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Hilton Worldwide Closing its Hazleton, PA
 Reservations Center Eliminating 176 Jobs

By Mia Light, Standard-Speaker, Hazleton, Pa.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Oct. 6, 2009--A 12-year tenant of the Humboldt Industrial Park is closing, leaving 176 employees without jobs, a company spokesman confirmed Monday.

Hilton Reservations and Customer Care -- a facility that handles reservations for the hotel chain -- at 102 Maplewood Drive, Hazle Township, will close Dec. 8 when the company consolidates its northeastern Pennsylvania customer service call center with its service center in Tampa, Fla., said Mark Ricci, director of Corporate Communications for Hilton Northeast U.S. and Canada.

"Hilton Worldwide has made the difficult decision to consolidate its East Coast operations and to close the Hazleton reservations center," Ricci said.

Ricci said the move to consolidate the global hotel chain's customer service centers was made to increase the company's efficiency in a sluggish economy.

"Across all aspects of its business, Hilton Worldwide is committed to maximizing operating efficiencies while maintaining service levels. In keeping with this commitment, the future needs of our northeastern hotels will be served primarily through our Tampa office with support from the rest of the Hilton Reservations and Customer Care operations," Ricci said.

The Hilton Reservation and Customer Care Center has been in operation at the Humboldt Industrial Park since 1997.

Just two years ago, the Hilton call center relocated to a 15,000-square-foot facility in Humboldt's Cornell building in 2007 after outgrowing its original 10,000-square-foot location in Humboldt's Forbo building.

Since 1997, the Hilton corporation acquired Hampton Inns, the Embassy Suites, and the Doubletree chain, and developed the Hilton Garden Inn.

Ricci said the Hilton corporation will provide on-site job search workshops to assist the 176 employees of the Hazleton center in securing new employment. Displaced employees who are interested in relocating can apply for job openings at any facility across the Hilton family of hotels, Ricci said.

As of January 2009, Hilton brands encompassed 3,200 hotels with 545,000 rooms in 77 countries.

Hilton is ranked by Forbes as the 36th largest private company in the United States.

The company currently owns, manages or franchises a portfolio of brands, including Hilton Hotels, Conrad Hotels, Doubletree, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hampton Inn, Hampton Inn and Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Grand Vacations Co., Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton, and the Waldorf-Astoria Collection.

Contacted Monday, officials at Hilton's Hazleton call center deferred comment on the closure to Ricci in the corporation's New York offices.

Efforts to reach a representative of CAN DO, Inc. -- the industrial development corporation that administers the Humboldt Industrial Park -- for comment on Hilton's announcement were unsuccessful.

On behalf of the Hilton corporation, Ricci extended thanks to the employees of Hilton in Humboldt, and to residents of the Greater Hazleton community.

"Hilton Worldwide would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank both the Hazleton Reservations Office team members for their many contributions to the success of the company and the residents of Hazleton for their support of the company's presence in their community for the past several years," Ricci said.


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