By Colleen Isherwood, Editor
ORLANDO — Every moment matters — that's the theme of the Radisson Hotel Group's 2018 Americas Business Conference at the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel in Orlando this week. The conference was chock full of changes all with the goal of bringing more customers to RHG properties, who spend more but cost less to acquire.
Ken Greene, president, Americas, Radisson Hotel Group, kicked off the business sessions today with a personal anecdote to prove the importance of every moment. At his first job out of graduate school, he met the company president in the hallway. They connected by talking about Sun Tzu's book, The Art of War. That connection led to Greene telling the president about his family's military history. “Before long, I was reporting directly to him, and that 60-second meeting 30 years ago helped set the shape of my career,” Greene said.
The conference, the first for the newly-christened Radisson Hotel Group, formerly Carlson Rezidor, featured an awards ceremony, with several Canadian winners. Each winner had a star on the Radisson Walk of Fame.
Greene said it was the largest such conference in the history of the company, with 1,400 attendees. There was rain at the outdoor reception following the awards presentation; it ruined some of the food, but failed to dampen the spirits of conference attendees. And the skies later cleared for a spectacular fireworks celebration.
News dominated the Tuesday morning business session. Here are some of the highlights:
1. The company plans to double its number of hotels in the next five years, from 1,400 properties in 114 countries to 2,800. At same time, RHG has already started getting rid of about 10 to 15 per cent of its non-performing properties.
2. Radisson Hotel Group's vision is to be among the world's Top 3 hotel groups. “That's in terms of guest preference, not size,” explained Greene in a media Q&A following the opening session.
3. The former Carlson Club loyalty program has been renamed Radisson Rewards. Changes include waiving the first stay enrolment fee, fast-tracking elite status, and providing rewards for business travel planners. Radisson wants to double the number of rewards members, and to do that it needs to average five enrolments per hotel per day globally. There's an incentive aimed at guests who book Radisson Hotel Group properties on OTAs. If they book a Radisson hotel through a direct channel in the ensuing six months, they will get triple the rewards points. The changes to the loyalty program fit in well with the goal of acquiring customers a lower cost.
4. EMMA — Every Moment MAtters — is a new, comprehensive technology platform that is exclusive to RHG. “She will cover reservations, property management, revenue management, loyalty, sales, meeting, events and business intelligence and analytics,” said Kevin Carl, executive vice-president and chief information officer, RHG, adding that, “It's a great day to be the IT guy — I'm very excited [about this platform].”
5. Radisson Hotel Group as a whole has 1,000 hotels with 6,500 meeting rooms in 96 countries. RHG is working to have one meetings booking platform for all its different brands. “We'll have huge efficiencies because there will be one platform,” said Eric De Neef, executive vice-president and global chief branding and commercial officer, RHG. The next step will provide direct booking of meetings online.
At the conference, RHG inked deals for a new-build Radisson Blu hotel in Anaheim, Calif., and a new-build Radisson for Times Square in New York City. “The addition of these hotels illustrates that we're already executing on our plan for expansion in our key gateway markets, along with further establishing our Radisson Blu brand in the U.S.,” said Greene.
Could Canada be subject of the next Radisson Blu announcement?
“As you know, I have a passion for Canada, and we have some of the big Canadian owners at the conference this week,” said Greene, who is best known here for heading Delta Hotels & Resorts before its sale to Marriott. “A bunch of Radisson Blu deals are not too far away,” he noted.
“We're focused on Canada with all of our brands — Canada is right in the middle of our radar.”