In the post-COVID world of hospitality technology continues to take on an increasingly important role, particularly for Radisson Hotel Group, which is leveraging its current platform to enhance communication with its franchise partners.
With the vast majority of its U.S. portfolio franchised, the Minneapolis-based company—which includes more than 1,400 hotels globally within its 7 brands—has made a top priority of providing relief to franchisees and helping them navigate the Coronavirus pandemic successfully.
Aly El-Bassuni, COO, Radisson Hotel Group, discussed with Hotel Interactive the company’s three-pronged approach and reliance on technology to get its message across.
“We’ve had to innovate. As a team we’ve had to go to a nearly 100 percent virtual environment. We’ve focused on three key areas: one is around providing COVID-19 related resources; training has also been a part; and the third [area] has really been around providing and delivering cost reductions and cost forbearance to our owners,” he said.
As an example of the technology platforms, El-Bassuni pointed out that the company has adopted on online training platform to on-board new personnel ranging from owners and general managers to sales associates and “integrate them into Radisson.”
Meanwhile, El-Bassuni added that for existing associates Radisson has created a webinar series as a means of communicating. He noted the company has completed almost 30 to date over the past three months. “We’ve had over 3,000 attendees covering everything from COVID-19 training to revenue, sales, channeling the existing demand that’s out there, and working with key accounts and partners. So we’ve been very active and remained really vigilant with the level of communication. Really keeping that line of communication open with our owners and franchisees has been key and that’s been our focus over the last 90 days,” he said.
El-Bassuni—who noted that a good portion of the company’s U.S. hotels that were closed have reopened—agreed with the widely held notion that drive-to markets should be the first to bounce back, which he sees as a positive development for Radisson Hotel Group.
“The recovery right now seems to favor secondary and tertiary markets. It tends to skew more towards leisure travel and the sentiment that ‘I will drive to my next destination versus flying’ and that really favors all of our brands,” he said.
El-Bassuni further explained, “it does favor the select-service in those mid, upper-midscale segments which tend to have that footprint in those secondary and tertiary markets.”
From a macro-industry perspective, El-Bassuni noted he’s seen lot of different projections, including a v-shaped recovery, w-shaped recovery or even a “Nike Swoosh.”
He went on to add a description of his own. “We’re looking at more of a stair step where we are seeing gradual incremental gains. They’re moderate and not significant right now, but they are in line with the market and what we’re observing. We began to see some weekend pickup in May, coming into June now as schools are coming out of session, full summer breaks are kicking in we’re beginning to see that implemental growth in occupancy and demand,” he said.
Nevertheless, El-Bassuni acknowledged patience will be needed when discussing the prospects from a long-term perspective. “Everything I’m seeing suggests that it’s potentially as much as two years before we regain pre-COVID demand, but it could be as long as three years or more before it’s pre-COVID RevPAR,” he noted.