FAIRLAWN, OH—An anniversary is a time of celebration, but the milestone can also elicit some reflection and even spark vision for the future.
This year, the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn has marked 50 years in business and its team touts the property as being the longest continuously owned and operated franchise property in the history of Hilton properties in the world — quite a feat.
“Hilton had just started to franchise in 1969, and my brother and I felt it was a strong brand with a good reputation,” said Rennick Andreoli, owner of Hilton Akron/Fairlawn and president of RDA Hotel Management Company, based here. “They were known at that time for catering to the corporate traveler, and with our location in the Rubber Capital of the World, and with Firestone, General Tire and Goodyear headquarters only a few miles away, it seemed like the perfect fit. So, we began putting a land deal together for a portion of the 14 acres the Hilton currently sits on in Fairlawn, OH. And, as you can see, the rest is history.”
The company’s core values have guided the business throughout the years: “Our mantra has always been continuous improvement all the time—in our facilities, in our staff, in the community, and in ourselves—and our attention to detail does not go unnoticed,” said Andreoli.
Over 50 years, Andreoli has developed his own recipe for success and the hotel’s longevity: develop great employees.
“We offer employees lots of opportunities for training and retraining, because if our employees take care of our customers with a smile, they will keep coming back (and, repeat business is extremely important to continued success),” he said. “Our employee-centric focus has resulted in long-term employees, with many reaching 25 years and the longest reaching 45 years. Plus, we have the lowest turnover rate of all Hiltons in the country.”
There’s an extensive training schedule in place for the staff, which he believes leads to a service standard that is “second to none, allowing for a superb guest experience.”
He added, “We have always known that location and the physical plant aren’t enough to sustain a business, and that it’s your impeccable service standard that truly sets you apart. No matter what business you are in, success comes down to not only the relationship with your customers, but also the relationship with your employees.”
The company’s focus on employee development has reaped rewards, including the hotel being recognized for its employee service with numerous exemplary service awards throughout the years.
“Small acts of kindness are a big thing for us—both inside and outside the hotel (in the community)—with philanthropy being a cornerstone of our efforts and a big part of our culture,” he said.
Staying relevant and working to make positive enhancements to the overall Hilton experience has also added to the company’s success.
“This is a highly competitive market, and you need to constantly evolve with customer expectations for beauty and aesthetics. And, at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn, that’s just what we do,” he said.
Having a variety of available services for guests is also very important. “Our facility includes the award-winning Beau’s Grille restaurant, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a fitness center, flexible meeting rooms, a 24-hour business center and complimentary high-speed FairlawnGig internet access,” he said.
Andreoli is most proud of weathering (and surviving) the franchise business for 50 years, and for being the first in the world to achieve 50 years as a Hilton franchise.
“This is a very tough business, but with the help of our loyal customers and long-term employees, we were able to achieve 50 years in the Akron/Fairlawn community—and that makes me extremely proud, humbled and grateful,” he said. “I have customers who continually walk in and say, ‘Thank you for giving our community such a nice hotel.’”
So, what does it mean to celebrate 50 years as Hilton marks 100 years in business? Andreoli explained it this way: “Conrad Hilton declared his vision, ‘to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality,’ at the 1954 American Hotel Association Convention in New York City, and I feel the Hilton brand remains synonymous with those ideals,” he said. “His vision continues to inspire not only Hilton and its team members around the world, but also the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn and our employees so many years later.”
In terms of the brand’s impact, Andreoli talked about the “Hilton Effect” and how it aligns with his business in terms of the hotel’s guests, team members and the larger community in which the property resides.
“They are the pillars we focus our efforts on all year long,” he said. “Over the years, the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn has remained diligent in providing the highest-level amenities, decor and atmosphere by making continuous reinvestments in our property. We’ve remained dedicated to treating every guest like family, and to supporting great community causes and benefits via philanthropic efforts. And, to celebrating the hard work, commitment and accomplishments of our loyal team, because without them, we wouldn’t be who (and where) we are today.”