Radisson Hotel Group has launched its new Radisson Individuals brand to appeal to independent properties that want the backing and reach of a big brand without having to change their identity and has two UK properties already signed up.
Independent hotels will be able to keep their name under the soft brand while benefiting from Radisson's operating systems and distribution channels. Membership will see a plaque installed on properties saying ‘member of Radisson Individuals' and require staff to go through Radisson's training programme.
The criteria hotels must meet to be eligible to join the brand include quality scores of at least 80%, fire and health and safety compliance, the ability to connect into Radisson's IT systems, and to make use of the 20-step coronavirus cleaning and safety protocol Radisson and SGS have designed in partnership.
Pat Cussen, regional director UK & Ireland, Radisson Hotel Group, said: "It's very exciting for us because we're hopefully going to be in a position to sign up a lot of new hotels in new markets that we don't currently have presence, or that we have room for growing more presence."
The group is targeting boutique upscale properties and has already built a pipeline. Cussen said Radisson is, for example, exploring small resort or village hotels.
He said: "I think everybody has to diversify and change the way we do things. I hate to use the phrase but there is a new normal and we haven't fully realised what that is yet because it's ever-changing at the moment, but we certainly want to take an opportunity to spread the reach of the brand. This gives us that opportunity. We've seen that recovery has happened more quickly in those resort areas or leisure market destinations."
The group is nearly four years into its five-year plan, and Cussen said the impact of Covid has not paused its aspirations. The group's targets included becoming one of the three ‘top of mind' hotel groups and following its acquisition by Chinese state-owned tourism and hospitality company Jin Jiang International in 2018, Cussen feels this is already a reality.
He added: "I suppose like everybody else we've hit a bit of a bump in the road in terms of performance of individual and the groups of hotels, but we're working hard to restructure the business so that we can limit the damage that we're all experiencing as a result of Covid and set us up to take full advantage of the recovery when it comes. Like everything else, this too will end and we'll get back to whatever that new normal looks like, and we really want to be well-placed to take advantage of the recovery when it starts."
He said the group is "still in a pretty good place" despite the continuing impact of Covid on the UK's hospitality and tourism landscape, however the recovery is being made "a little bit more difficult" by regularly changing restrictions.
He added: "Nobody is saying this is an easy task for any governments to manage, it is difficult however when the goalposts change as regularly as they are and with as little notice as they are, because obviously we need to adjust what we're doing and amend the services that we're offering to suit those new regulations."
According to Cussen, the group has not had to exit any properties, but there have been redundancies.
He added: "I'm very hopeful that the people we've had to separate from, we'll be in a position to take them back once business starts bouncing back… once things start to recover we're going to need those people back and they will be the first people we will call when we have the opportunity to do so."
Radisson Hotel Group has 70 hotels in the UK and Ireland with around 800-1,000 rooms in the pipeline, and 8,000 properties globally.
The two hotels signed up for Radisson Individuals are among 10 across Europe the Middle East and Asia to commit to joining the group in Q3 2020.
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