Conrad Hilton was an American business mogul and hotelier more commonly known as the owner of the world famous ‘Hilton Hotels’ chain. The founder of Hilton Hotels survived the First World War and the Great Depression and became one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world.
Conrad Hilton was born on 25th December 1887 in San Antonio, New Mexico. He went to the Goss military school and the St. Michael’s College, he also attended the Mexico School of Mines. At 21 he started helping out in his father’s store while serving in the New Mexico State Legislature as a Republican representative. He acquired many entrepreneurial talents while working at his father’s store. After spending two years fighting the WWI in the U.S Army, Hilton returned with a dream to build a large business. To achieve this goal he moved to Texas to buy a bank but instead ended up buying his first hotel which was the Mobley Hotel in Cisco. The hotel picked up very quickly with the rooms being taken three times a day. It went so well that Hilton had to turn the hotel dining room to into surplus rooms to keep up with the increasing number of guests. Slowly he kept on adding more hotels to his list. The Great Depression brought with it some tough times for Hilton making him almost bankrupt but this did not set him back. He was able to build his hotel empire with each hotel having a unique style. Hilton expanded his hotels outside of Texas building them in California, Chicago and New York. He established the ‘Hilton Hotels Cooperation’ in 1946 and the ‘Hilton International Company’ in 1948.
Around 1949 Hilton began to expand the chains internationally and so the Hilton International Company became one of the biggest hotel businesses worldwide. The Hilton Hotels helped the American tourism and American corporations in their overseas businesses. It was the first international hotel chain that set such high standards for hotel accommodations. In total Hilton had 188 hotels in 38 cities of America alone. This included the Palmer House (Chicago), Mayflower Hotel (Washington DC), Waldorf-Astoria (New York) and Plaza Hotel (New York). Along with these there were 54 hotels outside America. Conrad Hilton passed the management of the Hilton Hotels to his son in 1960s and made him the president. He himself took the position of chairman of the board.
Conrad Hilton got married three times with the first two marriages ending in divorce. Hilton died at the age of 91 on 3rd January 1979 due to natural causes. His contributions to the hotel industry are irrefutable. Along with his hotel empire he also founded the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation which awards prizes to those institutes that help bring an end to world’s sufferings. It also takes initiatives for education, the homeless and blind. Hilton was awarded several honorary degrees from various universities such as DePaul University (1954), University of Detroit (1953), Adelphi College (1957), Barat College (1955), Sophia University in Tokyo (1963) and University of Albuquerque (1975).