Radisson is choosing quality over quantity when it comes to growing its brands. The hotel group CEO Federico González sees the importance of focusing on strategic geographical expansions while tuning to changing customer demands and sustainability basics for hotels.
As Radisson Hotels Group continues to expand internationally through its existing brands, its strategy is to focus on service quality and consistency. For Federico González, CEO of the hotel group, having nine big global brands is better than chasing a mass of weak brands.
“I think establishing a brand, it’s not only a building, it’s not only the experience,” González told Skift founder and CEO Rafat Ali in a recent interview. “It’s everything that goes together with the experience when you are there, when you are not there. It’s the consistency of the experience and being, I think, very smart in trying to define in which property, which brand would fit.”
Radisson prides itself on Scandinavian hospitality design in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), focusing on a spirit of well-roundedness through consistent good service and design.
“Even if hotels would be different, you would have the same soul of service by the team. That is what I think created Radisson outside the U.S … that’s what made the difference,” González added.
Gonzalez comes from a consumer goods background, where he previously worked for Disneyland Paris and Proctor & Gamble. He led the NH Hotel Group before joining Radisson in 2017. In November 2018, Jin Jiang International Holdings, a Shanghai-based tourism powerhouse that manages Louvre Hotels, and SINO-CEEF, an investment fund from Shanghai, purchased a majority stake in the company. Radisson sold its Americas business to Choice Hotels International for $675 million in June 2022, but continues to manage operations in EMEA and Asia Pacific, hoping to double its portfolio by 2025.
Currently, Radisson operates 25 hotels and has 15 properties in development and holds 250 franchise agreements in China, which is viewed as a region of long-term investments. In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia holds great potential for Radisson Collection as the group continues to leverage its connections with customers, owners and the government.
Gondález spent 2017-2020 transforming key drivers of the company. “We redefined all the brands with the right experience, with the right construction cost, with the right brand inter-segmentation from luxury with Radisson Collection, Radisson Blu, Radisson RED, Park Plaza, Radisson, [and reintroduced] that,” he said. Park Inn and Prizeotel also followed and were incorporated for mid-scale.
The chain signed around 200 hotels in 2022 and launched smaller, leisure units for luxury retreats, Radisson Individual Retreats, in India. If the idea does well, it could possibly be expanded to other areas. With more demand for flexibility and reduced single-night stays, Radisson is also introducing a room conversion concept. “There is more uncertainty about how many meeting rooms you will sell versus bedrooms,” said Gondález. “That’s why we are actually converting rooms in many of the hotels we operate, where you can convert a meeting room into a bedroom.” The concept has already been deployed in some Radisson RED hotels in Madrid.
While forecasting is difficult, maintenance of occupancy is slightly higher on average across the world. Whether that will hold will depend on inflation and trends, but Gonzalez expects 2023 to be a good year compared to 2019.
Sustainability continues to be a key focus for Radisson. While the industry is slow in moving towards sustainability, Radisson is on the Hotel Sustainability Basics initiative with the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) to take the first steps in measuring damage and impact.
“How on earth can I drive a hotel to become sustainable if they don’t even measure what’s their consumption or what is their carbon footprint? That’s two of the steps that we need to put in place,” Gondález said. While consumers have yet to show signs of attention to this topic, González believes it is not because they don’t care, but because they cannot act on it.
“If we would all implement the basics, the consumer would have better knowledge. I think we need to try to move and hopefully, one day, every hotel I stay will have along with the price [and] what is the carbon that stay will produce,” said González.
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Photo credit: Radisson BLU hotel in Gothenburg, Sweden. Source: Wikimedia Commons Wikimedia Commons