Radisson Hotel Group is one of the world’s largest and most dynamic hotel groups, and its long-term vision is to be the company of choice for guests, owners, investors and talent. Here, RLI sits down with Elie Younes, Executive Vice President to discuss the last 12 months and what the future holds.
Radisson Hotel Group strives to make Every Moment Matter by being a true host and best partner. They provide meaningful, delightful and inspiring experiences for its guests and insightful and responsive client support for hotel owners. The Group has more than 75 years of hospitality experience, and with this experience they have grown to become one of the largest hotel companies in the world, with a powerful set of brands that deliver world class hospitality and exceptional service. “We currently have around 500 hotels in the overall portfolio and they are situated across eighty countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa,” explains Elie Younes, Executive Vice President at Radisson Hotel Group. “Within the portfolio there is a very good balance, as 50 per cent of the portfolio is in emerging markets such as Africa, the Middle East and Russia, whilst the other 50 per cent is in mature markets like the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Scandinavia,” says Younes.
The past year has been a transformative one for the company; they launched new brand architecture and changed the company name to Radisson Hotel Group, to leverage on the Radisson name and the fact that Radisson Blu is one of the largest upscale brands in Europe. Financially, the last 12 months were also the best they have seen, and they utilised this in signing around 40 new hotels, with many of these situated in key gateway cities in Europe such as Madrid, Liverpool, Rome, Milan and Vienna. Looking forward, Younes wants the next 12 months to continue this transformation, and accelerate growth with further expansion and the unlocking of four gateway cities such as Paris, London., Dubai and Munich. This year will see the company open hotels in Moscow, Rome, Prague, Dubai and Casablanca.
“We currently have around 500 hotels in the overall portfolio and they are situated across eighty countries in Europe, The Middle East and Africa”
Younes also mentions a city he would very much like the brand to be in within the near future – Barcelona, as it is the largest city in Europe in which they do not currently have a presence. When looking for new properties, two key factors come into play. The first one is the location and the second one is the quality of partnerships that will exist for several years, these are of pivotal importance when selecting new properties so that there a good working relationship between partners. So how does the company ensure its properties remain attractive and exciting? “The world moves very fast, and this is a key challenge we and everyone else faces in this industry. So we have to continuously refresh our offering, reinvent ourselves and ultimately, invest. To give you an idea, in the last three years we have invested around €300M in around 50 of our key hotels that we want to showcase,” explains Younes.
According to Younes, the key reasons behind the company’s success is its attitude, the behaviour of the company and the people within it, who are more humble, pragmatic, relationship driven and solution driven. This attitude has been maintained whilst the company has grown in the years that he has been working for the company. Discussing the increasing importance of e-commerce and channels such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, Younes says that the company has recently been reviewing its market expenditure, and this has highlighted just how much the distribution has shifted in the last few years.
“If you look at how much we were spending five years ago on labour, on paying people to go and sell the brands, to those e-commerce and emerging distribution channels there has been a huge shift.” Alongside this, the company is spending millions on its new website which is due to launch in two or three months, which has been designed to capture the increasing e-commerce traffic. The company is all about making every moment matter, this is the ethos and the heart of Radisson Hotel Group. The idea is to make every moment matter to three groups of people, its guests, its owners and its people; it is the core of the business and can be seen on every business card and in every presentation they produce.
So what lies ahead and what challenges face the company moving forward? “The first is the nature of the environment that we live in today; you need to be nimble to create the best environment. The other challenge is talent – attracting and retaining the right people, which is a challenge we all face. A new shareholder enables us to be part of the second largest conglomerate in the world, and one of the largest loyalty programs which has 120 million members. If we can tap into this there could be a very interesting opportunity in the Chinese market, one of the most exciting in the world, which could be transformative for our brand moving forward,”