Going beyond Blu, Radisson is transforming its brand
When 600 Radisson Hotel franchisees and executives from across the country gather in?Bloomington?later this month, the message from the Carlson leadership that oversees the 52-year-old chain is expected to be distinctly upbeat.
They will learn that:
? Three-fourths of the chain?s 155 properties have been refurbished and remodeled as part of a $1 billion makeover; the remaining hotels will be done by next year.
? Membership in the hotel?s loyalty program, called Club Carlson, is at 12 million, up from 9 million less than two years ago.
? Occupancy rates are higher.
? Customer satisfaction is up.
? And 22 percent of the chain?s underperforming inventory is out of the system.
?We?re a little bit smaller than we were in 2009 but a much better brand,? said Javier Rosenberg, the chief operating officer of Radisson?s North America division, which is a unit of?Minnetonka-based Carlson. ?The economy is back, and the industry is noticing our improvements.?
The Radisson conference, which begins Feb. 18, will be held at the Radisson Blu at the Mall of America. The $137 million property, which opened last year, represents the ultimate in Radisson luxury.
Despite those positive trends, the Radisson brand has significant challenges.
The latest ranking by J.D. Power and Associates puts Radisson at eighth among hotels in the ?upscale? category in which it competes, up from 11th last year. Radisson still lags behind industry giants Hyatt, Hilton and Sheraton in terms of name recognition and customer satisfaction.
Industry experts also note that Radisson?s national presence is thin in many important markets and that the chain lacks both resort-type and signature properties that can serve as loyalty program rewards.
?They?re trying to get ahead among travelers and developers, but they don?t seem to pass anybody,? said Kirby Payne, president of HVS Hotel Management, a management consulting company founded in Minnesota and now based in Rhode Island. ?If you go to Houston, Radisson is way down the list of hotels [sought by consumers]. Same thing in Seattle.?
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