An Interview with Hilton Hotels' Jim Vonderheide

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Nov. 20, 2006 You Can Get to Know Your Guest: An Interview With Hilton Hotels ' Jim VonDerheide Bob Thompson Jim, I know you 've got quite an extensive background in what we now call customer relationship management. Could you tell us a little bit about that background and what it is you 're currently doing at Hilton? Jim VonDerheide My career pretty much started as a database marketer. I think as technology progressed over the years, database marketing sort of evolved into response marketing in the 800-number era and then into interactive marketing in the web-based era. I think as those channels start to integrate, we have a relationship that needs to span across the entire set of interactions we have with our customers. I 've kind…show more content…
We consider ourselves to be synonymous, worldwide, with hospitality, and we try to bring hospitality to light in every one of our brands. So that is making your journey more of a pleasant experience. Bob Thompson When you get down to a specific brand, if you 're talking about Hampton Inn, that 's more of a budget brand, if I remember right. Embassy Suites is the suites brand. So with each one of these, you would then try to bring out something that 's specific for the segment it 's going after. Jim VonDerheide That 's correct. The Embassy Suites has a full-service breakfast, a prepared-to-order breakfast. Hampton has an individual breakfast but not individually prepared. Bob Thompson But let me go back to my earlier question. What is it, specifically, that drives loyalty to that brand? What is it that you try to do or to manage to cause customers to really have this positive feeling about Hilton or about one of these brands? Jim VonDerheide I think it 's similar to most organizations. It 's fulfilling that customer promise. In our case, that is fulfilling the things that are what I would consider the cost of entry: a clean room, secure room, good bed, functional alarm clock, working shower, hot water, etc. So it 's the physical property that 's a requirement. I believe some of the things we 've added into that with our loyalty program, Hilton HHonors—some of the things we offer—are

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