02 22 2014 42

Training in 1956 - Hilton

A short synopsis of Hilton's training programs in 1956 and Confessions of a London Hilton Trainee (1963)


Hilton's hotel training (1956)

A unique program to train people from all over the world in its techniques of hotel management has been developed by Hilton Hotels International in order to obtain additional experienced personnel for its hotels outside the US. Men and women from many countries are being trained to fill staff positions at three Hilton hotels in operation abroad as well as the six now under construction. The training program gives selected individuals specialized training in specific phases of hotel operations, provides them with experience in actual work situations, familiarizes them with the techniques behind the management of Hilton hotels and prepares them for key staff assignments in Hilton hotel abroad. Candidates for this special program are selected from Hilton hotels in the US who are recommended by their managers, nationals of the countries where Hilton Hotels International operates or has projects developing, graduates of accredited schools of hotel administration and applicants from other hotels, both within the United States and abroad. Nationals of other countries do not need hotel experience. They may qualify if they have good educational background and have a good knowledge of the English language. A fluent knowledge of at least one foreign language is necessary.

Training programs for trainees consist of either training for a specific department head level position or a general all-around program. The length of training depends on the nature of the position and the background and experience of the person to fill each position. Normally, the training program extends from 3 months to 2 years. Training for top level positions covers all departments of the hotel and extends from 6 months to 1 year. On-the-job training provides for learning through the actual performance of duties. If the background of the trainee, nature of the job, and length of specific assignment permit, the trainee is allowed to hold an actual position to afford him an opportunity to prove the extent of his capabilities.

The trainees are assigned to Hilton hotels either within the US or abroad which best afford them the type of training they require. In order to introduce the trainee to various phases of Hilton hotel operation, to instil team spirit and stress interrelation of departments, group meetings and organised lectures are held periodically. Trainees submit to management periodic written reports describing in full the nature of the work they have covered. In turn, the training supervisors periodically submit to Hilton Hotel International detailed rating forms, giving their evaluation of the trainee on such factors as quality of work, job knowledge, initiative, attitude etc...

Foreign trainees are brought into the US through the Hilton Hotels Corporation exchange visitors permit. They are provided room and meals, plus laundry and other discounts allowed hotel employees. Foreign trainees who are brought to the US for a specific hotel project are provided transportation expenses and incidental maintenance expenses by the owners of the hotel. Trainees selected from the hotels in the US are given a living allowance, plus meals while on duty and the usual discounts given to the hotel staff. Upon completion of their training program, trainees are given assignment in Hilton Hotels International hotels abroad where they are able to gain additional experience and advancement in this rapidly expanding hotel organization.

Hilton Hotels International now operates the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico; the Castellana Hilton in Madrid, Spain; and the Istanbul Hilton in Istanbul, Turkey. Hotels under construction are the Queen Elizabeth, a CNR hotel in Montreal, Canada; the Continental Hilton in Mexico City; the Acapulco Hilton in Acapulco, Mexico; the Havana Hilton in Havana, Cuba; the Nile Hilton in Cairo, Egypt and the Berlin Hilton in West Berlin, Germany. Under contract are hotels in Rome, Bangkok and Tokyo.

Published in 1956

Confessions of a London Hilton Trainee in 1963

It was with trepidation that I descended the stairs at the London Hilton employees’ entrance in Stanhope Row, just before 6am one morning, in early 1963.
 Just 17, I was embarking on a career in the hotel industry as a Hilton management trainee, after completing a hotel management course at (what is now) Middlesex University.
I spent three very intensive years at the hotel, on a brilliant training regime which involved spending between a week or three months in every single department of this magnificent new hotel, usually at the very bottom of the pecking order.
 I spent extra time in the beleaguered central ‘room service’ (with all its inherent problems) as well as in every one of the many restaurants, bars and kitchens.
As well as F&B, Front of House, Housekeeping, Banqueting, Accounting, Purchasing, etc., I worked in the myriad of trades that filled the basement levels, such as laundry, dry cleaning, engineering, printing, french polishing, carpentry, medical, security, etc., in fact practically every trade that would be found in a small town. I learned to operate the telephone switchboard (making hundreds of wake-up calls were a nightmare), the Western Union telegraph machine, the manual rooms reservation system, the electro-mechanical accounting machines.
 I remember finishing a shift as a lift operator one Sunday night at 11pm, and at 8am the next morning being on duty at the assistant manager’s desk in the lobby, resplendent in black jacket and striped trousers. The following week I was in dirty brown overalls as a houseman, cleaning the employee changing rooms.
As well as the myriad of skills in all aspects of working life that I accumulated, I would believe that the experience of working alongside the many nationalities, races, religions, sexual orientations & personalites, all in perfect harmony, was the finest qualification for life anyone can hope for.
Garry Barnett

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