Stephen Bollenbach, CEO of Hilton Hotels

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, May 27, 2002, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

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BRENDA BUTTNER, GUEST HOST: So you thought, post-September 11, hotels were hurting so much they were practically giving rooms away? They were, but not anymore. Hotels are filling up and rates are picking up, which has this fellow looking up.

With us now from Los Angeles, Stephen Bollenbach. He is the CEO of Hilton Hotels. Sir, thanks so much for joining us.


BUTTNER: Well, the threat of terror is very much on the minds of Americans as they travel this weekend and over the summer. How is business?

BOLLENBACH: Well, business is good. Business will be about the same as it was this time last year.

BUTTNER: Really?

BOLLENBACH: And so that means as a country, we came through an unbelievable shock and we can continue to live our lives the way we always have.

BUTTNER: And does that mean time to raise rates? Are you raising rates?

BOLLENBACH: Well, what you do is you raise rates by changing the mix in the hotels. And rates are still reasonable, and I think they will stay that way until we get the stronger business traveler back. But the hotels are full. You know, there in New York, at the Waldorf, we're running over 90-percent occupancy right now.

BUTTNER: So, can I expect to pay more in a month than I'm paying right now?

BOLLENBACH: Yes. I think as we go through the year, we are going to continue to see a strengthening in the economy. There is not much in the way of new supply of hotels. So, throughout the year, you are going to see prices rise. The hotels are filled now, and so the next thing that happens is prices rise.

BUTTNER: You know, the airlines got bailed out, and you were one of the few in the industry who said that your industry did not need that.

BOLLENBACH: Well, we didn't. And it is obvious the hotel companies are doing just fine. There was never any risk that the hotel companies were going to go out of business. There was for the airlines. So it was just a different situation for the airlines.

BUTTNER: And is that doing fine is a bit of an understatement when you take a look at your stock. It's up some 40 percent, I think, year-to-date. Quite a rise there.

BOLLENBACH: Yes. Yes. And it is because there is a shortage of hotels, and the economy is improving. And so, the hotel business does very well in those kinds of situations.

BUTTNER: Now, one thing that you are saying that is a little bit different post-September 11 is that time-share sales are up. People really want to spend time with their families on vacation.

BOLLENBACH: Yes, and we found that even immediately after September 11, our time-share sales business was still very strong. You know, it is an industry that's gotten wide acceptance now. And the products that we deliver are absolutely fantastic. So when you visit one, you can see why they are bought.

BUTTNER: Now, Starwood Hotels raised room rates five percent across the board. What kind of increase are we talking here from you?

BOLLENBACH: Well, you know, we just don't raise it in that manner. We really set prices at the local level, so it really depends on where you are. You are going to see prices rise in New York because New York is strong and vibrant. Things are going to stay soft for a while in San Francisco because of the lack of the telecom business that used to come into San Francisco has kept things soft there. So, it changes from place to place in the country.

BUTTNER: All right. The CEO of Hilton Hotels, Stephen Bollenbach. Thanks so much for joining us, sir.


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