With 226,473 rooms worldwide and seven distinctive hotel brands, Radisson Hotel Group is accelerating its strategy in key markets across the region
Radisson Hotel Group is a leading hospitality company serving as a true host and best partner to guests, owners, business partners and talent.
Ramsay Rankoussi, vice president – development, Middle East, Turkey and French-speaking Africa; and Elie Milky, vice president – development, Middle East, Pakistan, Greece and Cyprus for the hotelier, share their future plans.
How long have you been working together and how do you complement each other?
Ramsay Rankoussi and Elie Milky: We have been working as a team for over five years now and are together responsible for the company’s strategic growth across the Middle East, Pakistan, North Africa, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. Tasked with increasing the group’s regional hotel portfolio and footprint, we have successfully led over 75 hotel transactions representing an excess of 15,000 hotel rooms in those specific markets and contributing to the largest growth for the group overall.
Our individual strength lies in our complementary market knowledge and also in the focus we each bring in establishing strategic relationships with our partners and various stakeholders.
Radisson Hotel Group has recently gone through many changes, can you tell us more about it?
Rankoussi: The group has gone through a real transformation over the last few years and is today positioned to become one of the leading hotel companies in the world. Indeed, in 2017, our senior management has put in place a five-year plan called ‘Destination 2022’ and we are all contributing to its execution as regional leaders.
A big part of the plan relates to our expansion which we directly take responsibility for, but growth can only be accelerated with the adequate tools and resources. Based on our ambitions, the group has heavily invested in a new backbone infrastructure from IT systems to a new procurement platform, further translating savings and benefits to our partners.
Our focus on online distribution has been met with a brand-new website covering all our brands and providing a wider reach to millions of users and future guests. Earlier in 2019 our group also changed its ownership and from a publicly listed entity, we have now become fully privatised, allowing us much more speed of reaction and flexibility in offering the best solutions to our hotels, partners and owners.
Our new shareholder has brought further synergies and economies of scale and we certainly look at working closer in how we unlock more value to all our stakeholders through newer initiatives and wider collaboration while continuing the execution of our original five-year plan.
What are your key priorities for the upcoming year?
Milky: Given the market dynamics in the region, we foresee the biggest opportunities to be conversions and take-overs mainly in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
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 existing hotel owners look at ways of improving their returns and Radisson has always established itself as a solid partner.
We also have key hotels that are due to open next year as we continue to mobilise all our resources to ensure timely execution while also providing the adequate support so that every hotel opens in the best market conditions.
What were your key achievements in 2019 for the region?
Milky: We have accelerated our critical mass strategy in key markets across the region, especially in key capital cities in which we operate.
The aim is to translate our presence into operational efficiencies through clustering opportunities and economies of scale. Our growth journey is interlinked with that critical mass strategy.
We have already witnessed the benefits of such a strategy through the overall performance of our hotels in the region demonstrating year-on-year growth in market share and profitability despite the recent difficult market conditions.
What do you expect from 2020 in the Middle East and what are your focuses?
Rankoussi: Conversions will remain our priority and we have created the relevant tools and brands to quickly respond to take-over opportunities while ensuring a smooth transition without disruption.
The overall economic slowdown in the region and the recent pressure on daily hotel rates will create further conversion opportunities as owners seek trusted hotel operators.
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.
The focus will continue to be on our upscale Radisson brand as well as our lifestyle Radisson RED and our premium Radisson Collection for iconic properties, while leveraging on the established Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson brands.
If all goes well, where do you see business going in the next five years? The next decade?
Rankoussi and Milky: We have stated a clear ambition to become one of the most favoured hotel companies and preferred choice for our guests, employees and investors. As such, we remain confident that the execution of our five-year plan will continue to deliver results for our shareholders, create memorable moments for our guests and also provide the employment opportunities for our associates.
Looking beyond, we expect further acceleration in our growth not only organically but potentially through new ventures and strategic alliances. The great support and commitment of our new shareholder should also represent a positive momentum for our group to leverage on and further gain traction at all levels – commercially, financially and also in brand awareness and competitiveness.
The shift in consumer behaviour would provide greater opportunities for our serviced apartments offerings but would also require more personalized experiences which we have already captured through the launch of our lifestyle Radisson RED brand and our premium Radisson Collection brand, which aims at capturing individual and authentic hotel stays.
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