After announcing a new company identity in March, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind for the freshly dubbed Radisson Hotel Group, previously Carlson Rezidor. And this week in Orlando, at the company’s first Americas Business Conference under the new moniker, spirits were extremely high. “Radisson Hotel Group is more than a new name. It’s a movement that creates extraordinary synergies across all areas of our business. It better aligns our global portfolio, it refreshes the value we bring to market, and it meets the changing needs of the growing hospitality and travel industries,” Ken Greene, president of the Americas, said during the opening general session on Tuesday.
The 2018 conference theme was “Every Moment Matters,” a message that pervaded all three days of the event. “Every choice we make, every plan we put into place, every guest that we serve, every moment we spend improving the way we do business, matters. In each moment, there is an opportunity, and now is our time,” Greene noted.
Conference attendees had the opportunity to meet with revenue specialists, attend educational sessions, visit tradeshow vendors, and network with their fellow Radisson Hotel Group hoteliers. It also gave Radisson executives an opportunity to share their ambitious five-year growth plan, which aims to double the size of the Radisson Hotel Group portfolio and make it a “Top 3” hotel company by 2022. “Part of our five-year strategy is to establish a holistic approach that emphasizes that we will thrive collectively—that we are greater as a whole than the sum of our parts,” John Kidd, CEO and COO of Radisson Hospitality Inc., said.
The company has several initiatives in the works to bolster this growth, from new technologies to updated branding for its core brands. That said, Greene and the other executives in attendance all stressed the necessity of going back to the roots of hospitality and providing more resources to Radisson Hotel Group owners. “We’re going back to having one brand per segment, because that’s the way this business was founded,” he said. “Those brands were built on the backs of great owners who brought a vision. Those owners truly had a voice at the table on how brands migrated and evolved. The potential has shifted from 100 percent being owner-focused to 100 percent being consumer-focused. We believe you have to focus on both.”
The new technology is already in the works. Radisson execs announced a new platform for their hoteliers called “Emma.” “We are partnering with some of the world’s leading technology companies to create Emma, a unified platform that will encompass all aspects of our business,” Kevin Carl, Radisson’s chief information officer, explained. “She will touch all of our core functions, including reservations, property management, revenue management, guest loyalty, sales, meetings and events, food and beverage, business intelligence and analytics, and more.”
Customer acquisition and guest loyalty were also hot topics at the conference. The company is laser-focused on increasing enrollments in Radisson Rewards—the successor to its Club Carlson rewards program. They’re removing the first-stay fee that had been associated with the previous program, and setting a goal for each property in the Radisson system to execute five new enrollments each day. “The more we can grow Radisson Rewards, the more we’ll create loyal customers who are going to spend more, and we are going to be able to acquire them at a lower cost,” Charlie McKee, SVP and chief commercial officer at Radisson, said.
Another key focus for Radisson Hotel Group is positioning its flagship Radisson brand as a foundation for future company growth. There are 160 Radisson hotels in operation or under development in the Americas, and all will be expected to update to the brand’s new design aesthetic, which focuses on streamlined, yet comfortable natural designs that call back to the brand’s Scandinavian roots. This is a very ambitious initiative, and between 15 and 20 percent of existing Radisson hotels are expected to exit the system. “The goal is providing a product and service experience that is differentiated from competitors and works toward making us the top choice,” Aly El-Bassuni, SVP of franchise operations for the Americas, said. “With the Radisson brand specifically, we are taking on a significant amount of work to rebuild, re-establish, and re-envision the brand itself to ultimately improve all of our business.”
On the last day of the conference, the leadership team also announced that Radisson Hotel Group would partner with SOS Children’s Villages, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to building loving, stable families for orphaned, abandoned, and other vulnerable children. Radisson Hotel Group aims for each of its hotels to sponsor the upbringing and education of at least one child and establish meaningful local relationships with SOS Villages worldwide. “This partnership with SOS Children’s Villages brings our core values full circle and aligns with our responsible business commitment to think people, think community, and think planet,” said Kidd. “SOS provides orphaned, abandoned, and vulnerable children with more than just food and shelter—it provides them a chance to have a family and future. Together with SOS, we will help transform lives through care, hospitality, and compassion.”
Top photo: Ken Greene, president of the Americas, Radisson Hotel Group