Carlson Rezidor touts progress, especially for Radisson Blu

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, which is based in Minneapolis and Brussels, reported “strong momentum” for its hotels during its annual business conference, placing particular emphasis on the Radisson Blu brand, which it is aiming to grow globally.

During 2012, the group added 33 Radisson Blu properties, bringing the portfolio to 272. This year it expects to add 21 Radisson Blu hotels, including the brand’s second U.S. opening at Minnesota’s Mall of America. Carlson Rezidor also announced during the conference that the Radisson Plaza – Warwick Hotel Philadelphia will become a Radisson Blu by late this summer. The 301-room Rittenhouse Square property will remain open during a US$17 million renovation prior to the conversion.

Another high priority for Carlson Rezidor has been repositioning its Radisson brand by improving its physical product. The company reported 50% of the brand’s properties have completed renovations, with 75% expected to do so by the end of 2013. The group also announced that beginning in March and extending through summer, Radisson will launch a pilot project across four U.S. hotels to establish a new mobile and online check-in option; launch the Radisson iConcierge, an on-property concierge smartphone application; and debut an in-hotel charity program. Using data collected during the pilot period, Radisson will roll out a final program of brand elements across all hotels beginning in fall 2013 with completion no later than the end of 2014.

The strategies are all part of the group’s Ambition 2015 strategy, which calls for Carlson Rezidor to have 1,500 hotels by 2015. The company ended 2012 with a portfolio of 1,077 hotels, and the global portfolio currently includes 1,305 properties either in operation or under development.

Thorsten Kirschke, president, Americas, said during the conference that the group is “well on track” with its Ambition 2015 goals. However, he also cautioned, “It’s not all milk and honey out there. The economy is still very fragile. While there are pockets of growth, mostly in city centers, we have to be careful not to get ahead of ourselves. By no means are we out of the woods yet. Our responsibility is to make sure we stay focused.”