Davos WEF
Davos WEF

'Optimistic' Hilton Worldwide CEO says Trump's trade remarks are just 'an opening salvo'

Hilton CEO on Trump rhetoric: It's just an opening salvo

President-elect Donald Trump's hard-line stance on trade is not much more than posturing, Christopher Nassetta, CEO of Hilton Worldwide, told CNBC on Wednesday.

"I think it's a bit of an opening salvo," the hotel chain chief told "Squawk on the Street." "My own belief is that as things settle down it's not going to be as bad as people think."

Speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Nassetta said that his own conversations with Trump and his team have not led him to believe that the new administration is against free trade, as some critics have insinuated.

"I think they're saying that they want more balance to trade," he said.

Nassetta also said that he was in the "optimistic bunch" of U.S. corporate leaders looking forward, citing the beginning stages of a turnaround in a key portion of his business — corporate travel.

"What we saw last year in our business, real time, was corporate America was very nervous for a whole bunch of reasons. What was going on in the election, what was going on with terrorism around the world and they stopped traveling," Nassetta said.

Now, the CEO said he is seeing a slight uptick in the area of business-related travel, as sentiment about the new administration begins to creep up among American business leaders as well.

"Broadly, in American CEOs there's a more optimistic view," Nassetta said. "We do see the early telltale signs that corporate America is becoming more optimistic and they're starting to make decisions to spend more money as a consequence of that optimism."

"You're going to see optimism build a bit, you're going to see capital spending go up, you're going to see employment go up with that, and when you see those things happening, demand in hotel rooms go up," he said.