HB ON THE SCENE: At Summit, Hilton Supply Management features refresh

WASHINGTON—At its first ever Global Supply Summit, Hilton Supply Management (HSM) touted its reinvention as a company.

This transformation began when Anu Saxena, SVP/global head of procurement of HSM moved into her role in 2017, rejoining the supply company after spending two years as VP, product management, global brands and product innovation with Hilton.

“We started on a journey [to]tell the story of HSM better,” said Saxena. “In order to do that, we first needed to figure out who we are. I joined, and we started on this journey that we call HSM 2.0. In essence, it is taking a look to see as an organization—are we fit for scale and for purpose? Have we clearly defined what we do? And how much have we told our story?”

She found that many people in the business were unclear as to what the company does—even though it was first launched as Hilton Equipment Corporation more than 50 years ago. “What surprises me most is I still have people—owners and general managers—coming to me and saying, ‘What does HSM do again?’ because they think of us as Sysco, or they think of us as F&B people, or maybe one contract,” she said. “They don’t think of us as this global procurement group, this purchasing powerhouse that influences $5 billion in spend, employs people all around the world and is engaged in every aspect of hospitality. Oh, and by the way, it has an extremely close relationship with a brand organization.”

Saxena continued, “We have always been good at resupply and volume purchasing of any hotel operating supplies. Hilton has been around for 100 years; we were pioneers—we were the first hotel company that created an organized procurement arm 50 years ago… We were the first ones that decided, ‘Let’s pool our spend across hotels together and make it a better value proposition across our entire enterprise.’ We have developed quite a bit since then, so we have been good at volume and supply for several years.”

Among the many changes HSM has made recently, she said the most important one is to the project procurement team. “This is a team that helps owners and brands when it comes to capital purchases, which means new-builds and renovations,” she said. “This team purchases for that. But before we can do that, we need to develop purchase-ready, pre-approved, brand-approved packages for our prototypical brands that makes it cost-efficient for owners to say, ‘Not only do I want HSM doing my buying, I want to pick that package where you have already done the heavy lifting for me. You are making it easier to build a Hilton over a competitor.’ That has been where I have spent most of my time… Obviously, people have been creating packages for quite a while. It is newer to us.”

HSM also created a renewed focus in its brand programs. “We have a whole team of people who do nothing but work for the brands on developing new programs, on ideating what the new trends are,” she said. “We challenge our suppliers to bring the best to us first. They are in the same industry we are. They are seeing things before we are. We want to bring that to the forefront. That is what the brand engagement and the brand programs team does.”

HSM is also more connected with the brands and involved with design and product decisions. “Each brand has their own HSM counterpart,” said Saxena. “These are not people sourcing; this is another team that lives and breathes what the brand needs prior to launch, during launch and after launch, if they have a new initiative.”

She is excited about what HSM has become. “We are on the tail end of that journey,” she said. “I consider it a bigger, better version of ourselves. We have hired some amazing talent from around the industry. We rallied around these areas of business that we declared our value proposition to.” HB

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