Executives at Radisson Hotel Group’s Americas Business Conference announced news of changing the Rezidor name to Radisson Hospitality, addressed HNA concerns and focused on growth strategies for brands under the new name.
ORLANDO, Florida—During a general session at the first Americas Business Conference under the Radisson Hotel Group name, Rezidor Hotel Group president and CEO Federico González announced the company is in the process of moving its corporate name to Radisson Hospitality, and John Kidd, CEO of Radisson Hospitality, said the activities of the company’s major shareholder, HNA Group, are not a concern.
“(HNA) purchased the Carlson side of Rezidor Group with the intention of bringing out (value),” Kidd said. “My esteemed colleagues and I, we’ve spent the last year coming up with (a plan), which will drive that value up, and we’re just really excited about that side of the process.”
HNA has been on a selling spree to avoid a takeover from the Chinese government, but Kidd said his company has the finances to keep itself afloat.
“In terms of financing the plan, we’re on top of that, there’s absolutely no problem,” he said. “…As CEO of (Radisson Hospitality), it’s my concern that we don’t have to go to our parent ever again to need money to carry on the business; we’re perfectly capable of doing that ourselves.”
In terms of the name change, González told attendees Rezidor will move the corporate name to Radisson Hospitality if approved by shareholders in April.
Maintaining standards, major market growth
Executives at the conference also announced the signing of two new-construction hotels in two major U.S. markets: The 320-room Radisson Hotel New York City – Manhattan/Times Square and the 326-room Radisson Blu Anaheim in Anaheim, California.
The openings of these hotels are part of an effort to grow the brands in key U.S. gateway cities, and Ken Greene, president, Americas, at Radisson Hotel Group, said the Times Square hotel is a big play for the brand.
“Our opportunity to reposition and refresh the Radisson brand, it really starts with improving the quality of the system,” he said.
Executives said those efforts to improve overall quality will include culling a significant number of hotels they believe are not living up to brand standards. Greene said 10% to 15% of properties will be asked to leave the brand.
“We have thresholds that we expect the properties to have, and quite frankly, our best owners that have Radissons, they embrace all of those things … and they expect us to make sure that we enforce those standards and make sure there’s a tight consistency,” he said.
“The idea for us strategically is to do everything we possibly can. We value those relationships with owners, and we want to help be the push, pull, incentivize, whatever we can do to get properties to meet those expectations. But when they don’t, well, we’re only as good as our worst property, and they have to go.”
Radisson is focused on the growth of Radisson and Radisson Blu in U.S. markets, and González said there’s room for growth in markets around the world for each of the company’s eight brands.
There’s huge opportunity for the growth of Radisson in Europe, he said, because previously, Europe only had Radisson Blu properties.
Radisson Blu is a main focus for Radisson Hotel Group, Greene said, and the company has targeted 21 markets in places such as Canada, the U.S. and Latin America to “put Blus in,” he said, adding that most of the properties will be new-builds.
“It is critical for us to have those properties because they’re billboard properties, and that serves as a halo effect for all of our brands,” he said.
Back to basics
Another part of Radisson Hotel Group’s growth strategy is going back to the basics of having one brand for each segment, Greene said.
“When you look at the big hotel companies (30 years ago), they had one brand per segment,” he said. “Those properties were the distribution channel for the brand. When they maximize out a marketplace, then they acquire more brands and start adding brands, so now they’ve got multiple brands per segment.
“We’re going back to the roots of hospitality. We’re going back to having one brand per segment, that’s the way this business was founded.”
In the early days of the hospitality industry, owners put their “hard-earned capital” into the vision of the brand, Greene said.
“Those properties were built on the back of great owners that bought into the vision, and those owners … they truly had a voice at the table on how brands migrate and evolve,” he said. “Today, I think our great opportunity with all the consolidation that has gone on is really to get back to the roots of hospitality.”