MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Jim Alderman joined Radisson Hotel Group as CEO, Americas, on March 16, just in time for the worst crisis the hotel industry has ever faced. His first official day with Radisson Hotel Group was when they began closing their office as a safety measure to slow the spread of COVID-19. He’s had experience in different roles in the hotel industry, even cleaning hotels when he was in his teens. Here’s what his first few weeks on the job have entailed.
Canadian Lodging News: You joined Radisson on March 16, just in time for the worst crisis the hotel industry has ever faced. What have your first several weeks on the job been like?
Jim Alderman: It has been interesting to say the least. However, I am extremely grateful to have stepped into a role where I am surrounded by a seasoned leadership team that is experienced, strategic and resourceful. Our team immediately began making operational plans and adjustments to our business.
We are also focused on helping our franchisees as much as possible. We have been regularly communicating revised policies, strategies and best practices to assist them during this historic crisis. So far, we have implemented or deployed more than 20 measures designed to assist franchise owners operationally, commercially or through cost and expense savings.
Additionally, my first official day with Radisson Hotel Group was when we began closing our office as a safety measure to slow the spread of COVID-19. Although we have been hosting virtual meetings, I’m excited for the day we can safely reopen our offices and I can begin visiting our hotels to meet all our amazing team members in person.
CLN: I understand you have a varied background that includes a number of different positions within the hotel industry. How has this equipped you to handle your new job?
Jim Alderman: Throughout my 34 years in this industry, I have been fortunate enough to work for some amazing companies in a variety of different roles. I even started my career by cleaning hotels when I was just a teenager. This has given me an understanding and deep respect for every role in the hotel industry.
I am also excited to use my experience in development to further bolster the growth of Radisson Hotel Group in the Americas. When business and travel begin to safely resume, I believe our company has incredible growth potential in the Americas as we move forward in executing our five-year plan. I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead this organization, which has undergone a complete transformation of its business over the past few years. I am confident that the company’s vision, revitalized plans and dedicated team members will continue driving our success.
CLN: What is the most important role a leader can fill during this time of crisis? What are the most important things your team can do?
Jim Alderman: Early in my career I learned the importance of remaining calm, having a dedicated plan and remaining positive to get through the tough days. Our team members have been working tirelessly to develop initiatives to help our hotels during this unprecedented time. If our hotels aren’t successful, then our company isn’t successful. The impact of this pandemic has been extremely difficult, but I admire our team’s resilience and hard work on behalf of our hotels. One of the most important things our team members can do right now is making sure they’re taking care of themselves. Take a break, get outside and take a deep breath. We’re only as strong as our team, and we need to make sure everyone stays well.
CLN: What qualities about the Radisson organization have helped the company and its hotel owners and managers get through the crisis?
Jim Alderman: Our experienced leadership team brings an owner-centric mentality to everything we do. We regularly provide updates to our hotels and their teams so they stay informed and can leverage operational and commercial strategies and resources during this pandemic.
Despite all the challenges our hotels are facing, our team members are continuing to embrace our “Yes I Can!” service philosophy by making a difference in their community. We’re seeing hotels host blood drives, along with making and delivering food to the elderly and essential workers. Team members are sewing face masks to donate to local hospitals and frontline workers.
While there is no doubt our business has taken an unexpected blow, we still see the resilience of our team members protecting and helping their guests, communities and teammates while simultaneously finding a way to keep moving forward. Making every moment matter is truly at the heart of what our hotels do at Radisson Hotel Group.
CLN: How do you see the recovery unfolding and what changes to the industry do you anticipate?
Jim Alderman: Travellers will have different expectations than ever before, so we must collectively use this situation to successfully shape our businesses for the future. As the recovery begins, we may see a return to road trips and an increase in hotel bookings within driving distance from home until guests feel comfortable with air travel again. Either way, we will be prepared to protect our team members and our guests.
We recently announced a new global program of in-depth cleanliness and disinfection procedures in partnership with SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. These enhanced protocols, operational guidance and comprehensive health and safety procedures, validated by SGS, will be adapted based on local requirements and recommendations to ensure guests’ safety and peace of mind from check-in to check-out. This program will further strengthen our existing rigorous sanitation, cleanliness and disinfection guidelines at hotels globally.