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Tue 24 Dec 2019 12:15 PM

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The best-laid plans: Radisson Hotel Group

With Radisson Hotel Group set to accelerate its regional growth in 2020, its team is focusing on establishing a stringently thought-out plan to ensure continued success

The best-laid plans: Radisson Hotel Group

As one of the world’s leading hospitality chains, the Radisson Hotel Group has been expanding its reach across key markets as it diversifies its presence with the launch of new brands. Well on the way to reaching “Destination 2022,” a five-year plan established in 2017, regional leaders, including Vice President (Middle East, Turkey & French Speaking Africa) Ramsay Rankoussi and Vice President (Middle East, Pakistan, Greece and Cyprus) Elie Milky, are key to achieving this goal.

Both have been responsible for the company’s strategic growth. Tasked with increasing the group’s regional hotel portfolio, the two have led over 75 hotel transactions representing an excess of 15,000 hotel rooms in those markets and contributed to the group’s largest area of growth overall.

Given the region’s dynamics, the group foresees its biggest opportunities to be conversions and take-overs, in particular in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE. Rankoussi and Milky believe that the overall economic slowdown in the region and the recent pressure on hotel rates will create further conversion opportunities as owners seek trusted hotel operators.

“Historically, our group has been known for repositioning existing hotels under one of our brands and we believe we can continue to replicate the same success as owners look at ways of improving their returns,” says Milky. He added, “with the overall instability of the economy in the region, hotel owners are looking for custom solutions offered by trusted operators. And we are offering just that.”

Both emphasise that a key area of focus moving forward will be on the upscale Radisson brand as well as the lifestyle offering, Radisson RED, and the premium Radisson Collection, while continuing to leverage the established Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson brands.

In fact, the group will introduce two new brands into its MENA portfolio this year.

The upcoming launch of Radisson RED at Dubai Silicon Oasis is expected  to open in the first quarter of 2020.

In the second quarter, a Radisson beach resort will open its doors in Ras Al Khaimah.

“What’s important to our investment partners is that we’ve reviewed our brand offering and have created a clean and simple brand architecture from midscale to luxury, and from resorts to business hotels, while also offering serviced apartments solutions. Our technical team has produced comprehensive brand guidelines allowing us to further accelerate the speed of construction, and minimize overall time to build,” notes Rankoussi. He adds, “We’ve also considerably reduced the cost of development of each brand, making us competitive and adding value to our investors.”

Expo 2020 offers another opportunity to expand brand reach with the expected tourism boom and an anticipated footfall of about 25 million over a six-month period.

And with Saudi Arabia continuing its efforts to diversify its economy beyond oil under its Vision 2030 plan, the demand for leisure activities is also expected to climb in the Kingdom. “As we also approach Expo 2020, we expect a positive ramp-up in Dubai while Vision 2030 for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will further fuel demand on the leisure segment, domestically and internationally,” Rankoussi says.

With over 90 hotels in operation or under construction for the Middle East and North Africa region, Milky notes that the group is more than ready to cross the 100-hotel symbolic mark during 2020. “We expect to be adding significantly to these numbers in the coming years with an ambition to exceed 150 hotels by 2024,” he adds.

Some of these new properties include new Park Inn by Radisson locations in Jeddah and Riyadh, scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2020. The Radisson Resort Ras Al Khaimah and Radisson Hotel Dubai’s Damac Hills are expected to launch in the second quarter.

Finally, Mansard Riyadh, a Radisson Collection Hotel and Residences, is set to open doors in the third quarter.

Of course, Radisson Hotel Group is also looking beyond the Middle East. Rankoussi and Milky have succeeded in replicating their expansion triumphs in other regions within their mandate as well. In Turkey, Istanbul welcomed Radisson Residences and a new Radisson Blu at Vadistanbul Mall and another Radisson Residences at Avrupa Tem, which is located close to the airport.

Industrial and automotive hub Sakarya also saw the opening of a Radisson Blu.

In the northwest city of Bursa, a Radisson Hotel will launch at the end of 2020, taking the group closer to its goal of operating 50 hotels in the next five years.

Similarly, in North Africa, the Radisson Blu made its Algerian debut, while also announcing its entry into Tunis with two hotels under construction in 2019. The company also brokered a portfolio deal for six hotels in Egypt, which include Radisson Collection Hotel Cairo Heliopolis, Radisson Blu Serviced Apartments Cairo Heliopolis, Radisson Blu Hotel Cairo Golf City, Radisson Hotel New Cairo, Radisson Hotel & Resort Ain Sokhna and Radisson Blu Hotel & Resort Makadi Bay, Hurghada.

A multi-hotel deal was also struck in elsewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean, where six hotels and almost 1,000 rooms will be added to the group’s portfolio in Cyprus by 2025.

Rankoussi notes that, “Our strength lies in our complementary market knowledge,” while Milky appreciates “the focus we each bring in establishing strategic relationships with our partners and various stakeholders.”

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