This digital collection highlights annual reports from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, from three modern hospitality companies: Hilton Hotels, Sheraton Hotels, and the Hot Shoppes, later renamed Marriott Hotels. Through these digitized pages, one can learn about the dynamic history of these companies and their evolution into world-renowned leaders in hospitality.
The annual reports provide a wealth of information related to their operation and the transition from small hospitality companies to large international corporations. For example, Hilton’s acquisition in 1954 of the Statler Hotel chain forced it to deal with monopoly issues and tax regulations for several years. The reader can also learn about the varied ways hotel companies raised money to fund the expansion of their hotel chains. Both Hilton and Sheraton had aggressive growth programs, both domestically and internationally. The international expansions also show the important role American companies played in the era of the Cold War.
The technological revolution that the world experienced in the mid-twentieth century likewise is reflected in these annual reports. One unique issue that plagued the travel industry in this period were the costs of reservation centers and the long-distance telephone call, a problem that ceased to exist with the advent of digital communications. Other timely issues revealed in the annual reports include the commitment of millions of dollars to install air-conditioning systems in hotels and restaurants and the challenge of the “motor-lodge” to the traditional downtown hotel structure following the advent of interstate highways. The first Marriott, the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington Virginia, highlights the growing importance of automobile accessibility to the hotel business.
The annual reports also reflect the changing nature of American society in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Inside these reports are images revealing shifting consumer tastes and preferences in interior design and fashion. Advances in modes of transportation, from railroad, to propeller airplanes, to the advent of jet age are also shown, providing a unique glimpse into this dynamic period of American history.
The original materials are available in the Hospitality Industry Archives located in the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management.