President & Chief Executive Officer at Hilton Worldwide
Thank you, Jill. Good morning, everyone and thanks for joining us today. Before we begin, I'd like to take a minute to express our sadness at the tragic events continuing to unfold in Ukraine. Our hotels have always been a part of the fabric of the communities we serve and we take our promise to make those communities better places to live and work very seriously. Along with the steps we've taken to protect our team members and guests, we've also partnered with American Express and our ownership community to donate up to 1 million room nights across Europe to support Ukrainian refugees and humanitarian relief efforts. Additionally, the Hilton Global Foundation has contributed to World Central Kitchen and Project Hope to further assist with the humanitarian aid. We are keeping our Hilton family and everyone impacted by these horrific events in our thoughts and hope for a peaceful resolution to this crisis.
Our Hilton values and purpose-led culture have led us through uncertainty as well as recovery. Our team members around the world have worked hard to effectively navigate the challenges over the last 2 years and as a result, have positioned Hilton even stronger for the future. As we look to the year ahead, we are optimistic that our industry-leading RevPAR premiums and fee-based capital-light business model, coupled with further demand recovery, will continue to drive strong performance and meaningful free cash flow which will enable us to return significant capital to shareholders in a disciplined way. With recent performance exceeding our expectation, we were pleased to have resumed our Capital Return Program earlier than anticipated, beginning share repurchases in March. Through April, we had completed approximately $265 million of buybacks. Additionally, we have declared a $0.15 per share quarterly dividend, further highlighting the confidence in continued recovery and the strength of our model. For the year, we expect to return $1.4 billion to $1.8 billion to shareholders in the form of buybacks and dividends.
Turning to results in the quarter, system-wide RevPAR increased more than 80% year-over-year, driving adjusted EBITDA up 126%. RevPAR was approximately 83% of 2019 levels with adjusted EBITDA at 90%. Despite a choppy start to the year given Omicron related demand pressures, trends picked up meaningfully month-over-month with RevPAR declines versus 2019 improving approximately 17 percentage points from January to March, down only 9% to 2019, driven by acceleration across all segments. In March, system-wide rates were up 3% compared to 2019. Strong leisure transient trends continued to boost weekend performance with RevPAR in the quarter exceeding 2019 levels and rates up approximately 9% versus prior peaks, acceleration in business transient and group trends drove meaningful improvement midweek.
U.S. business transient RevPAR increased sequentially versus the fourth quarter, with March down only 9% compared to 2019 levels. Improving trends from large accounts, along with continued strength from SMEs results. In March, revenue from large accounts was just 12% below 2019. Overall business transient now comprises 45% of total segment mix just 10-point shy of prepandemic levels. For April, overall U.S. transient booked revenue for all future periods was up 17% versus 2019 levels, with rates up 10% and room nights up 7%. Weekday booked revenue was up 9% compared to 2019 and weekend booked revenue was up 38%, driven largely by strong rate gains.
On the group side, social and smaller events continue to lead recovery, while demand for company meetings and conventions improved meaningfully throughout the quarter. In March, total group RevPAR was more than 75% of 2019 levels, improving approximately 25 points versus January. Additionally, group revenue booked in the first quarter for all future periods was down just 4% relative to 2019 levels and total lead volume for all future periods was up 3.5%. Compared to 2019, our tentative booking revenue is up significantly with rate gains for company meetings up more than 13%. Additionally, rates on new group bookings for in-year arrivals are strong, up in the high single digits versus 2019.
As we look to the balance of the year, we remain optimistic. Positive momentum has continued into the second quarter with April RevPAR tracking at roughly 95% of 2019 levels. While macro risks and uncertainty exists, forecast for economic growth remain healthy. Additionally, our ability to reprice rooms in real time creates a natural inflation hedge. We think there is a good likelihood that we'll reach 2019 system-wide RevPAR levels during the third quarter.
For the full year, we expect leisure RevPAR to exceed 2019 peak levels given excess consumer savings, a strong job market and pent-up demand. We expect business transient to be roughly back to 2019 levels by year-end, with expectations supported by rising corporate profits, rebounding demand from big businesses and loosening travel restrictions. On the group side, we expect RevPAR to be at approximately 90% of 2019 levels by year-end, as demand for company meetings and convention business accelerates into the back half of the year.
On the development front, our leading RevPAR index premiums and powerful commercial engines continued to drive out performance. In the quarter, we added more than 13,000 rooms and achieved 5% net unit growth. We continue to deliver on our commitment to discipline and strategic growth, celebrating important milestones across segments and geographies. We opened our 500th Homewood in the U.S., our 50th Hilton Garden Inn in Asia Pacific and debuted our largest hotel in the Asia Pacific region with the opening of the 1,080 room Hilton Singapore Orchard. With a contemporary design, innovative dining experiences and extensive meeting space, the property is a fantastic representation of our flagship brand and puts us in an even stronger position in Asia to usher in a new era of travel.
Building on last quarter's momentum, we also continued expanding our lifestyle portfolio with the openings of the Canopy Boston Downtown and the Canopy New Orleans. Even with strong openings, we grew our pipeline to more than 410,000 rooms up year-over-year and versus the fourth quarter. We continue to lead the industry in new development signings with Home2 Suites surpassing all other competitor brands globally. We demonstrated our commitment to further expand our luxury and lifestyle portfolios in the world's most sought-after destinations with the signing of the Waldorf Astoria Sydney, the Conrad Austin Hotel & Residences and Canopy Properties in Cannes and Downtown Nashville.
We look forward to delivering world-class service and unforgettable experiences in these exciting destinations. Conversion signings in the quarter were up 15% year-over-year and represented nearly 20% of overall signings. In recent months, we signed agreements to bring our conversion-friendly brands, Curio and Tapestry to exciting destinations like the Galapagos Islands, San Sebastian Spain, Maui and Sonoma County, California. DoubleTree has continued to lead the way for European upscale growth with new conversion properties across France, Germany and the Netherlands.
While rising costs are pressuring construction starts, we are on track to deliver 5% net unit growth for the year and remain confident in our ability to return to a 6% to 7% growth rate over the next few years. Reliable and friendly service are at the heart of our promise to our guests and we continue to leverage our direct channels to offer them even more personalized experiences. Direct bookings continued to grow in the quarter that represent roughly 75% of our total bookings led by growth in Digital Direct. OTA mix continued to decline and is approaching pre-pandemic levels as increases in business transient and group demand shifted customer mix.
In the quarter, Hilton Honors membership grew 15% to more than 133 million members. Honors members accounted for 60% of occupancy, flat versus the first quarter of 2019. And average nights per member were up 11% year-over-year as engagement continued to grow. As we continue recovering from the impacts of the pandemic, I am inspired every day by the dedication of our team members as we welcome more guests back to our hotels. It's because of them and our culture of hospitality, that we continue to be recognized as a Great Place To Work. In fact, Hilton was recently named the second best company to work for in the United States by Fortune and Great Place to Work, something I'm truly proud of.
And now, I'll turn the call over to Kevin for more details on our results in the quarter and our expectations for the year ahead. Kevin?