Greatest Hospitality Entrepreneurs of All Time

UPDATED: May 6, 2008
PUBLISHED: May 6, 2008

William Becker 1921-2007 Paul Greene 1914-1994 They weren't the first to create no-frills lodging, but William Becker and Paul Greene reinvented the budget hotel in 1962 when they opened their first Motel 6 in Santa Barbara, Calif. Their predecessors, Best Western and Holiday Inn, wanted to sidestep the proletarian image of "motor" or "highway hotels" and build more-upscale properties. But Becker and Greene were low-cost housing developers who, during their own family road trips, recognized the need for affordable family lodging with uniform price and uniform quality. The price? Six dollars a night, no matter the location.

Quote: "Simple accommodations needed by travelers with families may cause a revolution in the West, and we feel it has a great future.” (William Becker)

J.W.Marriott Jr. b.1938 In a bold move for a farm boy from Utah, J. Willard Marriott Sr. married his college sweetheart and packed her off to Washington, D.C., where he opened a nine-stool root beer stand in 1927. That A&W stand morphed into an international hotel chain with more than 3,000 worldwide properties under the leadership of his son, W. "Bill" Marriott Jr. The younger Marriott shifted focus in the 1970s from hotel ownership to property management and franchising, which allowed Marriott International to grow faster and expand into other brands ranging from limited-service to full-service luxury hotels and resorts. Marriott mused in his 1997 book The Spirit to Serve: "At the most basic level, systems help bring order to the natural messiness of human enterprise. Give 100 people the same task-without providing ground rules-and you'll end up with at least a dozen, if not 100, different results. Efficient systems and clear rules help everyone to deliver a consistent product and service."

Quote: "If customers are treated right, they'll come back."

Conrad Hilton Sr. 1887-1979 Before his family name graced more gossip pages than business pages, Conrad Hilton founded the first coast-to-coast hotel chain in 1943 and followed suit with the first international hotel brand in 1949. He staked his hotels' reputation beyond a comfortable place to sleep and on the "light and warmth of hospitality," as he often stated. From an unknown innkeeper in a tiny Texas town to hotelier of a billion-dollar international empire, Hilton is a case study in building from the ground up…one room at a time.

Quote: "When times are bad, you might lose nearly everything-but keep at it, don't give up, and you might also get it back."

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