Interview with Eric de Neef, Global Chief Commercial & Branding Officer, Radisson Hotel Group. He deciphers with Vanguélis Panayotis, CEO Hospitality ON, the future trends of our industry.

All the lights are green in our industry what about your portfolio?

The recovery is clearly led by leisure. The big unknow is quarter four. As of September, we will see a shift in segments, leisure will fade away and the big question mark is international travel. What about big international meetings, are they going to come back? We are optimistic, we are not any more in a survival mode, but in an aggressive recovery mode.

With staff shortage, it is complicated to produce the service. All the industry should try to find answers to that problem. What are your initiatives?

We are working a lot on the image of the company. We have just launched a recruitment campaign worldwide. We got more than 100,000 candidates.  We are leveraging technology. We just launched an instant recruitment platform. As a candidate, you just have to scan a QR code, and to fill in a short form. CVs and others are no longer needed to apply our jobs. It’s easier to connect with our targets.

How do you see Radisson Hotel group’s duty facing numerous troubles around the world?

The duty of care is high, for people, for our partners, for our customers. We need to be very close to them to understand them and take care of them and their families. It is not only the people who are working with us, but also the ecosystem around them that needs to be taken care of.

You are very interested in the new trends in distribution and the way we commercialise products and services, what will be the new trends to your point of view?

I am convinced that direct booking and direct business will surpass the indirect ones. My biggest partner is Google. We are working together on a daily basis, and I meet them every month. Technology will be key on this topic. The hospitality industry needs to keep of additional costs their core business, but to do this we need the technology companies.

I mean technology on several levels, commercial side, operational side and on the guest journey.

Today we are working a lot on reshaping the platforms we have. Platforms about loyalty, revenue management. We launched The Club, a totally dedicated company within the company.

Leveraging technology when it comes to forecasting, to price accuracy, to planning, to evaluate operation performance, to anticipation, is really useful. Technology also helps us facilitating the guest journey, it allows guest to book, modify, have their electronic key card.

We need to be relevant and answer our customer’s needs. If we don’t do that, we can’t engage with our customers.

The group recently split between two big markets

We made this announcement on June 13th. When one looks at Radisson’s growth since 2016, when we launched a 5-year plan, one sees tremendous success in Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia where we doubled the network. We had amazing financial achievements at EBITDA level that we never reached in the past, but the success in the Americas was not at the same level.

We made a review to assess what we needed to mirror to reach the same success in the Americas. We went through many strategic options and came to the conclusion that selling the business to Choice Hotels was the best alternative. There is a complementarity of segments, of geography. They are very strong in the US and less strong in other markets. They have the biggest network from an owner perspective. We think that with them, we will be able to mirror the success we had in other areas of the planet.

The Americas is the biggest outbound market in the world, the day that we have 200 Radisson Blues, 100 Radisson Collections and 100 Radisson REDs in the US, it will have a direct impact on our network.

That was the best approach to drive the business forward and to grow globally.

A win-win deal from the co-creation value point of view on both sides.

Every operator grows its portfolio do you think this trend will remain?

We are part of the Jin Jiang group and have access to 45 brands. On the APAC area we are going to grow the network of our hotel with Radisson and Jin Jiang and Louvre Hotel brands. We need to find the right brand matching the project. All these brands don’t need to be global. When we have launched Radisson Individuals 2 years ago, the Indian part of the group came to us and ask for the possibility to extend that brand to retreats. We have adapted Radisson Individuals to create Individuals Retreats which is only applicable for India.

How confident are you for the industry in the coming years?

People will keep travelling for many reasons family, leisure, discovery…. It is true that we will need to find different answers to the evolving needs of our customers. We are however definitely in a blessed industry.

Radisson Hotel Group

Radisson Hotel Group

Hotel Group

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