More needs to be done to democratize hotel ownership, and Hilton's new program is a promising example.
Hilton said on Monday it had launched a program to match aspiring hotel owners with capital.
The program, called “Unlocking Doors,” intends to help small entrepreneurs overcome a major barrier to entering the hotel management or franchise business. Many local banks are reluctant to give first-time hotel operators loans — or at least loans on affordable terms.
To help overcome that obstacle, Hilton has teamed up with Bridge, a small business lending program run by the startup Foro. Bridge connects small- and medium-sized businesses with about 75 U.S. lenders for business loans, including names from Citigroup’s lender portfolio.
Hilton’s program will also offer educational workshops and networking events to help new and aspiring entrepreneurs become hoteliers.
The hotel giant’s move comes in the wake of other industry efforts. In 2022, Wyndham launched Bold [Black Owners and Lodging Developers], a program that mixes outreach and educational efforts with a team that aims to uncover financing opportunities and makes introductions to lenders.
Last year Choice Hotels began offering HERtels by Choice development seminars, connecting women hotel owners with industry veterans and Choice executives for mentorship.
“The hospitality industry is a powerful engine of opportunity for entrepreneurs who dream of owning and growing their own businesses, as well as creating jobs in their communities,” said Kevin Jacobs, Hilton’s chief financial officer and president of global development.
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Photo credit: The swimming pool at the Hilton Garden Inn Resort in Anaheim, California. Source: Hilton Garden Inn Resort in Anaheim.