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Lofty Aspirations

Radisson Hotel Group Leadership Frames Goals, Objectives During Press Briefing

Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Dennis Nessler
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A handful of key Radisson Hotel Group executives took part in a press briefing at last week’s annual conference where they addressed a number of topics, including entering Chinese markets, possible brand extension through acquisition and the ongoing quest to become one of the top hotel companies in the world.

Taking place at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, the executive team was led by John Kidd, CEO and COO, Radisson Hospitality, Inc., and Ken Greene, president of the Americas for Radisson Hotel Group.

Kidd spoke specifically about the Chinese-owned company’s ongoing efforts to enter into Chinese markets and how it plans to appeal to those guests traveling to the U.S.

“Many of us here have lived and/or worked in China but we don’t make any assumptions that we know what the Chinese customers really want and how to bring them here so we’re going straight to the source. We’re going to the Chinese market, to the Chinese travel agents, and really drilling into what do Chinese customers want at different segment levels? What are they looking for and what are their expectations? And in that regard we have tremendous support and help from our owner Jin Jiang,” he said.

Kidd and Greene were asked by Hotel Interactive® if they would consider an acquisition of a brand or brands, particularly in light of their new ownership Jin Jiang, which now represents the second largest hospitality company in the world.

“We don’t anticipate that. Our five-year plan is an organic growth plan. We’ve talked a lot over the last 18 months about the competitive advantage that we believe that we have with all the consolidation that has gone on, particularly in the Americas. Having one brand per segment is going back to really the roots of hospitality 25 years ago and it’s resonating with owners,” said Greene, who did later add he would “never say never.”

Kidd reinforced the point. “If we can not grow effectively organically then why are we here? If we’re just going to maintain the existing stock of hotels and maybe change 10 every year, we’re not doing what we should be and not delivering to our owner at the end of the day. Having said that Jin Jiang has indicated that they’re not looking for an acquisition but if a project came along that was really worthwhile, I’m not talking about scale necessarily I’m talking about a real business case that could be justified and explained, then they would entertain discussion on it. We’re focused on organic [growth], we’ve done all this work over the last two years and it is all for naught if we just keep on looking for acquisitions and trying to expand that way. We really believe with our seven brands we’re tightly focused and we have an answer for every segment,” he insisted.

Greene responded to a follow-up question by acknowledging the company does have interest in the extended-stay segment. “We always talk about it. In Europe they’ve already started using residences for the Radisson Blu brand. We haven’t done that here yet because we need to establish Radisson Blu in this marketplace. Once we establish that those are things we can start to consider. Extended stay is a smaller market but it is the fastest growing segment. We have our eye on it,” he said.

During the conference, the company announced that some 18 percent of rooms within its flagship Radisson had exited the system as a result of not being up to par with brand standards.

Greene elaborated on the decision. “From a strategic perspective it’s an easy decision, if you don’t meet the standards or aren’t willing to meet the standards you have no business being part of the brand. From a financial perspective they are very difficult decisions. If you don’t make the decision though then you live in this constant cycle of never really getting to achieve the financial goals that you want to. At some point you got to do it the right way,” he stated.

Greene continued, “The decision really becomes do I want to keep somebody that’s not doing everything at the expense of losing one of the owners that are doing all those things? If I keep the guy who’s not doing the right things the folks who are doing the right things will leave so it becomes a fairly simple decision.”

The company’s leadership, which has previously expressed its desire to be thought of as one of the top three hotel companies in the world, was asked to chart their progress.

Greene talked some of the metrics through which that progress can be measured. “It becomes very subjective, but there are some indicators. You look at the growth of your loyalty program; how often they come back to you; how long for the turnover of employees and their helpfulness in recruiting others to be part of the culture; the renewal rates of franchise agreements; and the growth of owners adding other properties,” he noted.

Kidd emphasized the discussion is not about size and scale. “We really truly and honestly believe and want to be the first choice or one of the top three choices of any owner, guest or any talent looking for a future in the hospitality industry. If any of those three [entities] thinks of a hotel company or set of brands or a brand to join for each of their respective reasons than our brands will be in the top 3, that’s really what we’re aiming for,” he said, adding, “we’ll let you know when we get there; soon.”
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Dennis Nessler    Dennis Nessler
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Hotel Interactive®, Inc.
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