ORLANDO, Fla. (March 4, 2010)—During a much anticipated address, Carlson President and CEO Hubert Joly highlighted plans for the company’s five-year growth strategy, dubbed Ambition 2015, on Wednesday at the Carlson Global Conference here. Additional details of the plan emerged during the conference on Thursday.
At the heart of the company’s global growth strategy is an approximately $1 billion to $1.5 billion investment in rejuvenating the Radisson brand in North America, particularly in the United States. Joly said the company will invest in renovating existing Radisson properties and create tiers for the brand. Radisson Blu, which is expected to make its first appearance in the U.S. in 2011, according to Joly, will represent the upper-upscale tier while the Radisson brand name will represent the upscale tier.
The company will also establish flagship Radisson hotels in key U.S. cities. Joly said the first one is in the works and an announcement on which city it will be in is forthcoming, later this year.
“We believe this is a great time to invest in the hotel business,” Joly said. “We have a comprehensive and compelling strategy to build the business.”
As part of the effort, the company has debuted five new model rooms. It has also created new service programs such as business class service.
The plan focuses on four priority growth initiatives: expanding Radisson as a globally consistent first-class brand, accelerating the growth of Country Inns & Suites By Carlson in four key markets (U.S., Canada, India, and Mexico), growing Park Inn in key countries, and continuing to grow in key emerging markets.
Joly said the company also wants to establish a clear position for each brand and "operationalize" the brands’ promises.
Clarity is one of the reasons the U.S. will soon be seeing the Radisson Blu moniker, which is popular in Europe and Asia. Globally, Radisson Blu will represent the brand’s upper-upscale properties, while Radisson (with the familiar green swoosh in its logo) will represent upscale properties.
Joly also said that the company is seeking to grow its portfolio by 50 percent over the next five years.
The company is planning both product and service enhancements. The renovations will include new color schemes that are designed to be bold and modern, yet offer a comfortable feel. There is also a great deal of amenity upgrades in the plans. Joly said the initiatives take into consideration “travel empathy.” “The hotel is the only part of the travel business where you still have a chance to be treated like a human being,” he told the crowd of attendees at the conference.
In building Radisson in North America, the company will increase its emphasis on leisure travelers. That’s because, Joly said, the leisure market is now larger than the business market and its share is increasing. He also said consumers are evolving, with a generational shift happening.
Joly admits the plan is ambitious and will require a large investment, hence the name of the plan. “This is an ambitious strategy. As we go into 2010, our ambition is really about growth,” he said.
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