people, and technology using the balanced scorecard [approach]" (p. 81). Given the company's far-flung global business operations, the use of the balanced scorecard approach was highly congruent with the company's needs. According to Duboff and Spaeth, "[The balanced scorecard's] quantitative and nonquantitative measures give the company a snapshot of the critical factors that create value for all its constituencies -- customers, team members, owners/shareholders, strategic partners/vendors, and communities in which its properties are located" (p. 81).

In addition, the company has forged strategic partnerships and alliances within and without the travel and tourism industry and has taken advantage of innovative marketing opportunities offered by social media networks such as Facebook where it maintains a prominent presence. The company continues to expand its international offerings year by year and expects to add several new hotels every week for the next several years (About Hilton, 2012). In fact, all told, the company already has more than 636,931 rooms in 3,866 hotels around the world and one of every six hotel rooms currently under construction in Europe belongs to a Hilton branded hotel chain (Hilton Worldwide at a Glance, 2012).

Despite the ongoing expansions and world-class service and brand, Hilton remains challenged by a number of problems in recent years. In this regard, Duboff and Spaeth emphasize that, "A well-known brand name isn't enough. There has to be value behind the name, which is the problem that Hilton Hotels faced in the early 1990" (p. 125). In response to these problems, the company has launched a series of management reforms that are designed to improve customer service and elevate the Hilton brand to its once prominent position in the hospitality industry. For instance, according to Duboff and Spaeth (2000), during the late 1990s, "Hilton Hotels adopted an aggressive growth strategy, one designed to leverage the Hilton brand while reengineering business practices to gain a leadership position in the hospitality industry. The Hilton initiative was built on ensuring substance behind the brand perception" (p. 125). The reengineering process at Hilton involved a comprehensive evaluation of all of the company's hotels that was used to identify opportunities for improvement, including the need for improved customer service at many locations and branded alternatives (Duboff & Spaeth, 2000).

The company's current branded hotel chains consist of the following set forth in Table 1 below.

Table 1

Listing of Hilton Branded Hotels


Brief Description


Waldorf Astoria

The luxury brand offering a unique service experience and the world's landmark hotels.


A world of style, service, and connection for today's sophisticated traveler.

Full Service

Hilton Hotels and Resorts

The company's flagship brand, with more than 540 hotels and resorts in more than 78 countries across six continents.


Offering genuine comfort to business and leisure travelers in over 250 locations.

Embassy Suites

A superior all-suite lodging value for both business and pleasure.

Focused Service

Hilton Garden Inn

Upscale, affordable hotels engineered for value and comfort.


Moderately-priced hotels delivering consistent quality, value, and service.

Homewood Suites

Casual, affordable all-suite properties that help guests feel at home.


The company's new, stylish all-suite brand of extended-stay hotels.

Source: Adapted from Hilton Brands, 2012

The company has also launched an ambitious expansion program to add to its existing facilities throughout the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia where it maintains some of its most luxurious accommodations (Keating, 2006) as well as throughout major markets in Asia and Africa (Hilton Worldwide at a Glance, 2012). In sum, the company operates thousands of hotels on six different continents, an issue that requires an analysis of its operating environment to better understand its customer service needs, and these issues are discussed further in Chapter Two below.

Chapter Two: SWOT Analysis of Hilton Hotels

Background and Overview

According to Cravens (2000), the main purpose of a SWOT analysis is to identify key issues that can provide business managers and investors with an informed view of the enterprise. In general, the SWOT analysis attempts to identify the respective strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that are related to the enterprise's operating environment while strengths are the positive aspects that are internal to the enterprise. By contrast, Cravens (2000) notes that weaknesses are those negative aspects that are internal to the enterprise, opportunities are positive aspects that are external to the enterprise and threats are regarded as being negative aspects that are external to the enterprise.

Application of SWOT Theory to Hilton Hotels International, Inc.

An application of the SWOT components to Hilton's current situation is provided in Table 2 below.

Table 2

SWOT Analysis of Hilton Hotels

SWOT Category



1. The company has recognized the constraints to the provision of consistent, world-class customer service in recent years and has taken aggressive steps to address these issues (Duboth & Spaeth, 2000).

2. The company has leveraged its several global brands in innovative ways to capture new market share in the mid-range and near-budget-hotel markets as well as expanding its offerings in the luxury sector (Thompson, 2001).

3. The company has a sophisticated supply chain network and the IT infrastructure that is needed to support it (Duboth & Spaeth, 2000).

4. The company has a dedicated and experienced executive leadership team that supports change where it is needed.

5. The company possesses an enormous talent pool of language speakers from all over the world that could be used to develop in-house language training resources as well as empirical observations concerning salient cross-cultural issues.

6. Finally, the company has a well-matured balanced scorecard performance management system in place that can help identify opportunities for improvement.


1. Despite ongoing efforts to provide relevant cross-cultural awareness training, there remains a need for more effective methods to ensure optimal use of scarce HR training resources.

2. There are some rigid hierarchical levels and a well-entrenched middle-management bureaucracy that tend to impede company-wide cultural-awareness…

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