David Oliver: Millennial is a mindset, not an age

TORONTO — Veteran hotelier David Oliver, new VP of development, Canada for Carlson Rezidor, says while brands like Radisson Red are designed for millennials — the appeal is to a certain mindset, rather than an age range.

David Oliver has the millennial mindset.

David Oliver has the millennial mindset.

TORONTO — Veteran Canadian hotelier David Oliver, who has just become vice-president of development, Canada, for Carlson Rezidor, says while brands like Radisson Red are designed for millennials — the appeal is to a certain mindset, rather than an age range.

Oliver has rejoined Carlson Rezidor,
having
previously served on the development team from 2003 to 2009. He was
most recently senior vice-president of asset management and capital planning
for Dundee 360 Real Estate Corporation which has a portfolio of 5,000+ luxury
rooms of Fairmont and Hilton hotel assets across North America. Oliver has also
held development positions with Wyndham Worldwide and Starwood Hotels in Canada. Based in Toronto, he will report to Philip Silberstein, executive vice
president, Development, Americas.

While he is selling several of Carlson Rezidor's brands in Canada, including the Radisson family of Blu, Green and Red, Park Plaza, Park Inn and Country Inn and Suites, he is very enthusiastic about Radisson Red. Oliver recently toured the latest Radisson Red, which just opened in Minneapolis, Minn.

“Radisson Red is hip and fun. There's excitement just going there — a certain vibe, a splash of colour. It's driven by communications, with a lounge, music wall and giant screens as you go in. The food is patterned after street food that's global in nature. It's a casual and comfortable lounge environment, with food, craft beers and well-priced appetizers and entrees. It's like a gathering of food trucks in a small lounge area, with pickings from around the world.”

OUIBAR at Radisson Red Minneapolis.

OUIBAR at Radisson Red Minneapolis.

The advantage of Radisson Red for new build or conversion development is that the room package has a smaller footprint — it doesn't have to be 350 square feet and can be adapted to the price point needed for the location. There's a table instead of a desk, which offers multiple uses; showers instead of baths and bright colours everywhere.

A key differentiator is that Radisson Red integrates with everything surrounding the hotel — art, music, culture, fashion — which suits millennials whom Oliver defines as anyone who is looking to be immersed in what's going on in the community.

The guestroom footprint can be quite small.

The guestroom footprint can be quite small.

“Millennials are ageless; I am a millennial,” he says. “It's about the mindset and what the consumer is looking for rather than a specific age. It's for people who want to use their smartphone and order food services themselves, who want an individualized experience, who are savvy about design.”

Oliver sees Radisson Red as being suitable for area like Toronto's fashion or entertainment districts, the Danforth, Little Italy or Little Portugal — any areas that have lots of vibe, where people are going for action. Vancouver's Gastown or Montreal's old city, old port, entertainment district or St-Denis area all qualify.

“Each of the cities across Canada has areas where condos are being built and designed around small villages of restaurants. Red blends in with that environment, and its makeup is adjusted according to what is in the surroundings that is available to visitors. Staffing draws from people who live in the area, know the area and are excited about being there.”

Radisson Reds can vary in size from 80 to 300 rooms. They're not convention hotels, although they can accommodate small meetings of up to 100 or 150 people. “The lobby is integrated with the meeting room, and it becomes a games room at night,” Oliver said.

Radisson Red Minneapolis corridor.

Radisson Red Minneapolis corridor.