HB ON THE SCENE: Radisson’s five-year plan ahead of target

LAS VEGAS—At its Americas Business Conference held here at Wynn Las Vegas in late February, Radisson Hotel Group reported that the repositioning it has undertaken as part of its five-year strategic plan is coming along well.

“Our repositioning effort is not only on target, it is actually ahead of target,” said Aly El-Bassuni, COO, Americas, Radisson Hotel Group, at the time. “That has been a pleasant surprise. It has been an amazing transformation. Just two years into our plan, 45% of our five-year plan is repositioned, and we are well on our way to turn the corner here and meet our goals for the five-year plan.”

El-Bassuni said that the repositioning effort across the Americas is core to the strategic plan. “With the investments that we are making across all facets of the business—IT, commercial, the loyalty platform—we are making investments in the hotels that we own and operate across our portfolios,” he said. “We have spent the last 2.5 years really mobilizing that effort with our franchise base as well.”

El-Bassuni pointed to the theme of the conference—embrace, engage, evolve—noting that the undertone of that relates to quality. “The last three [conferences]that we have been together have been important,” he said. “It is going to set the foundation for us to grow the business and for Kristen [Richter, SVP/chief commercial officer, Americas] and the commercial teams to go out and sell that to new customers and drive the business.”

The most notable change so far in the repositioning efforts of the strategic plan, according to El-Bassuni, is the culture that the company has installed with its owners and community, particularly on the franchise side. “We showed up as a management team and we said, ‘We are accessible, we are committed,’” he said. “We hold owners in high regard, and we see them as our customer—that’s our approach and the lens that we look through and how we administer everything we do. We do pilots, we do surveys. We work really hard to communicate better, clearly and more frequently. The engagement has come so far.”

He continued, “Before you begin to move RGI or RevPAR, you have to get buy-in. What has been most notable and most rewarding for me has been the connection that we have made with our customers and to show them they are the most important thing to us, and when they are successful, we are going to be successful.”

Kristen Richter, SVP, chief commercial officer, Americas, said that January was one of the best months in terms of RevPAR index and RGI improvement for Radisson in the Americas in its history.

That buy-in may already be paying off for the company as it reported a good start to 2020 on many fronts. “We are off to a good start,” said Richter at the time.. “We have this trifecta of goodness that is happening—all of the goodness that is happening in development, all of the goodness that is happening with quality and operations and all of the goodness that is happening with the commercial programs within the five-year plan. We are at an absolutely pivotal point where these three things are really coming together to absolutely change this company in the Americas. January for us was just a great way to start the year.”

Despite RevPAR flattening across the industry, El-Bassuni sees that his company’s brands have upside. “We are seeing properties with significant renovations and investments happening,” he said. “As they come out of that, we are seeing really strong upside. But in terms of how we are starting out 2020 in January, we picked up big chunks of RevPAR index. It was one of our best months in terms of RevPAR index and RGI improvement that the company has had since we started tracking that metric.”

Footprint expansion
As part of its successful beginning to the new year, the company used the conference last month to reveal the signing of five hotels set to join its Americas portfolio.

The Radisson Red Los Angeles Arts District will have 140 guestrooms, a fitness center, meeting space and a rooftop bar with views of downtown Los Angeles. Guests will have a farm-fresh menu at the brand’s signature restaurant, OUIBar + KTCHN. The hotel is anticipated to open Q1 2024.

The Radisson Red San Francisco Market Street will be the second for the city. The 120-room hotel will be part of a historic building on Market Street and will undergo a $14-million renovation. It is anticipated to open Q3 2021.

Radisson Red Nashville Arts District will be part of an existing commercial building, following an extensive renovation that includes adding six floors to construct the hotel and 120 guestrooms. The hotel will also have a speakeasy in the basement, a first for the Radisson Red brand. The hotel, which will be managed by Radisson Hotel Group, is anticipated to open in Q3 2021.

Radisson Hotel Long Island City will have 380 guestrooms and is anticipated to open in Q3 2020.

The newly signed Radisson Hotel Raleigh-Durham Airport will be the first new-build prototype hotel with the latest Radisson design. The hotel will have 140 guestrooms and extended-stay rooms, 1,600 sq. ft. of meeting space, on-site dining, a fitness center and an outdoor pool. The hotel is anticipated to open Q3 2021.

Reduced single-use plastics
Radisson Hotel Group revealed at the conference that it will implement bulk amenity dispensers across all brands by the beginning of 2022, replacing small bottles for common bathroom products.

This action will remove 57 million miniature amenities from circulation, avoiding the use of almost 500 tons of plastic annually.

Nicolas Tiziou, director, responsible business, Americas, Radisson Hotel Group, said at the conference that the company is also working to reduce the use of plastic waters bottles in the Americas as well. “We have made a great effort to reduce single-use plastics,” he said. “Plastic bottles are of key concern. Right now, we are running pilot programs and there is an array of options and solutions. One of them is filtered water. We are working on solutions that make sense.”

In addition, Radisson Hotel Group has a global commitment to #refusethestraw, ensuring plastic straws and plastic stirrers are no longer used in its hotels by 2021 and eco-friendly alternatives will be offered to guests upon request.

In addition to the rollout of the bulk dispensers, Radisson Hotel Group is unveiling a waste collection and recycling program of the new containers and soaps in North America. Beyond diverting waste from polluting both lands and oceans, this will benefit communities: Soap and bulk amenities will be sorted, processed and distributed to people in need, according to the company.

In addition to making Radisson Meetings 100% carbon neutral, the group is constantly striving to phase out single-use plastics in meetings and events across its portfolio and has already achieved this in more than 200 of its hotels, with the aim to roll out this initiative to other properties. HB

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