Carlson is revamping its Radisson Hotels & Resorts brand in North America and increasing its international pipeline for the Park Inns & Suites brand, according to president and CEO Hubert Joly.
“We are going through this major downturn, but Carlson is still a vibrant company,” said Joly. “We are beginning to see many signs of a bottom--the occupancy rates are stabilizing, average daily rates are still an issue, but I think there is light at the end of that tunnel.”
Since the beginning of 2009, Carlson opened 73 hotels, signed 50 new hotels and contracted 250 hotels globally. In North America, where two-thirds of Carlson’s hotels exist, its Radisson brand will undergo brand design standards, which is a first for North American Radisson properties, according to Joly. The properties will have universal layouts; room plans; and will continue to offer free Internet access in rooms.
“This is a very important project for us to revitalize, reposition, reinvent this brand crystallizing the best practices of Radisson internationally and coming up with something that meets the needs of the consumers of today,” said Joly. “With good aesthetics and a contemporary design for the first time in the U.S.”
The plans are expected to be in full swing by 2010 and Joly assures that franchisees and owners will not be asked to “spend a billion dollars that we don’t have.”
“There will be a strong focus on the lobby and making it a very pleasurable experience; a strong focus on convenience and providing a caring experience for the guest,” Joly continued.
As popularity grows for Park Inns & Suites internationally, Joly expects the international properties to increase. Park Inns & Suites recently won the J.D. Power and Associates award for best midscale hotel brand in Europe—jumping from number 16 on the list to number one—and Joly said Carlson will add 50 more properties to its existing 100 in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
“Park Inns will have a special place outside of Europe as the opportunity to grow the brand in U.S. [emerges], but there is a strong emphasis internationally,” said Joly.