March 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Newsline newsline.gif (8042 bytes)   HOTEL CHAIN FINDS HAVING FEWER FRANCHISES IS KEY TO A BETTER BRAND
Radisson to Focus on Meetings Business
Looking ahead: Brian Stage of Radisson Hotels Worldwide By working to retool its brand image, Radisson Hotels Worldwide hopes to increase its meetings business from 25 percent to 40 percent. Radisson’s vice president of sales and marketing, Brian Stage, recently spoke with M&C about the future direction of the Minneapolis-based chain.

What changes are taking place at Radisson?

We are looking at building our reputation. We want our brand to be well understood, reliable and true to its promise. I don’t think we had that in the past.

Reputation is a big factor in the meetings business. If planners like one property, they will be willing to try another [in the chain]. When you don’t deliver on their expectations, you lose their loyalty to the brand.

Has brand reputation been a problem?

Customers who didn’t know us weren’t sure what we were about. Our hotels were so different in location and in what they offered.

Now, we are moving toward new acquisitions and away from franchising. We have had to say goodbye to a lot of hotels that were with us for a long time. We will pare 30 hotels from our portfolio in 2002. It’s an exciting time but also quite painful.

What is your long-term goal?

To have 50 percent of our inventory be either owned or managed by 2006.

What operational changes are taking place to achieve brand consistency?

We are concentrating on employee training. We also are looking at strengthening our direct booking system. Six months ago we unveiled direct bookings for meeting groups through our Web site. In addition, we are going to spend a lot of time identifying loyal customers so we can build customer relationships.

Are you going to create a point system to attract meeting planners?

We have had a point system for years. Frankly, the planners we have talked to don’t consider it important. Our biggest selling point is our 100 percent guest-satisfaction guarantee. We are going to make it our focal point when selling to groups.

In what locations would you like to see the Radisson flag?

Our goal is to place Radisson in first- and second-tier cities, where the bulk of the meetings business is. I’d like to see us have a greater presence in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and, of course, New York City.

Last July, we took over big properties in Baltimore and Philadelphia. There will be some new construction, like in Myrtle Beach, S.C., which will open in 2003. Primarily, though, our growth will take place through acquisition.


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