Hilton to Accelerate Expansion by Including New Graduate Hotels in Global Portfolio

Combining Graduate's loyal fan base with Hilton's size and scale will create new opportunities for owners and guests in some of the world's top university cities

(Source: Hilton)

Hilton announced an agreement with Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners (“AJ Capital”) to acquire the fan-favorite Graduate Hotels ® brand, adding a significant growth opportunity for the global market. Hotel leader in the rapidly growing lifestyle hotel market.  

Hilton will pay $210 million to acquire all rights to the Graduate brand worldwide, enter into franchise agreements for all existing and signed Graduate hotels, and become responsible for the development and future growth of the brand. AJ Capital will continue to own more than 35 Graduate properties in operation and in the pipeline, each of which will be operated under long-term Hilton franchise agreements.  

The transaction, which is expected to close in the second quarter, subject to customary closing conditions, including review and approval pursuant to Hart-Scott-Rodino, will be immediately accretive to Hilton. The company expects the fee contribution for the first full year of ownership to be approximately $16 million.

"The addition of Graduate Hotels to our portfolio of award-winning brands accelerates our expansion into the lifestyle space by combining a beloved existing brand with the power of Hilton's strong business engine to drive growth," said Chris Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton. “We have long had a high bar for adding brands to our portfolio, whether organically or through acquisitions, and Graduate will be another growth driver for us, presenting a unique opportunity to serve more guests in more sought-after destinations. With thousands of colleges and universities around the world, we believe the addressable market for the Graduate brand is 400 to 500 hotels worldwide.”

The addition of Graduate Hotels to Hilton's global portfolio will offer millions of travelers access to unparalleled hospitality in their favorite college cities. Steeped in history, charm and local nostalgia, each Graduate hotel is carefully designed to reflect the unique character of its local university, offering the perfect setting for game days, reunions, graduations, campus visits and more. Since its inception in 2014, the brand has grown to span the United States and the United Kingdom, including locations in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Knoxville, Tennessee; Palo Alto, California; State College, Pennsylvania; and Oxford and Cambridge, United Kingdom, with new hotels opening soon in Austin and Dallas, Texas; Chestnut, Alabama; and Princeton, New Jersey. "We are proud to embark on this new chapter for Graduate Hotels with Hilton, the ideal partner to lead the brand's continued growth," said Ben Weprin, founder of Graduate Hotels and CEO of AJ Capital. "Both Hilton and Graduate Hotels are committed to delivering exceptional experiences and positively impacting communities. Our shared values ​​and close collaboration will ensure a seamless transition while keeping Graduate Hotels' unique brand identity intact. Supported by our extensive network "From Hilton, guests can anticipate even more exciting opportunities. We are confident that this partnership will propel Graduate Hotels to even greater heights, while AJ's continued ownership of the real estate assets lays a solid foundation for our future success."

The Graduate brand will join Hilton's rapidly growing lifestyle portfolio alongside Canopy by Hilton, Curio Collection by Hilton, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, Tempo by Hilton and Motto by Hilton, each of which launched in recent 10 years to respond to growing traveler demand for localized travel experiences. Hilton's 2024 Trends Report identified that nearly a quarter of global travelers are planning getaways for concerts, sporting events and other unique local experiences this year, many of which occur in university-anchored secondary markets.

Graduate Hotels is expected to be available for bookings through Hilton channels later this year and will participate in Hilton Honors, Hilton's award-winning guest loyalty program for the company's portfolio of more than 7,500 properties worldwide. world. Members who book directly with Hilton can access instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that lets you choose almost any combination of points and money to book a stay, exclusive member discounts, free standard Wi-Fi, and the mobile app Hilton Honors.  

Hilton continues to offer guests the right stay for every travel occasion through an unmatched portfolio of industry-leading brands, plus exclusive partnerships that create more experiences guests can dream of. The addition of Graduate, as well as recently announced partnerships with Small Luxury Hotels of the World and AutoCamp, adds to the company's dramatic growth trajectory and reflects its focus on accelerating guest offerings in top-tier markets and segments. rapid growth of the industry.

Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. is the sole financial advisor to AJ Capital on this transaction.

Source: Hilton.

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