Name: Kemmons Wilson.
Age: Late 80's.
'Foolish' Idea: To build a chain of hotels that wouldn't charge for children who stayed in the same room as their parents.
Start-up Capital: Cost of building and opening first hotel.
How Idea was Launched: The Holiday Inn hotel chain began with the first hotel built and opened in Memphis. 3 more quickly followed in the city. In just 10 yrs, over 400 hotels were opened.
Sales: The Holiday Inn hotel chain is the world's largest with more than 2,200 in over 100 countries.
Spin-offs: Wilson Companies includes 40 different small businesses. Kemmons Wilson has also written his autobiography, 'Half Luck and Half Brains'.
Kemmons Wilson, the founder of the Holiday Inn hotel chain, credits his mother for his success; because she told him, he could do anything he wanted. She told him so many times, that she finally convinced Kemmons, she was right and he could do anything he wanted.
His father had died when Kemmons was just 9 months old. Childhood was a time of poverty, sometimes the only food they ate for weeks was lima beans. When his mother, Ruby, lost her job, Kemmons dropped out of high school to earn money. He had a variety of jobs, selling popcorn at cinemas, peddling toasted cheese sandwiches from a cigar stand and then placing used pinball machines into lucrative positions.
He started up a real estate business which became a success. In 1951, on a rare holiday with his wife Dorothy and their five children, he hit upon the idea that would change his life. When a hotel charged an extra $2 for each child, he thought it was so scandalous that he told Dorothy he was going to build a chain of hotels that would let children stay in the same room as their parents - for free. He also told his wife he'd build 400 of them.
At that time he'd only built houses, but he reasoned if he could build a house, he could build a hotel.
The following summer the first Holiday Inn opened in Memphis and three more quickly followed. In just 10 years, Kemmons Wilson had passed his goal of 400 hotels. In 1979 he resigned as Chairman of Holiday Inn, but he didn't retire. His three sons help him to oversee Wilson Companies, which includes 40 different businesses.
His personal success tips are: