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Country Inns & Suites: A Bold New Look ■ Radisson Reimagined for Today ■ Increase Hotel Revenue Now

Go Local, Grow Sales

The Magazine for the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group








At Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, we’re always thinking about the future and how we can take ourselves to the next level. Our annual business conferences are a time to plan the path forward while saluting the previous year’s success. And what a year it was! In reflection of this special time, our annual conference issue of Hotline The Americas takes an in-depth look at our recent 2013 conferences, the Full Service Brands Business Conference and the Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM Business Conference. Full of inspiration and practical advice, the conferences aimed to help hotels and employees improve their performance across the board, and Hotline is here to bring you all of the highlights. And just like at the conferences, we’re offering best practices and tips, which are bolded throughout the issue for quick takeaways.

We kick things off by highlighting the progress we have made over the last three years, with a sneak peek at where we are heading next: Thorsten Kirschke, president, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, addresses the company’s latest successes in his article on page 6. From there, we concentrate on helping all brands get the most out of their revenue toolboxes with our section on Commercial Strategy, beginning on page 12. Finally, we drill down into the details of what Carlson Rezidor Business School classes shared with attendees in sections that focus on the highlights of both conferences—no matter which brand you work for, you will find advice that applies! Carlson Rezidor is thrilled to share some exciting branding news for both Radisson® and Country Inns & Suites. For Radisson, we’re introducing new brand elements that will appeal to today’s modern traveler. Likewise, Country Inns & Suites has collaborated with a special celebrity partner to share its new look. Learn who on page 75. We are also excited about the opening of our second Radisson Blu in the U.S. at the Mall of America®, in Bloomington, Minn. The first and only hotel connected to the mall, the Radisson Blu Mall of America joins the phenomenally successful Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago. Learn all the details about this mesmerizing upper-upscale property on page 52. In other conference highlights, we saw Marilyn Carlson Nelson turn the board chair reins over to daughter Diana Nelson and learned about leadership in a keynote address by Trudy Rautio, president and chief executive officer, Carlson. Last, but not least, a hearty thanks to Kris Hanousek, senior director, Meetings and Events, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, and her team, for their stellar efforts to bring the two brand conferences to life. I don’t know about you, but I am more excited than ever to keep meeting, and exceeding, the goals we’ve set through Ambition 2015. As we think about tomorrow, we know that the future always brings change along with inspiration, and Hotline is no exception. With the next issue, we’ll be ushering in a new era of the magazine that features a fresh, global focus. Stay tuned for details!

Molly Biwer Vice President, Communications and Public Relations, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group 2 0 1 3 | TH E C ON FEREN C E IS S U E


CONFERENCE CHATTER The Magazine for the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

The Americas

New generation of Country Inns & Suites will rely on social media. More soon!

Publisher Thorsten Kirschke, President, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group Editor-in-Chief Molly Biwer, Vice President, Communications and Public Relations, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group Managing Editor Deborah M. Bernstein, Director, Internal Communications, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

Goodnight Fontainebleau! A fantastic conference comes to a close. I love our Country!

Supporting Editor Susan Ryan, Manager, Internal Communications, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group Contributors Marie Barr; Brandy Brinson; Michael Brothers; Wendy Carlson; Judy Colbert; Spencer Collins; Josue Evilla; Freed Photography; Josh Grubbs; Jeff Johnson and Kyle Smith; David Jones; Erica Katz; Carmen Kidd; Betty Mack; Julie Moline; Zoe Murphy; Jennifer Pellet; RADIO; Rocky Salskov; James Steinberg Suggestions and Advertising Please contact Molly Biwer, Vice President, Communications and Public Relations, and Editor-in-Chief, Hotline The Americas, +1 (763) 212-2901 Hotline The Americas serves as the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s magazine for the Americas. Hotline The Americas is distributed to Carlson Rezidor employees, Carlson’s board of directors, hotel owners and developers, general managers, strategic partners, key clients and other stakeholders.

Spread the love! Check out the fresh look of Radisson!

Production and the Environment Hotline The Americas is printed with a satin UV coating. UV (ultraviolet) coatings do not emit volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere. They are compatible with standard de-inking processes for recycling of paper. © 2013 Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. All rights reserved. Hotline The Americas by the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. 701 Carlson Parkway, Minnetonka, Minnesota, 55305. Copyright Notice | None of the information provided in this publication may be used, reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including recording or the use of any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission from the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. Disclaimer | The information contained in Hotline The Americas is not a franchise sales offering. Part of the information presented in Hotline The Americas reflects data and information provided to the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group by hotels operating under Carlson Rezidor brands, which may be independently owned and operated. While the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group makes every effort to provide accurate and complete information, various data may change prior to publication. Carlson Rezidor provides no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of furnished data. For the most up-to-date information on the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, please visit


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We are only as good as our weakest link, and human interaction has never been more precious.

Carlson’s Suzy Riesterer: There are significant revenue opportunities for you in 2013.


Twice as many members are now enjoying more points, more partners, more places, plus enhanced privileges and services, at more than 1,000 Carlson Rezidor hotels worldwide.

Club Carlson has doubled in size over the past 3 years

Club Carlson is over 10 million members strong

Club Carlson has doubled redemption and earn partners in the past 3 years

Club Carlson is powerfully building loyalty. That’s great news for our hotels, for our employees, for our members, and for our guests.

Terms and conditions apply. Š 2013 Carlson Hotels, Inc and U.S. Bank. All rights reserved. The creditor and issuer of this card is U.S. Bank National Association ND, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc.

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Forward with Focus | Looking ahead as Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group moves forward on its incredible journey of transformation // 06 Stepping Up | A new chairman, Diana Nelson, prepares to continue a family legacy of service // 10 Opportunity Knocking | Carlson Rezidor’s Revenue Generation team works to boost hotels’ top lines // 12 Positioned to Win | How Radisson® is continuing its path to success, and what work remains to be done // 28 Future Vision Now | An interview with Gordon McKinnon on Radisson’s “14 for ‘14” program // 32 Stacking Up | Food and Beverage can drive revenues and improve a hotel’s position with the latest menu strategies // 38 Service Analytics | Assessing performance is easier than ever, with QPR and Medallia data // 40 Strategic Moves | Learn more about the three ways to improve operational efficiency // 42 Advancing, Enhancing | Park Inn by Radisson is growing stronger with targeted expansions // 44 Full Service Honors | Radisson and Park Inn by Radisson honor their 2012 award winners // 46 Final Fete | A look back at the highlights of the full service awards gala // 48 Top Performers | Carlson Rezidor puts the spotlight on the best of the best in full service for 2012 // 50 Modern Decadence | Unveiled to much fanfare, the Radisson Blu Mall of America is the newest jewel in Carlson Rezidor’s crown // 52 Natural Flare | The FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar offers a taste of place // 60


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Proud to be Country | An interview with Scott Meyer on the Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM priority list // 68 What’s Next | An exciting new brand identity for Country Inns & Suites points the way to the future // 72 Leading with Courage | Trudy Rautio on how people plus performance drive organizational results // 80 Generation Next | Four generations are now in the workforce, each with different perspectives and strengths // 82 Team Works

| New Be Our Guest sessions for 2013 continue to inspire a spirit of service // 84

Energy Aware | There are savings to be had when hotels promote efficiencies // 86 To the Max | Working in partnership with the brand can boost hotels’ guest satisfaction and ROI // 88 Sales Force | Staying connected in your community is a surefire way to build sales // 90 Upper-Midscale Honors | Country Inns & Suites By Carlson honors its 2012 award winners // 92 Gala Affair | The Upper-Midscale Gala capped off a conference full of exciting events // 94 Suite Success | A closer look at Country Inns & Suites’ top-performing hotels and employees for 2012 // 96 New Horizons | Rallying to drive results at The Rezidor Hotel Group’s Business Conference // 98 Hotline News Plus | Stories, accolades and achievements from Carlson Rezidor hotels in the Americas // 100 Cover | At the mid-term of Ambition 2015, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group stays on target to deliver the vision.

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uring my keynote presentations at this year’s Full Service and Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM Business Conferences, I shared my thoughts reflecting on our progress at the mid-term of our Ambition 2015 strategy and our priorities for the year ahead. I feel genuinely humbled to be a part of this incredible journey of transformation, which has been driven by the long-held values of this company. We take this business personally—while Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group is a large, global company, we are determined to treat each and every hotel, guest, employee and partner with respect. I was very excited to see the overwhelming engagement at both conferences. The separate-conference format this year was timely, allowing us to drill down into actionable strategies that will help our hotels to reach the next level. Thank you to everyone who participated! Due to its success, Carlson Rezidor will repeat this model in 2014. We have come a long way, but we must remember that we still face a fragile global economy. Although we see pockets of improvement around the world, we must stay laser-focused on the task at hand. You will see much more in this issue of Hotline, but let me provide a few Ambition 2015 half-term highlights and where we are going next. 


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This Page: At its full service conference, the company announced the development of three hotels in the Caribbean and one opening in Central America. Opposite Page, Bottom: Kirschke with Scott Meyer, senior vice president, Midscale Brands, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group.


Since we announced our Ambition 2015 strategy, we have launched some amazing revenue programs, with fantastic results to match. In loyalty, we have already doubled Club CarlsonSM membership from 2010, nearly a year ahead of our scheduled goal. The Club Carlson U.S. Bank Visa credit card program, launched last year, is also off to a strong start: Cardmember accounts to date are already nearly triple the number expected! We’ve seen a striking 50 percent growth in global Web revenue since the development of the online strategy three years ago. Investments in our mobile platform enabled Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group to double mobile revenue in 2012. Stay Night Automated Pricing (SNAP) was rolled out globally in 2011. By the end of 2012, 85 percent of hotels worldwide were using the SNAP tool. In the next year, we will continue improving our online platforms and leveraging Club Carlson, with a renewed focus on delivering a differentiated customer experience to members. In addition, we’ll be adding exciting enhancements to SNAP and new market-intelligence tools. You can read more in this issue’s commercial strategy section, beginning on page 12. RADISSON BLU

In the midst of a busy year for London tourism, Edwardian completed rebranding to Radisson Blu in 2012, representing more than 2,500 rooms in 4- and 5-star hotels. More recently, we announced the conversion of the Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel Philadelphia to Blu, and the Radisson Plaza Hotel Minneapolis will join the Blu family in 2014. For a look at the highly anticipated second U.S. opening for the brand, please turn to page 52 to see our newest crown jewel, the Radisson Blu Mall of America. RADISSON

At the end of 2012, more than 50 percent of Radisson® hotels in the U.S. and Canada have completed Property Improvement Plans (PIPs). Driven by renovations and a renewed focus on quality and Yes I Can! SM, the brand’s metrics have significantly improved. (Page 28.) We’re on track for 75 percent of Radisson hotels in the U.S. and Canada to have completed PIPs by next year, and we’ll continue to drive guest satisfaction and revenue scores higher. This is now one of the freshest brands in North America! In addition, the branding team is reimagining Radisson with a pilot project to innovate the guest experience. Using data collected during the pilot period, Radisson will roll out a final


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Group Growth mbition 2015 is not just about driving the performance of our existing portfolio. Our strategy is to expand our portfolio by at least 50 percent, reaching at least 1,500 hotels in operation and under development by 2015. In developed markets, we’ve seen slower growth than we expected because of difficulty in obtaining construction financing. Still, we are confident that we are on pace to exceed our 2015 development targets. We set a goal to accelerate development of the Radisson® global portfolio up to 800 hotels in operation and under development by 2015. This year, the plan is to add another 31 properties, with 104 in the pipeline. For Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM we are on track to achieve our target of 750 hotels in operation and under development by 2015. In 2012, we opened 10 hotels in the U.S. and India, and we signed 16 more. In the Americas, we expect to add to our numbers with 12 Radisson hotels in 2013. Among these, as announced at the 2013 Full Service Brands Business Conference in Chicago, are four Radisson properties: the Radisson Hotel & Convention Center Calgary Airport East, the Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados, the Radisson Grenada Beach Resort, St. George and the Radisson Port of Spain–Trinidad. This year, we will also open the Park Inn by Radisson Calgary Airport, and we have already opened the Park Inn by Radisson San José, Costa Rica, and the Park Inn by Radisson Toronto–Markham. For Country Inns & Suites, we saw an increased interest from owners to convert assets due to the economy, and the brand demonstrated the ability for quality conversions. For 2013, we expect to add 15 new Country Inns & Suites hotels in the Americas, including our latest—and 20th and 21st openings in Texas—the Country Inn & Suites, Lubbock, and the Country Inn & Suites Dallas–Love Field.


program of brand elements across all hotels beginning in fall 2013. (Page 32.) PARK INN BY RADISSON

Last year, Carlson Rezidor opened nine Park Inn by Radisson hotels globally, including two California locations. Innovation will continue to be a strong growth driver for this brand. The brand has developed new, next-generation prototypes for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, which provide an inspiring look that may someday influence the design of hotels here. (Page 44.) COUNTRY INNS & SUITES BY CARLSON

Supported by successful programs in marketing and sales, Country Inns & Suites had another great year. Increasing Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) is a top priority for us, and, in 2012, we saw this metric improve by 6.9 percent. The brand outpaced segment growth and gained market share. For 2013, the brand will continue to focus on engaging the organization, growing distribution and improving quality and hotel owner return on investment. (Page 68.) At its own brand conference, to tremendous applause, Country Inns & Suites launched a complete redesign— including new architecture, interior aesthetics and visual identity—for the first time in its 25-year history. The new logo, which has been reinterpreted to evoke a more modern and sophisticated image, is already in wide rollout, and guests will begin to see the new, clean, contemporary architecture and interiors in the fourth quarter. We did not approach this redesign lightly, knowing that we would need to ensure that owners and management companies would benefit from their investments. (Page 72.) AT OUR CORE

In summary, we have made very good progress against our Ambition 2015 strategy, which gives us a great deal of confidence for the future. Still, we are not quite there yet and have hard work ahead, especially with the fragile global economy, as we transition into the post-2015 era. Carlson Rezidor is committed to further investing in our business to enhance our unique position among leading hotel companies. We will continue to be successful if we retain our spirit of innovation and focus on what really matters—our colleagues, our partners and our communities—while never forgetting the critical importance of the guest experience. Delivering bright spots in the lives of all who interact with Carlson will remain the center of our ambitions. 2 0 1 3 | TH E C ON FEREN C E IS S U E



Stepping Up

Diana Nelson builds on her family’s legacy of making a difference. // By Zoe Murphy


ttendees of the 2013 Full Service Brands Business Conference had the unique chance to hear from two generations of the Carlson family. Chairman-Elect Diana L. Nelson’s new role becomes official on May 15, 2013, and she is only the third chairman in the company’s history. After a childhood spent learning about Carlson at family events, Diana has developed a passion for the company and its culture, says outgoing Chairman Marilyn Carlson Nelson. “She has her grandfather’s ability to develop long and lasting relationships,” she continues. “And along with her many capabilities, Diana inspires trust. That’s why the Carlson board unanimously decided to entrust her with the proper governance of our company.” As Carlson celebrates its 75th anniversary, the significance of the milestone represents a rare achievement in business. Diana is well aware of the history behind her as she steps into her new role. “In our next 75 years, we want to work as diligently and to compete as hard as my grandfather and his colleagues did in the first decade of the company,” she says. She credits the strong mentors and role models Carlson has shown her over the years. “I know strong leadership has been a hallmark throughout Carlson’s history. I am thrilled to be working more closely with our leaders, who are guiding us to our Ambition 2015 goals and beyond, to a vision for 2020.”


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Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s Revenue Generation team looks to help hotels leverage revenue tools.

Opportunity Knocking W Written By Spencer Collins and Zoe Murphy

With analysts predicting another year of U.S. Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) gains, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group is increasing efforts to ensure its properties capture a bigger slice of the pie. “While we’re continuing to improve and add to our resources, we’re also working to match our current programs with our hotels’ local expertise to capture the significant opportunities out there,” says Suzy Riesterer, chief commercial officer, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. ONLINE ENGAGEMENT (page 14)



The Online Travel Agent (OTA) universe has expanded quickly in recent years. With hundreds of players coming in and out of the market, Carlson Rezidor is constantly evaluating OTAs to ensure its hotels are connected to these companies and receive the best possible terms. “At the hotel level, the key is to figure out which OTAs are good for you and how you can place well on their sites,” Riesterer says. “OTAs play an important role to expand our reach, but it’s important to use them sensibly.”

On the Web, it’s essential to be in the right places with accessible, engaging content. “Today, consumers are in the driver’s seat,” Riesterer says. Hotels should work to keep content like photography up-to-date and informative and to engage with customers on travel review sites, Riesterer says. “The online world requires us to interact differently with our customers. Tools like WebExtra and Revinate make it easy for hotels to reach out and engage with customers.”


SALES (page 16)


To drive sales in the corporate market, Carlson Rezidor introduced an industry-leading client savings report to its Preferred Corporate Rate (PCR) program. Along with the PCR program, Riesterer urges hotels to take advantage of initiatives such as Club CarlsonSM for Business, which is targeted to small and midsized businesses to drive corporate sales in local markets. Corporate isn’t the only segment with opportunity, she adds. Sports travel generates more than 47 million annual room nights, and the U.S. government, despite budget cuts, is still the single largest buyer of hotel rooms.

Today, customers shop rates across competitors, but also use multiple channels, such as the multitude of OTAs. Hotels must decide how to set rates in this environment, taking factors into consideration such as demand, competitor pricing and local market conditions. That’s where Stay Night Automated Pricing (SNAP) comes in, Riesterer says. The company and its revenue specialists continue working with hotels to help them make the most of SNAP, and they plan to enhance the program in 2013 with modules for groups and overbooking.

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In 2010, Carlson Rezidor set a goal to double its global loyalty program membership. Just two months into this year, the company had already reached that goal. To attract new customers and retain loyal guests, the company is focused on helping hotels market themselves through value-added packages and other programs as well as ensuring that staff members are delivering the benefits of Club Carlson to guests.



a plethora of social networks, online shopping sites and customer review choices are available to eager consumers looking for customer service and hot deals. Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group is helping its properties stay at the forefront of this online opportunity with engagement options like WebExtra, and hotels are seeing major revenue payoffs in return. Stay Current

Plugged In

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group gives hotels a direct line to digital success.


here’s no getting around it: Social media and digital commerce’s growing status in a successful business increases in magnitude with each finger swipe of an app or click of a mouse. In the last year alone, Forbes magazine reports a 45 percent increase in TripAdvisor’s online traffic and a 30 percent increase in shoppers looking for a hotel. Not only is e-commerce increasing, it’s evolving, and


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As the senior director of Online Strategy and Optimization for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Gigi DesLauriers-Knop pays close attention to e-commerce market trends. “We have seen significant growth in the online channel over the last several years,” she says. “This is primarily due to the proliferation of smart mobile devices.” With smartphones lighting up in the palms of more than half of Americans, DesLauriers-Knop says hotels have a prime opportunity to maximize their market presence and increase visibility. This means hotels need to get involved with e-commerce. “It’s imperative for brands, as well as business, to become more engaged online,” she says. WebExtra is one engagement tool that Carlson Rezidor uses to help hotels manage their online presence. With WebExtra, hotels can personalize their own Web pages for groups and events, adding photos, copy, logos and more. Each Carlson Rezidor property has a WebExtra site that staffers should update regularly, says DesLauriers-Knop. Continuously updating WebExtra information, from events to photos to special offers, is as important as keeping a clean hotel: It illustrates conscientiousness and care for guests’ needs. “A hotel’s website is like its ‘online lobby,’” she says, “and hotels need to take as good a care of it as their physical lobby.” Keeping content current also improves search engine success, says DesLauriers-Knop. “A site that never changes does not get picked up by search engines as frequently and will drop in value while competitors continue to climb.” Craig Benell, director of revenue generation at Radisson Fort McDowell Resort & Casino, reports that at his Scottsdale, Ariz., property, keeping up to speed with WebExtra content requires a time commitment. He recommends scheduling a regular appointment to make updates to ensure information stays current. “We allot time each

week. That’s key to keeping customers engaged each time they visit our site,” Benell says. Carlson Rezidor properties can easily update their hotel websites by simply accessing their WebExtra Update Request tool online through CONNECT. Delivering Deals

According to a 2011 independent research study, 53 percent of social network users follow travel brands or companies on social networking sites because they want coupons or a discount. An additional 48 percent want sales and announcements. WebExtra allows hotels to connect directly with customers seeking a special, pre-negotiated rate for a specific event through private-offer pages. “Each time a hotel hosts a specific event like a wedding, conference or reunion, we encourage them to build a private-offer page,” says DesLauriers-Knop. “These pages are customized to the group or guest for whom the offer was created.” For example, if Suzy Jones and Mike Smith are getting married, a hotel can create a private-offer page for that wedding. That way, when Suzy and Mike’s guests open the private-offer page, they can quickly search for a room, view event details and book their rooms using their special rate. Working Social Media

While WebExtra is a must-have for each hotel site, some hotels may also maximize their customers’ experiences through social media. According to a December 2012 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 67 percent of Americans regularly use social media. While this seems a tremendous market for hotels to tap into, DesLauriersKnop cautions that social media sites are not for everyone. “It’s important to know that all social media platforms are not right for every hotel,” she says. DesLauriers-Knop recommends hotels examine distinguishing features and make sure they have the time and staff to maintain their social media sites. She notes it can take a minimum of five hours weekly per social media platform, and not every location has those resources. “If a hotel is comfortable with all of these areas, we recommend they consider Facebook or Foursquare,” she says. “One important resource is Carlson Rezidor’s Social Media Reference Guide on CONNECT, which is updated regularly and will help educate and guide hotels through the brand standards and platforms.” Hotels using social media should pay close attention

to the social media format to stay current and timely. “Each social media channel has a different cadence for content,” DesLauriers-Knop explains. “While Twitter might be updated as frequently as daily or even multiple times a day, Facebook may follow a weekly or several times a week schedule. The key is to keep up with the channel and know when to shut it down if you can’t.” Reviewing Your Reviews

While many potential guests tap into social media to book rooms, others rely on information from fellow travelers to validate their travel decisions. Before social media, consumers relied on word of mouth to pass along reviews at a glacial pace. Today, good and bad reviews spread like wildfire and carry a lot of heft with consumers, as evidenced

“We have seen significant

growth in the online channel ... primarily due to the proliferation of smart mobile devices.” by soaring traffic to guest review sites like TripAdvisor. “This has made it necessary and important for brands, as well as businesses, to become more socially engaged,” says DesLauriers-Knop. Active management in review response shows guests the hotel cares about their experience. “As a best practice, every hotel should be monitoring, listening and responding to reviews online.” Carlson Rezidor’s social media monitoring tool Revinate is there to help hotels by collecting customer comments from sites and allowing hotels to easily respond. Benell agrees that paying attention to customer feedback is a crucial component of a successful Web presence. “Providing your customers with a response to their feedback demonstrates your commitment to quality customer service,” he says. “Ignoring feedback seems like the hotel is unconcerned with the customer experience.” As e-commerce and social media demands increase, Carlson Rezidor is equipped to help hotels handle the pressure. Keeping an eye on trends, managing customer feedback and staying current through online tools will propel hotels to be market leaders in digital commerce. 2 0 1 3 | TH E C ON FEREN C E ISSU E


Market Players Targeting specialty segments TO BOOST SALES.


he key to entrepreneurial success is finding a need and filling it, according to the old business adage. With that in mind, the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s sales teams see huge untapped potential for hotels this year in a few specialized areas—sports travel and U.S. government group and transient travel. These markets continue to evolve and are a key focus for the sales teams this year, says Shelly Irrgang, vice president, Sales, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. “There are many segments we target, but we are putting focus on these areas because there is tremendous revenue opportunity.” Every hotel has a chance to be successful by engaging with these segments and the business value they offer, she adds. “The sports and government segments not only represent a bigger market than you may think, but they have shown consistency during challenging economic times.” Winning business

When you first hear the term “sports travel,” you might think of big events, like pro games, but Tim Ellis, director, Global Sales–Sports Market, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, says that there’s also a lot of revenue potential in amateur and youth sports. “The sports-related travel market generates approximately $182 billion per year, and it continues to grow,” he says. “That’s more than 47 million room nights every year.” Further, sales professionals shouldn’t dismiss sports they


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may be less familiar with, he says. Emerging sports, such as lacrosse, field hockey and rugby, have shown a 60 percent participation increase over the last three years. Part of capitalizing on this revenue source is a hotel being engaged locally to be aware of emerging opportunities—for instance if a new sport, such as lacrosse, has started in the community. The other way to take advantage of sports-related revenue is developing an understanding of how sports travelers select hotels. Sports groups have unique requests that hotels need to be able to respond to, such as flexibility for late checkout. But if properties give sports travelers what they want, they can prove to be very loyal customers. Club CarlsonSM is a great incentive to sports travelers, says Ellis. Other tools properties need to be taking advantage of include private-offer pages and the Your Event page. “The private-offer pages are something the hotel can do on a local level. The Your Event page is good for partnering with a smaller tournament to use as a Web page to book hotels.” All employees can contribute to making sports groups feel welcome, from having water ready for a team at check-in to helping the group get in the elevators quickly. “Those little things make a big difference,” Ellis says. “And shows that the hotel ‘gets’ their business.” Michael Garner, general manager, Country Suites By Carlson, Burlington, N.C., knows from experience with sports groups that persistence and attention to details pay off. “Don’t be upset if they turn you down the first couple of times; booking rooms is the last thing coaches care about,” he says, noting his experience. “Stay with them and you’re more likely going to get the business.” Garner also urges properties to be flexible. “Groups may need a meeting room for break-out sessions. They may want to have a team dinner.” Following up when groups check in to see if there’s anything you can do to make things easier for them, like reserving tables at a restaurant, can go a long way toward keeping their business. Garner also recommends wishing them good luck and dropping them a thank-you note. GOVERNMENT GROUPS

Another major revenue source comes from the U.S. government, which is projected to spend roughly $850 million on groups and conferences in 2013. Despite recent changes to the government’s spending policies on travel, it remains the single largest buyer of hotel rooms on the planet.

Christopher McLaughlin, director, Global Sales–Government Market, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, says, “You have to understand the government procurement process. They are currently consolidating all of their Web-based procurement systems into one central source— This means a planner for the federal government has to verify through this central site that your hotel is active on the Central Contractor Registry (CCR) and up-to-date on your representations and certifications (reps and certs) before awarding a group opportunity.” Value inclusions such as breakfast, high-speed Internet, transportation and parking top the list in terms of what the government is seeking for groups and conferences. Carlson Rezidor’s position on diversity and security is a strong intangible to proactively offer to government buyers. In addition, Carlson Rezidor is an innovative leader in security. The Carlson Learning Network’s “Eye on Awareness-Hotel Security and Anti-Terrorism Training” is a program that was developed in partnership with international security experts, hospitality leaders and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to provide the skills and knowledge essential for hotel employees to recognize, report and react to suspicious situations at their properties. GOVERNMENT TRANSIENT

“A lot of our hotels don’t necessarily realize how big the government sector is to our company—even when you hear about all the cuts, this is still a huge market,” says Linda Colovos, government director, Global Sales, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. Colovos’ focus is on transient or single governmental travelers. She recommends hotels get to know their government “neighbors,” including first responders, federal executive boards, embassy and consulate personnel, and cost-reimbursable contractors. Transient government business requires long-term planning to position hotels. “We have to meet the various matrixes set up by the government so we get preferential listings for our hotels,” Colovos explains. “Things that can’t be done at the hotel level.” For example, the Carlson Rezidor Global Distribution team compiled a list of hotels within 50 miles of military

installations all over the world to add to online search filters. Currently, the company is in the process of doing the same thing with embassies. If hotels truly want to be successful in the government market, they need to understand government business trends. Typically, the business runs Sunday through Thursday, and single government travelers stay on average 2.71 nights. Transient travelers book through online booking tools, through their travel agents, through 800 numbers, on brand websites or through the hotel directly. A lot of the business comes from overseas as well. “One hotel does 1,600 room nights a year just with a local U.S. embassy,” says Colovos. “It’s a strategic partnership.” Whether it is increasing revenue through sports or government travel, recognizing these travelers for their business goes a long way. Says Colovos, “When it seems to travelers like one rental car company or one restaurant is just like another—people start to make a big difference.” 2 0 1 3 | TH E C ON FEREN C E ISSU E


Despite the challenges of navigating this ever-changing landscape, it’s crucial for hotels to master selling through these channels, says Audrey Murante, senior director, Global e-Business Development, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. “Global OTA revenue is huge and continues increasing every year. Because of that growth, OTAs play an important role by expanding our reach to new guests, especially as online consumers search an average of nine to 22 different sites during the selection process.” Carlson Rezidor is constantly evaluating the OTA players in the market to make sure its hotels are wellconnected, Murante adds. “The key for individual hotels is to figure out which OTAs deliver into their market and how they can play smarter on each site.” PAGE POSITION

Online Results

Taking advantage of opportunities available on OTAs and through GDSs.


ith the coming of the digital era, so too came the age of the Online Travel Agency (OTA) in the world of hotel distribution. Over the last decade, hotels have seen their distribution network rapidly grow larger and become more complex as the number of OTAs exploded, with various companies frequently entering and leaving the market.


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During her presentation, Leveraging Third-Party Distribution Channels to Improve Hotel Performance, at this year’s business conferences, Murante addressed how properties can maximize their return from OTAs. The first step for hotels is improving page position— moving higher in site rankings can go a long way toward enhancing a property’s overall performance. A recent eye-tracking study found that site visitors were more likely to focus on the top of the page and rarely scrolled to the bottom. “Page position directly affects production,” Murante says. “It’s determined by a number of factors, but the biggest way to improve page position is to improve the hotel’s relevancy to each customer.” Hotels most relevant to consumers increase site conversion. Conversion drives positioning, she says. Each OTA reserves its top spots for hotels with higher conversion rates, and they will always display those properties and the ones customers find the most relevant first. Most OTAs have four critical elements that can improve performance and in turn conversion—content (photos and descriptions), guest reviews, competitive rates (rate parity) and constant availability (inventory parity). Research conducted by and showed hotels with at least 15 high-quality images convert up to three times more room nights than hotels with fewer than five photos. On average the and research found that hotels that doubled

their photos saw a 4.5 percent increase in conversion and a $3.50 increase in Average Daily Rate (ADR). These increases are not guaranteed returns for all hotels, Murante cautions. “You have to show your property’s strong points,” says Murante. “Customers are typically looking for specific information, so showing a range of images that cover all available amenities, facilities and unique qualities is essential.” Murante also advises properties to look at their competitive sets, not only the hotels they consider competition, but also the ones each OTA offers as relevant alternatives when customers search in the area around their property.



“While conversion influences

Promotions also play an important part in increasing performance. Murante says that participating in promotional opportunities on OTAs can influence conversion. For instance, 25 percent of hotels on run promotions, and 40 percent of bookings come from properties participating in promotions. “While conversion influences ranking, you have to evaluate each promotional opportunity carefully before considering participation,” she advises. Properties need to consider what their goals are for the promotion: Is the hotel looking for increased occupancy or improved page placement? What rates are they willing to take during the promotional period, and if they run the promotion, what impact will the promotion have on the hotel’s generated revenue? Use caution to avoid negatively impacting highdemand periods, Murante says. “Don’t feel pressured into offering discounts in exchange for placement improvements alone. Not all discounts benefit the hotel even though they appear to be driving additional occupancy.” And remember the discount offered is in addition to the current margin given to each OTA. And finally, hotels should determine the breakeven point, Murante says. “The breakeven point is the number of additional rooms that would be needed at the discounted rate in order to break even with the original potential revenue.” She adds, “Consider the breakeven before running any discounting promotion, too.” And remember you still have to consider the cost of the occupied room.

Most large OTAs offer paid placement, such as’s Preferred Program, which requires an increased commission for top page placement. So when should a property use paid placement to improve its performance? “If you are located in a primary market, many hotels could be listed on and customers won’t scroll down. Becoming Preferred may be required in larger metropolitan cities, but again, the hotel needs to evaluate the increase in the cost before signing up,” Murante says. (Note that does allow hotels to sign up for a trial period, and Preferred is cancellable at any time.)

ranking, you have to evaluate each promotional opportunity carefully.” Finally, just like with OTAs, customer relevancy also drives volume and performance through the Global Distribution System (GDS) channel. “Travel agents and corporate customers are going to book hotels that are most relevant,” Murante says. Relevancy is based on which hotels are in corporate rate programs, the property nearest the desired location and the hotel that offers the best value. Hotels can influence positioning and improve conversion by better management of their presence on the GDSs. Sabre is the largest-producing GDS for Carlson Rezidor brands in North America. “Research shows that hotels in the top third of the hotel availability display are selected by agents nearly 60 percent of the time, regardless of any qualifiers that may be used in their search,” Murante says. MANAGING PRESENCE

As rates and occupancies have begun to increase throughout all travel segments, managing rates and inventory—as well as overall presence—ensures hotels’ ability to leverage the right channels at the right time. “Managing presence is critical to maximizing revenue opportunities,” Murante says. 2 0 1 3 | TH E C ON FEREN C E ISSU E


Star Treatment Using marketing AND LOYALTY to maximize revenue.


he Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group has a simple, proven formula for increasing revenue. Step one: Offer guests a delightful and comfortable experience. Step two: Reward their loyalty to encourage them to return. “The primary job of marketing is to attract attention to our brands and get new guests to stay at our hotels,” explains Mary Kay Caschetta, vice president, Loyalty, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. “Then, it’s the brand experience combined with our loyalty program that gets guests to come back.” Now, thanks to new tools and best practices in marketing and loyalty that Carlson Rezidor demonstrated at this year’s business conferences, hotels can take the reins on adding to the top line at their individual properties. Three of the areas the company is focusing on this year are helping hotels market themselves, enhancing revenue via retention of Club CarlsonSM members and taking advantage of a growing Club Carlson for Business program. VALUE-ADDED PACKAGES

Through a collection of value-added packages that lend each brand a consistent image, individual hotels are empowered to increase revenue by marketing their own properties. Travel isn’t always “business as usual” for Carlson Rezidor guests. According to a 2012 American Express study, 22 percent of travelers hope to infuse their trip with a fun experience, like a spa or shopping excursion. And 42 percent want to incorporate visits to local sites and museums. “Our value-added packages, a program we introduced early last year for the Radisson® and Radisson Blu brands,


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give hotels an opportunity to capture that market,” says Ed Thorne, director, Brand Marketing, Radisson, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. Radisson and Radisson Blu hotels have the option to participate in six pre-defined packages, including alternatives like Bed & Breakfast for Two, Shopping and Romance. “We currently have 100 percent participation on our requirement that hotels offer at least two out of the six packages. But this year, we’re asking that hotels participate in four, five or even all six,” Thorne says. Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM and Park Inn by Radisson also implemented a similar program. “Last year, we tested 11 optional packages and measured results. The program exceeded our expectations,” says Jenne Roper, director, Brand Marketing, Midscale Brands, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. “This year, we’re focusing on five of those packages and are requiring the hotels to offer three of the five, with the opportunity to customize the packages at the local level. According to Thorne, hotels earn additional revenue from packages because they drive a higher rate above the brands’ Average Daily Rate (ADR). For example, the Radisson and Radisson Blu brands’ Bed & Breakfast for Four drives an average daily rate of $92 more than the brand’s ADR, and the Romance package generates $106 more than the brand’s ADR. And for the Country Inns and Suites and Park Inn brands, hotels deliver an average of $51 above ADR on each package. Many hotels have been running packages of their own, but these new programs build brand consistency and are supported with online advertising. For Country Inns & Suites and Park Inn by Radisson properties in the Americas, a stepby-step guide explains the core elements of each package, plus displays marketing templates that are available on ADS (Advertising Design Services tool) to use in local marketing. DELIVER THE BENEFITS

In the past three years, Club Carlson has seen dramatic growth, adding millions of members and more than doubling membership. These new members have registered with the expectation of receiving certain benefits, and consistent delivery of those benefits is critical to retaining loyal guests.

In fact, Carlson Rezidor conducted a customer loyalty study in 2012 that showed that many loyalty members aren’t necessarily motivated by points earnings: Members are often more concerned with the experience they had at your hotel, and whether or not they thought their membership made a difference in their stay. As a result, making loyal guests feel special is one of the most important ways that employees can contribute to their hotel’s business, Caschetta says. “While all benefits are important, our members report recognition and room upgrades as the two most valued perks of the program.” Caschetta offers hotels the following tips: • Establish a routine. “Select someone on the front-desk team to review pre-arrival reports on CONNECT and Opera, then complete daily Opera alerts in order to personalize a greeting for the check-in process,” Caschetta says. • Flash your memory. Each hotel received flashcards with sample scripts that can help front-desk staff easily recognize members during their stay. • Communicate room upgrades. “With all the different room types, it’s important to let members know at check-in when they’ve received an upgrade, and likewise if an upgrade was not available,” Caschetta says. Carlson Rezidor’s free upgrade keycards and stickers are available to help remind guests that they received an upgrade. WE MEAN BUSINESS

“The Club Carlson for Business program has been growing since it was introduced in mid-2011,” says Derek Robertson, director, Businessto-Business Loyalty, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. “But in the last 12 months, we have seen membership surge more sharply. At the beginning of March, we had 2,600 companies in the program. That’s compared to 900 at the same time last year. Hotels are becoming more engaged in enrolling businesses as they realize the benefits.” Designed for small and medium-size businesses, the free program offers eligible companies a 5 percent discount on participating hotels’ best available rates. Any time one of the company’s employees or other business associates checks in, the member company earns Gold Points® on top of the points individual members collect. These points can be redeemed by the company administrator for the same great rewards as the individual program.

“Aside from the 5 percent discount, there is no added cost to the hotel because the Club Carlson program is paying for the points awarded to the business,” Robertson explains. “And we’ve found that hotels are more than willing to trade a 5 percent discount to develop a relationship with a business.” This January, Club Carlson for Business introduced a private landing page through that makes booking even easier. Each member company has its own unique page that provides program information and a button that makes reservations quick and easy. This link can be forwarded to anyone traveling on behalf of a company to make a reservation, and no detailed instructions are needed. Club Carlson for Business is also a valuable selling tool for participating hotels. “It’s a great excuse to contact your existing clients and offer to upgrade them to a new level, and it is a new and compelling tool to take to local businesses who haven’t been willing to sign a business deal with you in the past,” Robertson says. 2 0 1 3 | TH E C ON FEREN C E ISSU E


Managing revenue effectively requires seeing the big picture—a picture further complicated by the interaction of a number of factors, including length of stay, demand, local market conditions and a fiercely competitive environment. It’s a challenge that requires hotels to gather and analyze a monumental amount of ever-changing data, a task that would prove virtually impossible without a sophisticated analytical tool. Fortunately for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group properties, that tool exists as Stay Night Automated Pricing (SNAP), the company’s software program that recognizes the changes in market conditions, competitor pricing and hotel demand and reacts, says Kathleen Mallery, senior director, Revenue Optimization, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. “SNAP helps you price relative to all rates across all channels and competitors, while factoring in demand and previously booked business,” says Mallery. “Without SNAP, you could be missing significant revenue opportunities.” SNAP POWER

Power of Change SNAP helps manage today’s pricing challenges.


he Internet changed everything about optimizing hotel revenue. No longer can hoteliers simply group customers by distribution channels to set different rates. Today, customers use the Web to shop rates across competitors, but also among multiple channels— accessed through a plethora of brand sites, Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and price comparison sites.


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On a daily basis, Carlson Rezidor’s industry-leading revenue optimization tool receives updated competitorrate data, bookings, inventory and forecasts to help position the hotel price for optimal revenue while remaining competitive in the market. SNAP continuously adjusts itself as events change— and in the hotel world, events are always changing. With the explosion of OTAs, consumers can view and compare competitor pricing in a matter of seconds. Dynamic pricing, such as SNAP, allows the individual hotel to react to changing events and remain competitive. For example, a sudden spike in demand may cause a hotel to increase rates, or an unexpected loss of group business may cause the hotel to decrease rates. Ninety-nine percent of Carlson Rezidor’s North American properties have used SNAP. Globally, the figure is 85 percent. By consistently using SNAP rate recommendations, hotels have seen some amazing results, says Mallery. “Recently, as sophistication grew in using the power of SNAP, we have observed a few hotels with extreme results—up to 35 percent year-over-year unit

revenue growth attributed to SNAP.” When properties know something that SNAP doesn’t, such as demand created by a local convention or sporting event, the tool’s flexibility allows user modification and reload of the rate. However, Mallery reports that overall, properties are seeing that SNAP finds more opportunities than it misses. James Fuller, revenue program manager, Revenue Optimization, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, says that the proof is in the numbers. “Hotels that accept 75 percent of the daily recommendations on average will see a 2 to 4 percent Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) increase in their transient segments.” BEST PRACTICES

SNAP develops its view of each hotel’s market through the Shop Sets that those properties create, says Fuller. “Think of the Shop Sets as the hints for SNAP to aim at. Your guests are shopping and seeing these same rates, so most of the time SNAP is going to price near your Market Reference Price (MRP).” As a result, hotels must adjust settings, weightings and seasons to realize the full value of SNAP, explains Fuller. Other best practices for SNAP Shop Sets include finding a true key shop competitor to use for a baseline MRP. “Trying to average a very high-rate competitor with others that are low can end up giving you an MRP that confuses the guest in an online comparison,” says Fuller. Hotels should use offsets when they know the guest can see the value difference—for example if the property has a better pool or is located near seasonal attractions. From there, it’s fine to add up to 10 shop competitors, but set some weightings to zero, Mallery advises. “Or perhaps weight them in one season, but not in the other,” she says. Finally, a quarterly review with a District Revenue Specialist (DRS) or your ROPES specialist is important, says Fuller. “They are there to help hotels with all revenue-related issues and questions.” As the first line of contact for SNAP support, the DRS can assist with understanding the rate recommendations and data or evaluating the competitive environment to ensure the right hotels are loaded in SNAP.


Price by Demand What is dynamic pricing? Here’s a simplified example. Say you have a pizza truck with 100 slices of pizza that you begin selling for $3 a slice at 10:30 a.m. By the noon lunch rush, there is already a line around the block, and you are half out of slices. To react to the increase in demand, you increase your price to $6. Some people in line are unwilling to pay this price and move on. However, many stay, and eventually, you sell out of pizza. Had you not reacted by pricing dynamically and raising your price when the line got long, you would have sold all of your pizza at $3 per slice, leaving money on the table by not finding those customers who were willing to pay $6. Instead of making just $300, you made $450.

Attendees at this year’s Full Service Brands Business Conference had the opportunity to see the full potential of SNAP unleashed when they divided into teams during Revenue Optimization Business School classes and played a game to see which teams could make more money at a hypothetical hotel with their revenue optimization decisions. Mallery’s intended takeaway for the participants was to give them the ability to replicate the experience back at their properties. “If hotel general managers played the game and really think it would help their staff understand the strategy of revenue optimization, then we could certainly consider offering it to hotels,” she says. The goal is to someday work the game into the Radisson Brand Certification (RBC) and Country Inns & Suites By Carlson Business Orientation (CBO) meetings, and eventually utilize the experience as a part of further additions to the Carlson Rezidor Business School curriculum. FUTURE CHANGES

Carlson Rezidor continues to invest and develop in SNAP, and hotels can look forward to more updates to help them capture additional revenue. In 2013, Carlson Rezidor is looking at launching an Overbooking Recommendation Module to assist hotels in managing overbooking, without leaving rooms unsold at the last minute due to cancellations or no-shows. And don’t worry, the system is configurable—each hotel can set its own risk level for “walks” to fit its market constraints. Later in 2013, Carlson Rezidor also plans to release a Group Evaluation Module to assist hotels in evaluating group proposals and ensuring each group at the time of contract is profitable for the hotel. In addition, early news from vendor partner JDA Software suggests the potential for an enhanced user interface experience and even the possibility of iPad compatibility down the road. “Carlson Rezidor is looking at ways to allow hotels to run a refreshed optimization during the day if major market conditions warrant a re-optimization,” Mallery explains. “We also are investigating rate shopping alternatives in markets with minimal competition,” she adds. “We keep working to discover new ways to price to demand.” 2 0 1 3 | TH E C ON FEREN C E ISSU E


ATTENDEES CAME TOGETHER TO THE Attendance at the 2013 Full Service Brands Business Conference in Chicago broke records, and it’s no wonder. The Business School curriculum provided plenty of actionable strategies. Directors of Sales had opportunities to meet with the global sales team during one-on-one appointments to discuss hotel sales goals. And the entire event featured time to network, celebrate success and plan for the year ahead.



“We focused on

making the sessions interactive, with strategies teams can immediately put into action.” —Steve Outwater, vice president, People Development, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

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Major milestones propel Radisson another step ahead. // By Spencer Collins


s the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group enters the fourth year of its Ambition 2015 strategy to reposition Radisson® in the Americas for growth and global alignment, the brand’s momentum continues increasing. “We continue to move forward, driven by improvements in product, service and effective revenue-generation systems and tools,” says Javier Rosenberg, chief operating officer, Radisson, and executive vice president, Owned and Managed Hotels, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. “There is still much work to be done, but we’re making excellent progress.” Last year, Carlson Rezidor focused on the strength of its systems and partnerships, all while introducing a number of new programs and initiatives to bring hotels more revenue and improve guest satisfaction. As a result, Radisson showed gains or improvements across the board, says Rosenberg. “To sum up 2012, it was very much a comprehensive set of accomplishments,” he says. “With that groundwork laid, 2013 is about building on those milestones—continuing to focus on revenue generation and product and service enhancements—so all of our hotels can master their markets.” 



Javier Rosenberg chief operating officer, Radisson, and executive vice president, Owned and Managed Hotels, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group 2 0 1 3 | TH E C ON FEREN C E ISSUE



Seeing Blu Brand Expansion The first Blu hotel in the United States, the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago, has taken the city’s competitive market by storm. During many weeks of the first year of operation, the hotel commanded a Revenue Generation Index (RGI) above 100 points, proof that with the right product and the right management, Carlson Rezidor’s systems can master the market. Looking ahead, another addition to the Radisson Blu brand will come with the conversion of one of the company’s existing hotels—the Radisson PlazaWarwick Hotel Philadelphia. The renovations will be complete by summer.


Rosenberg, who presented a brand update and outlook during the keynote session at the 2013 Full Service Brands Business Conference in Chicago, says that the work to become stronger is already paying off. They’ve got the numbers to prove it. For Radisson in the Americas last year, Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) grew 6.5 percent, and Radisson continued gaining on its competitors, evidenced by a Revenue Generation Index (RGI) increase of 1.3. The 2012 emphasis on Yes I Can! SM, coupled with Carlson Rezidor’s commitment to guest service, yielded a year-over-year Guest Satisfaction Index (GSI) growth of .06 points. New and enhanced revenue-generation tools helped to drive these results. For example, Carlson Rezidor has strengthened and expanded global sales offices and launched a leading Preferred Corporate Rate program (PCR), which demonstrated an increase of 15 percent in revenue growth year-over-year in the Americas. (Read more about Carlson Rezidor’s Revenue Generation programs in a special section beginning on page 12.) POWERFUL PRODUCT

Along with business improvements as a result of new revenue systems, Carlson Rezidor and its partners have worked diligently to meet the goal of renovating half of the Radisson portfolio by the end of 2012. “I’m happy to say that we’ve met that 50 percent milestone, and we’re well on our way to having the freshest product in the upscale segment,” says Rosenberg. “That’s thanks to investments by our partners and hard work by hotel team members.” The next step is to have completed renovations in 75 percent of properties by the 2014 Business Conference. “At the pace at which we are going, I’m confident we will have met that goal by next year,” says Rosenberg. Despite lingering uncertainty in the economy, the hospitality industry saw significant gains in 2012, Rosenberg says. Hotels that are renovating are riding the wave of this momentum. “These properties are in the best position to capture market share and improve their business performance. Last year, our renovated hotels saw their RevPAR increase by 8.9 percent, resulting in market share going up by a solid 4.8 points, due to sharp gains in GSI.” In addition, Carlson Rezidor continues to enhance the food and beverage experience, as the company continues

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to roll out successful and profitable concepts across the Americas. Hotels continue to deploy concepts such as FireLake, Filini and RBG, with a FireLake having opened at the new Radisson Blu Mall of America near Minneapolis and new RBG restaurants open in Phoenix, Seattle and at the Park Inn by Radisson San José, Costa Rica. “These are more than just a way to delight guests—these concepts also deliver margins,” Rosenberg says. (See “Stacking Up,” page 38.) MASTERING SERVICE

Product improvements, however, are only one part of the equation for hotel success. By focusing on building the brand’s iconic Yes I Can! culture, Radisson hotels are delivering a world-class experience to guests. In 2012, corporate teams took to the road with the Yes I Can! Tour—covering 127 hotels and presenting to more than 8,000 employees—to personally bring home the Yes I Can! message to every Radisson in North America. “For every employee, whatever his or her title, there is only one role, and that is to take care of the guest,” says Rosenberg. Between renovations, Yes I Can! and increased associate and leadership engagement at hotels, 2012 also brought significant gains in Medallia metrics. The brand GSI average jumped, making gains in service, product, loyalty and Yes I Can! indices. “A true indicator of performance, loyalty shows that guests who are trying our hotels have enjoyed it so much that they are choosing to return,” says Rosenberg. Rosenberg finds Yes I Can! success most evident in responses to guests’ post-stay survey question: Did the staff do whatever it took to meet my needs? “This question speaks to the very core of the Yes I Can! culture at our hotels,” he says. “And in 2012, as a testimony to the strength of our efforts, the score for this question grew by .08 points.” In recent years, Carlson Rezidor has also increased its focus on third-party evaluation through on-site Quality Performance Reviews (QPRs). The brand continues to move

From Top, Clockwise: Raj Rana—who was recently promoted to chief executive officer, South Asia, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group—presenting brand updates at the Full Service Brands Business Conference. Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chairman, Carlson; Diana Nelson, chairman-elect, Carlson; and Trudy Rautio, president and chief executive officer, Carlson. The recently renovated Radisson Blu Resort Marina & Spa, St. Martin. Lounge at the Radisson Hotel Admiral Toronto–Harbourfront. Rendering of proposed design concepts for the Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel Philadelphia.


forward on all measures of cleanliness, conditions and brand standards. “Benefiting from renovations, condition scores are up, and as more hotels renovate, even greater gains are expected in condition scores,” Rosenberg says. “And as we push for brand standards compliance, I am confident the scores in this area will also get a further lift.” HIGHER STANDARDS

“We’re well on

our way to having the freshest product in the upscale segment.” —Javier Rosenberg

To keep up the momentum, Carlson Rezidor will continue to raise the bar in the year ahead. On QPR evaluations, the company has reduced the threshold for Problem Incidence and increased it for Problem Resolution. High problem-incident levels at hotels can be one of the biggest hindrances when it comes to winning market share, Rosenberg explains. To ensure 2012’s major Yes I Can! initiatives provide enduring results, each hotel has been asked to complete the bimonthly Yes I Can! activities in a timely manner. “We are constantly evaluating how to make the guest experience better,” Rosenberg says. “This year, we have also introduced requirements for guest room temperature settings, email folio delivery and more HD channels.” In marketing, Radisson is rolling out a new platform, called Brand-it!, which replaces and improves on the current ADS (Advertising & Design Services) tool. Finally, with the growing threat from hackers, compliance with payment card industry standards is more important than ever. A new partnership with TrustWave gives all hotels a portal for self-assessment and training. LOOK TO LEADERS

Moving ahead, it’s important that people remember that the hospitality industry is still about people delivering service, Rosenberg says. “And we need the leaders to guide them.” Carlson Rezidor continues to support leadership and talent development with platforms like the Carlson Rezidor Business School. Since 2010, more than 600 leaders have taken advantage of the learning environment. Leadership, however, begins at the hotel level, Rosenberg says. “In an industry about people, leadership is vital, and engaging with customers, the brand, suppliers, colleagues and the community allows every property to successfully deliver service to its customers and drive profitability to ownership,” Rosenberg says. “Leadership engagement is the key to competing in and successfully mastering today’s markets.” 2 0 1 3 | TH E C ON FEREN C E ISSU E


Gordon McKinnon talks about a reimagined Radisson with 14 new concepts that focus on service innovation and adding the human touch to the guest experience. // By Deborah M. Bernstein


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RADISSON BRANDING Javier Rosenberg chief operating officer, Radisson, and executive vice president, Owned and Managed Hotels, Americas, Gordon McKinnon Carlson Rezidor executive vice president and chief branding officer, Carlson

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14 for ‘14 1. New World of Radisson 2. Updated Yes I Can! SM 3. Extra Thoughtful Care 4. New uniforms 5. Luxury bath products 6. Mobile/online check-in 7. Radisson iConcierge app 8. Spread the Love 9. Healthy Options 10. Upgraded lobby standards 11. Meetings Success 12. Reimagined identity 13. Improved online experience 14. The X Squad


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adisson®, a brand with a proud heritage of bighearted, upscale hospitality, is reinventing itself for the 21st century with a new, young-at-heart attitude, a fresh look and a battery of programs focusing on the customer experience. Carlson Rezidor’s caring, sharing and daring brand is testing new technology, new revenue-generation initiatives and even new uniforms that evoke a more youthful image. It’s all part of a plan to help Radisson develop a stronger brand personality, one more relevant in today’s marketplace. The enhancement focuses on 14 concepts that will give Radisson a competitive edge. The new concepts are being launched in a pilot at select hotels as the brand explores ways to redefine touchpoints of the guest experience. Hotline spoke with Gordon McKinnon, executive vice president and chief branding officer, Carlson, to learn more about what it means for the brand, employees and owners. HOTLINE I Radisson is undergoing dramatic changes. Why? MCKINNON I Every brand in the world has to change to stay relevant. We have an ambitious vision for Radisson that will enhance the long-term future of our brand. For all the technology in the world today, communication is easier than ever, but the irony is that real connections through human interaction have never been more precious. That’s the crux of where we are right now and where we see opportunity. It’s the return of the guest experience. This is now becoming much more of a movement. You can see it through all kinds of trends. We’re in a prime position to capitalize on this. At our heart, of course, we are a hospitality company—this is what we do. Q I Can we say we are looking at a reimagined Radisson? A I We’re looking at the brand in a new way and refining our DNA. We’re in the planning stage of what we call “14 for ‘14,” or 14 new initiatives with the aim of a 2014 launch. The process stems from viewing everything through the lens of our brand essence, through the filter of caring, sharing and daring. We’re going after the kind of service and

Opposite Page, Top Left: Rose Kutzli, vice president, Branding, Radisson Blu, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group; Kris Lambrecht, director, Brand Program Development, Radisson, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group; Hope Swenson, manager, Brand Marketing, Radisson Blu, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group; Torri Van Zee, marketing coordinator, Branding, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group; Richard Flores, vice president, Branding, Radisson, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group; and Kristin Marchiafava, director, Branding, Carlson

Uniform Refresh Piloting a new employee look In its new branding pilot program, Radisson is introducing a variety of uniforms with new splashes of color, giving the brand a more youthful feel. “It’s a bit about attitude; it’s a bit about communication,” explains McKinnon. “We’re looking for further ways to connect with guests and staff members. In the U.S., we think we’ve found a new medium for that; for example, we’re looking at T-shirts as one uniform layer of choice in certain situations.” While McKinnon isn’t sure if the concept will work in other parts of the world, he says he’ll watch how the pilot program is received before rolling the new look out across the brand.

customer experience we need to win this game. Starting this spring, we are piloting these programs in four properties for three months: the Radisson Hotel La Crosse, Wis.; the Radisson Hotel Phoenix Airport; the Radisson Hotel Salt Lake City Downtown; and the Radisson Hotel Seattle Airport. We intend to roll out systemwide in 2014. Q I Can you talk more about some of your pilot initiatives? A I We’re getting ready to pilot some unique brand promotors: Extra Thoughtful Care (ETC), Spread the Love, Healthy Breakfast, Meetings Success and Extra Eco Friendly. We’ll be testing Check-in Choice, a new mobile and online check-in option, and launching the Radisson iConcierge, an on-property concierge smartphone application. The brand is also looking at new uniforms, with a more modern, youthful feel, and working with Rituals to supply new bath amenities. Through the pilot program, we plan to test another initiative called the X Squad, which consists of a revenue specialist, a learning specialist, an operations specialist and a team leader. They will visit pre-selected, qualified hotels for four to five days to help drive learning, coaching, marketing and revenue generation. They’ll bring promotional material, uniforms and in-house materials that will enhance the look and feel of the hotels and match the new, advanced levels of service. They will target every area of each hotel to create and help drive a consistent brand experience. The X Squad will support the hotels’ own marketing plans to take optimal advantage of social media, special offers and promotions. They’ll energize local staff, explain brand changes, offer new and improved Yes I Can! SM and Extra Thoughtful Care training and conduct intensive revenue-generation (RevGen) training with hotel sales and revenue teams. Q I As part of 14 for ‘14, do you have plans to rework some of your service philosophies? A I They are all being revisited and we have even rewritten Yes I Can!, although the principles for Yes I Can! will never change. We have been working with the operations team to take the program to a different level. We want to make it even more interesting for the hotel staff and something they really believe in. I’m very excited about the next Yes I Can! This is a pivotal part of invigorating the internal culture at the company. Q I What are some of the other revitalization initiatives? A I We live in a digital world. We are currently enhancing our website with a real mobile and tablet focus. We’re also developing what’s called a property app, which, in essence, is a brand app as well. With this new iConcierge app, we will 2 0 1 3 | TH E C ON FEREN C E ISSU E


Planet Clean Designer amenities Continuing its philosophy of caring for the planet and the customer, Radisson is bringing guests upgraded bathroom amenities from Rituals, a luxury home and cosmetics company. Authentic, traditional Eastern skin care and bathing rituals inspire Rituals products—with natural, renewable and organic ingredients that aren’t tested on animals. No longer is a bathroom amenity agreement just a mere business contract, says McKinnon. Today, it’s about a partnership—sharing beliefs, values and brand essence. “It’s a major coup that we attracted Rituals to Radisson,” says McKinnon.


provide all the brand information hotels need, and all the hotel information: local attractions, menus, booking or where the gym and spa is located. Next up on the list is a new initiative in driving food and beverage (F&B), our Healthy Options menus, at breakfast or throughout the day. I think it’s another signature element that we can begin to take ownership of and be known for. Q I What’s next on the agenda? A I A program we are calling Meetings Success. It’s a huge area of potential growth for us. You can’t name a brand that is already well-known for having a special expertise in meetings. We have free capacity in our hotels. So, if you put that together with Healthy Options menus and our new apps, which will have the meeting concepts and meeting facilities directories in them, then we’re beginning to package it into something that isn’t going to need a huge investment at the hotel level. It’s all about the people, the training, the service and the concepts we offer, and it’s something our brand can really own in the future. We’re also introducing a new caring and sharing element, a giant step into the charity world. With our Share the Love program, we’ve set a target of raising $1 million, split among four charities, some of which will be local and some of which will be supported by the Carlson Family Foundation. It’s a huge commitment in terms of numbers of dollars and in terms of beginning to create a personality and more of an identity for Radisson itself. We’re beginning to do activities like this for the best of both worlds: It’s for the common good, and it starts to present a different picture of Radisson. Q I What was the starting point to move the brand along this path of revitalization? A I It was all about timing. We know you can’t create effective change without careful consideration, preparation and implementation. And we knew that we had to have the physical product in good shape before we could, in effect, take the whole experience to market. So, we started by completely reframing the World of Radisson, which represents all of the touchpoints of the customer journey. Taking Blu as the base, we established what the differences were between Radisson Blu and Radisson and gave Radisson its own signature elements, to provide it with its own identity. All of this is about making a much clearer bifurcation between Radisson Blu and Radisson. Now, in this constant state of evolution, we’ll go back and look at Blu as well. We will work that through the first couple

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of quarters this year. So, we’ll then have two brands coming from the same parent, but one operating upscale and one upper-upscale. Rest assured, we are very clear on how they will be defined separately. Q I Why is ramping up these changes so important now? A I We are very serious about all of this because it is a huge step forward for the brand. It’s coming at a point—not by accident—when the portfolio is over 50 percent there in terms of renovations and is on track to complete the rest. We’re at the very beginning of a new consumer movement in the U.S. that’s going to demand a certain level of guest experience, as opposed to treating hotel stays like a commodity. This time right now is a kind of tipping point. There’s a guest perception lag on all of this, so it may take a few years to realize the true revenue benefits. It’s really an investment in our future. Q I We’ve heard some great things about all of these changes and upgrades and how they can have an immediate impact on the guest. Do you feel a change in the air? A I We have so much going on in all the brands, so much good stuff. For Radisson, it comes back to the renovations and the great work that was done last year on the Yes I Can! tour. It’s building momentum. You could feel it at the conference. There is a real, tangible energy around the brand now. Q I What’s the ultimate goal of the Radisson revitalization? A I It’s simple: To dramatically improve the guest experience by leveraging the property product improvements and by investing directly in service concepts, as well as the skill set and knowledge of our individual hotels. At the end of the day, our objective is to be the leader in each of the markets that we serve. So by using these programs to drive demand, our goal is to have a direct impact on RevPAR [Revenue Per Available Room] through an increased GSI [Guest Service Index], leading to a top position within our competitive set. We know success breeds success, so we are hoping these changes will spur development and growth opportunities for the brand as a whole.

From Top, Clockwise: Share the Love pins from a charity fundraiser at the 2013 Full Service Brands Business Conference. Conference attendees learn about new branding concepts in the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago gallery. Radisson is working with Rituals, a luxury, environmentally friendly cosmetics company, to bring guests new bath products. Radisson is developing a new app to allow for online check-in and enhancing its website to better work with mobile and tablet technology.


Caring. Sharing. Daring. What’s the essence of a vibrant brand? With Radisson, it’s all about people and treating them as individuals. The brand is proactive, socially connected and innovative. Its heart is in its service-based philosophies: Yes I Can! SM, 100% Satisfaction Guarantee and Extra Thoughtful Care. The goal is to extend these to everyone Radisson interacts with as it works toward the future.

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Stacking Up

New standards and service tips capitalize on evolving customer preferences. // By Wendy Carlson

vendors can offer hotel restaurants those products,” he says. Quality now counts more than ever. During a December tasting with some of the company’s top chefs, Carlson Rezidor established new breakfast core products including thicker-cut bacon, premium orange juice, unprocessed cheese, turkey and chicken sausage, and natural deli meats. Larsson points out that people are willing to pay a little extra for superior items. It’s important for chefs to think local, says Larsson. He recommends using at least five to six regionally inspired dishes, incorporating when possible locally sourced products, flavors and spices and seasonal fruits and vegetables. DRIVING PROFITABILITY

While keeping on top of trends, a good hotel restaurant must stay mindful of top and bottom lines. Creating synergies on


issed flight? Lost luggage? When the best-laid travel plans go awry, a positive hotel dining experience can leave a lasting impression, drawing repeat in-house guests, while attracting guests from the surrounding community. Successful food and beverage operations are crucial to positioning a hotel in its market and have become an increasingly important revenue source. During Carlson Rezidor Business School sessions at the company’s 2013 Full Service Brands Business Conference, Christer Larsson, vice president, Food and Beverage, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, shared menu strategies created to drive profitability. “It’s simple: If you keep guests happy and give them what they want, they will return again and again,” says Larsson. CHANGING TASTES

To continue enhancing the dining experience in its Radisson hotels, Carlson Rezidor has implemented new 2013 breakfast brand standards, which reflect culinary trends toward fresh, local food options. Multigrain breads, cagefree eggs, yogurt and other items low in fat and sodium are now standard. New vegetarian, sugar-free and glutenfree standards address growing demand for special dietary requests. “Their popularity has exploded: We’ve made sure our


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“If you keep guests

happy and give them what they want, they will return again and again.” the menu is one way to keep food costs efficient, especially when using higher-priced, locally sourced products. For example, the RBG Bar & Grill at the Radisson Hotel Seattle Airport uses fresh-caught, wild salmon in four different dishes: grilled filet, fish tacos, seafood fettuccine and grilled salmon salad. “If you don’t create synergies with your menu, you may end up throwing products away and that reduces profit,” Larsson says. He advises chefs to determine which dishes are win-wins by weighing food costs against sales. Larsson also advocates a user-friendly menu with easy-toread type, simple descriptions, familiar ingredients and good price points to help guide diners. Finally, no matter the restaurant’s size, it’s vital that it has a marketing plan, as well as a promotion and press kit that includes menus, a wine list, bar and drink lists, recipes and the chef’s biography. Keep your staff trained and educated on the menu, and provide strategies to sell and upsell.

FOOD AND BEVERAGE Christer Larsson, vice president, Food and Beverage, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

Dining Demos To help inspire chefs and managers, The Carlson Learning Network (CLN) now offers a unique outlet. “The Feed,� launched in March, is a collection of short videos submitted by Radisson chefs and food and beverage managers. The video series gives chefs the opportunity to share new recipes and how-tos. To build momentum for the site, Carlson Rezidor food and beverage professionals who submit a 5- to 8-minute video on any food and beverage topic before July 1, 2013, will be eligible to win an iPad mini. Check out CONNECT for more information and submission guidelines.




ecently, a guest staying at the Radisson Hotel Corning, New York, reported that his pillow was too plump. A decade ago, the hotel might never have known about this pillow problem and, even if it had, providing a response might not have been possible. Today, thanks to Medallia—the electronic guest-feedback system in use at all Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group properties—the story is very different. “Now we receive almost instantaneous feedback from our guests, and we’re able to respond quickly to thank

them for their comments and address any concerns they raise,” says Michele Donegan, the hotel’s general manager. “In this case, after responding to the guest, I emailed the front-office manager to add an alert to his guest profile so that on his next visit, housekeeping will know to make up the room with a pillow more to the guest’s liking, personalizing the guest’s stay.” At a time when competition is fierce and customers have an array of hotel options, the ability to collect and analyze data on service quality and use that information to deliver a better customer experience is more important than ever. Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group offers its hotels the tools to do just that, and to help managers make the most of them, Jennifer How to use QPR and Medallia data Mawson, director, Standards, to boost guest satisfaction and profits. Compliance and Operations, // By Jennifer Pellet Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel

Service Analytics 40

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Opposite Page: Susan K. Mason, vice president, Franchise Operations, Radisson, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, says hotels’ reporting tools help measure quality.

Group, and Susan K. Mason, vice president, Franchise Operations, Radisson, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, led Business School classes on interpreting guest service data at the company’s 2013 Full Service Brands Business Conference. Principle among these programs are the Guest Satisfaction Index (GSI), a monthly rating of a hotel’s customer satisfaction level determined by data collected through Medallia, and the Quality Performance Review (QPR), an assessment of how successfully the property is meeting Carlson’s performance standards. “These are two separate tools taking two separate measurements, each of which provides a hotel with quantifiable assessments of performance,” says Mawson. “The real payoff comes in the ability to dig into the information that Medallia and QPR reports offer to address problems and measurably improve overall guest satisfaction.” Making the Most of Medallia

Like most hotel managers, Donegan starts every Medallia session by checking for alerts, or survey responses, the system has flagged as needing immediate attention. Then she spends some time responding to guest surveys—the hotel receives as many as 15 a day—thanking guests for feedback and addressing any concerns. She also relies heavily on some of the more recently introduced features. “I love the ‘room ranker by problem type’ tool,” she says, referring to a page that lists rooms by the frequency of guest complaints. Managers can also sort the results by category of complaint—such as the comfort of the bed, amenities in the bathroom or high-speed Internet service—or by keyword so that they can spot problems that might be affecting a particular area within the hotel. “For example, we noticed that of the 20 rooms where we had the most complaints about water pressure in the shower, 80 percent were on the third floor, so now we know it’s a building issue,” explains Donegan. Mason notes that Medallia’s Problem Page is another useful tool for hotel managers looking for ways to reduce the number of problems experienced by hotel guests and improve their success rate in resolving problems. “The Problem Snapshot tool provides a ranking of the hotel’s top problems,” says Mason, who adds that Medallia recently expanded the Problem Page with the Problem

Tree. “It lets managers see the proportion of all guests who reported problems, how many of those problems the hotel attempted to resolve, and whether those resolution efforts exceeded expectations, met expectations or fell short.” Ultimately, Medallia provides customer experience insight that a hotel otherwise would not have, says Donegan. “When a guest praises one of our employees in a survey, we make a point of mentioning that in our morning ‘huddle,’ and we also share comments, good and bad, with employees,” she says. “It helps with employee engagement, and underscores our Yes I Can! SM service standard,” she explains. Leveraging QPR

Like Medallia, QPR provides a wealth of data on how well a hotel is doing at delivering on virtually every aspect of a quality customer experience. In this case, that data is based on a rigorous assessment performed onsite by Carlson Rezidor’s third-party consultants from LRA. However, hotels that make the most of QPR use the Self-Assessment tool, rather than solely viewing the results of assessments, notes Mawson. “The self-assessment tool gives general managers an exact checklist that will be used when the consultant comes, which is a great way for them to prepare for the QPR inspection,” she explains. “They can conduct the entire assessment on their own or break out components and assign them to the relevant supervisor in each area to see where they may be deficient and take steps to address those deficiencies.” (See sidebar, “5 Steps to QPR Self-Assessment Success.”) Once the consultant’s assessment has taken place, in addition to metrics on performance, the resulting report includes a QPR MAP (Management Action Plan), an automatically generated management action plan. “Managers can then assign each area of deficiency and related action to a team member and add a due date. Then as issues are addressed, he or she can add comments and mark the tasks completed,” Mawson explains. Medallia and QPR are tools that can help ensure that hotels meet and exceed the standards for delivering a quality guest experience. “These tools enable managers to take a deep dive into their performance metrics,” sums up Mason. “They can identify the problems they need to address and create meaningful action plans to improve guest service.”

Jennifer Mawson on the 5 Steps to QPR Self-Assessment Success 1. Assign SelfAssessment to property employee using QPR’s automated email. 2. Associate executes assessment and completes online form. 3. Associate submits completed assessment to GM. 4. GM reviews assessment score for deficiencies and assigns appropriate actions to employees to address each issue. 5. GM monitors Self-Assessment results over time.

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Eliminating one load of laundry a day can save 42,000 gallons of water and 900 ccf of gas each year, or $1,200 in utility costs.

100-watt incandescent lamp costs an average of $50 per year if kept on full time.

$ SAVINGS Using Internet-based postal services saved one hotel $ 1,500.

Strategic Moves

Maximizing profits doesn’t require huge investments or major cuts, just a focus on operational efficiency. // By Julie Moline


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hen margins are razor-thin and fixed costs are on the rise, making sure your hotel runs at optimal efficiency is absolutely essential. How to manage that without compromising brand standards or the guest experience is a constant challenge, say Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group experts Scott Deibert, vice president, Strategic Sourcing, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, and Jeffrey Freund, vice president, Owned and Managed Hotels, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. Both also say that opportunities for better margin management are abundant. There are three basic ways to foster operational efficiency: Cut upfront costs by strategic sourcing; boost efficiencies of existing physical resources; and find ways to either mitigate costs or avoid them altogether. Strategic sourcing

Sourcing is all about smart comparison analysis, optimizing the number of suppliers and leveraging economies of scale. One of the easiest ways to do all three is to take advantage of Carlson Rezidor’s global purchasing power. “Buying from our contracted supplier agreements reduces the amount of work a property needs to do,” Freund says. Another idea is to put all your main service contracts out for bid—from small services like payment terminals to major ones like utilities. “Many people don’t realize that there are major rate differences offered by utility companies,” Deibert says. “It may make sense to bring in a consultant to help you compare different supplier options, not just for energy, but for other expense areas.” (See sidebar, “Ask the Experts.”) It is also important to think about total costs when you make purchasing decisions. Buying peeled onions costs more than buying them unpeeled, and bagged lettuce costs more than whole heads. But if there’s an average of 40 percent waste when whole vegetables are prepped, you actually come out ahead—not just because you’re able to use more of what you’ve bought, but because you’ll also save on labor. Boost efficiency

Since labor makes up the majority of a hotel’s fixed costs— typically 40 to 45 percent—according to Freund, this is an area ripe for savings. “It’s most important to keep staffing levels commensurate with demand,” he says. The easiest way to do this is to do a daily check of sales projections. Staff can also identify savings opportunities in their areas. Management can let housekeepers know how much a

dripping faucet or leaky flange costs. Set up a reporting system—ideally one in real-time—so the maintenance staff can react quickly. Likewise, cross-training employees to respond nimbly to staffing needs can provide positive returns. Team members also are a great resource for additional ideas on ways to improve efficiency. Encourage teams and line staff to contribute their thoughts by offering a simple reward. Then be sure to share the outcome of the ideas. A big part of better resource management revolves around practical changes such as shutting down office equipment when it’s not being used. It costs about $195 per year to keep a single color monitor on at night, Deibert says. Installing occupancy sensors, which turn lighting, heating and cooling units on or off based on whether a person is present in a room, can reduce energy costs by as much as 50 percent. A change from incandescent light bulbs to LEDs or CFLs will not only save on electricity, but also will generate 74 percent less heat. That means less energy is required for cooling. Other savings can be achieved by closing blackout curtains at night in winter to reduce heat loss by 30 percent and investing in ENERGY STAR®-rated appliances. An energy-efficient commercial refrigerator can reduce electricity bills by 35 percent a year, for example, making payback only 1.3 years. Cost avoidance

One of the best ways to boost profits is to invest in preventive maintenance. Even something as simple as keeping traps and filters clean, maintaining the proper temperature for hot water and ensuring proper calibration on HVAC systems can save thousands of dollars each year. There is more than a little truth to the old adage, “You get what you pay for.” Spending more at the outset for better quality means less frequent repair and replacement in the long term. That holds just as true for small items, like towels, as it does for furniture and appliances. Refreshing rooms and guest areas is another economical way to boost profits. For instance, guest room pillows cost one-third less to refresh than to replace. Another way to save is by reducing waste. Hotels can save 20 to 30 percent on haulage bills by donating surplus food. “Overall, many ideas for increasing efficiency and saving money don’t necessarily require huge investments or draconian cost-cutting,” says Deibert. “A series of small, practical strategies can lead to significant results.”

Ask the Experts Don’t hesitate to ask suppliers for their ideas on ways to improve your efficiency, advises Jeffrey Freund, vice president, Owned and Managed Hotels, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. Food distributors can advise on menu management, and your local utility can help with conservation efforts. Some utility companies will also help with energy and water usage audits and steer you to incentives that will help defray the cost of new equipment. Consultants are another option. “Energy management companies can help generate unit cost reductions from 5 to 15 percent,” Freund says.

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ith 2013 in full swing, the Park Inn by Radisson brand is pushing forward into the next generation: acquiring new hotels, attracting targeted travelers and increasing revenue. To guarantee continued growth and to appeal to a younger consumer, the brand understands it must look to the future. MORE WELCOME MATS

Advancing, Enhancing

New properties and a sharpened brand focus are propelling Park Inn by Radisson ahead. // By Marie Barr


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The brand is growing stronger in the Americas with the addition of four new properties. In 2012, the brand welcomed the Park Inn by Radisson Fresno and Park Inn by Radisson Covina in California. “Both of the hotels we opened last year in Covina and Fresno are good for us because they are our first hotels on the West Coast,” says Sharon Wendland, vice president, Operations, Park Inn by Radisson, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. In February, the 125-room Park Inn by Radisson San José opened in Costa Rica. The hotel, ideal for business and leisure travelers, brought the first RBG Bar & Grill to Latin America. The hotel also offers lighter fare at its Graffiti Pool Lounge. Room amenities include flat-screen televisions; complimentary, high-speed Internet access; mini-bars; safe-deposit boxes; and orthopedic mattresses with a selection of pillows. There is an on-site fitness center, an outdoor pool with solar heating, a 24-hour business center, a convenience store, 24-hour room service and convenient, underground parking. The brand continued its expansion in the Americas with the March 2013 opening of the 170-room Park Inn by Radisson Toronto–Markham in Ontario, Canada. The newly renovated hotel offers Legends Lounge and Grill, as well as robust meeting and convention space and recreational facilities that include an indoor pool, a fitness center, a whirlpool and a sauna. THE NEXT GENERATION

The Park Inn by Radisson brand has become quite established in Europe and continues to grow rapidly. “Our leadership in Europe understands the need for the brand to evolve and keep up with the core expectations of younger consumers,” says Wendland. “They’ve developed new prototypes, which, although they aren’t necessarily imminent for the Americas, provide an inspiring look that may someday influence the design of hotels here.” That starts with mastering the essentials, like a great sleep experience, top-notch food and beverage, quality menu options and great service. “We want to provide the basics


P ho t o gr ap h y c o u rt es y o f C ar l s on R e z i do r Ho t el Gr oup

Opposite Page: Exterior of the Park Inn by Radisson San José, Costa Rica. This Page, Clockwise from Top Left: Sharon Wendland, vice president, Operations, Park Inn by Radisson, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group; San José’s Graffiti Pool Lounge; guest room at the Costa Rica property; the San José RBG.

with some creativity, while at the same time offering our guests choices and remaining flexible,” she says. For example, in the future, guests will enjoy automated self check-in and checkout and e-concierge services. The brand is also tailoring its public image to reflect a new focus on younger guests. The visual identity of the Park Inn by Radisson brand as it relates to marketing and advertising, both in print advertising and social media outlets, is evolving to appeal to younger travelers. INCREASING RETURNS

Opening hotels in targeted locations and offering choices that appeal to younger guests mean increased revenue opportunities. To that end, Carlson Rezidor is making it easier for owners and managers to capture more of that revenue at their individual properties. First, the brand updated its Local Advertising Reimbursement (LAR) program. Previously, if hotels followed the reimbursement program guidelines, they were reimbursed

up to $4,000 each year for approved local marketing. “We’re changing that in 2013,” Wendland says. “The new model will result in significant reimbursements for larger hotels doing a significant amount of local area marketing.” A second marketing strategy enhancement comes from the brand’s commitment to transition to a uniform Carlson Rezidor Web platform. “This is great for our hotels because now all the enhancements that have been rolled out, in terms of reservations for other Carlson Rezidor hotel brands, will apply to the Park Inn by Radisson brand as well,” Wendland says. Going forward, the Park Inn by Radisson website will have streamlined booking capabilities, improving customer satisfaction. “Right now if I’m a Club CarlsonSM member on the site, I don’t have the option of redeeming points immediately as I’m booking a room,” she says. “Once this project is complete, it will recognize me, and I’ll have the option of using points to pay for the room.”

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Full Service Honors

radisson® & Park Inn by Radisson RECOGNIZE 2012 AWARD WINNERS. Radisson Renovation Awards: Hotel Cali / Hotel Fisherman’s Wharf / Hotel Lansing at the Capitol / Hotel New Rochelle / Hotel Paraiso Mexico City / Hotel Rochester Riverside / Hotel Salt Lake City Downtown / Hotel Santa Maria / Hotel Sao Paulo Faria Lima / Hotel Sudbury / Plaza Hotel at Kalamazoo Center; Radisson Yes I Can! SM Awards: Hotel Corning / Hotel La Crosse; Radisson New Hotel of the Year Award: Hotel Maiorana Belem; Radisson Responsible Business Award: Poliforum Plaza Hotel Leon; Radisson President’s Awards: Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago / Europa Hotel & Conference Center / Fort McDowell Resort & Casino / Hotel & Conference Center Green Bay / Hotel & Conference Center Kenosha / Hotel & Suites Fallsview / Hotel Branson / Hotel Colonia del Sacramento / Hotel Colorado Springs Airport / Hotel Corning / Hotel El Paso Airport / Hotel Flamingos, Mexico City / Hotel La Crosse / Hotel Manchester Downtown / Hotel Orlando–Lake Buena Vista / Hotel Phoenix Airport / Hotel Portland Airport / Hotel San Isidro / Hotel Saskatoon / Hotel Vancouver Airport / Hotel Yuma / Petra la Dehesa Hotel / Plaza

Hotel at Kalamazoo Center / Plaza Hotel Minneapolis / Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan, Regina / Plaza Santiago Hotel / Poliforum Plaza Hotel Leon / Radisson on John Deere Commons–Moline / Radisson Suites Tucson / Royal Hotel Cali / Summit Hotel & Golf Panama; Park Inn by Radisson Special Achievement of the Year: Vancouver; Park Inn by Radisson Adding Color to Life SM Award: DFW Airport South, TX. Row 1 (left to right) Note not all award winners pictured. | Kim Roy, general manager, Radisson Hotel Manchester / Rosa Maria Martinez, general manager, Radisson Flamingos Mexico City / Karen Stank, general manager, Radisson Hotel Maiorana Belem / Adriana Savino, general manager, Radisson Royal Hotel Cali / Bert Parra, general manager, Radisson Fort McDowell / Camillo Navas, general manager, Radisson Plaza Santiago Hotel / Denise Rizo, director of sales, Radisson Poliforum Plaza Hotel Leon / Eduardo Davila, general manager, Chile / Evan Fuller, general manager, Radisson Hotel Yuma / Francisco Lorente, general manager, Radisson Hotel Colonia del Sacramento /

Janet Reid, revenue and reservations manager, Radisson Decapolis, Panama / Jay Campbell, general manager, Radisson Hotel Branson; Row 2 (left to right) | Zan Wagner, general manager, Radisson Hotel Colorado Springs Airport / Estaban Mondaca, hotel manager, Radisson Petra La Dehesa / PierreLouis Giacotto, general manager, Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago / Becky Fields, general manager, Radisson Hotel Portland Airport / Bryan Johnson, general manager, Radisson Hotel Lansing at the Capitol / Caroline Mackenzie, director, sales and marketing, Chile / Denise Grosser-Welch, front office manager, Kalamazoo, MI / Eric Bourdales, general manager, Radisson Poliforum Plaza Hotel Leon / David Yordy, general manager, Radisson on John Deere Commons–Moline / Greg Horeth, regional vice president, Radisson Hotel Lansing at the Capitol / Jared Helgin, general manager, Radisson Hotel & Conference Center Kenosha / Jean-Luc Garon, general manager, Radisson Hotel Santa Maria; Row 3 (left to right) | Dawn Miller, front desk associate, Park Inn by Radisson, Sharon, PA / John Sevilla, general manager, Radisson Hotel Fisherman’s Wharf / Kevin Buck, general manager, Radisson Suites Tucson / Kristina Schneider, director, sales and marketing, Radisson Hotel Corning /

Mariana Dettino, general manager, Radisson Hotel Sao Paulo Faria Lima / Matthew Pica, chief operations officer, GF Management, Inc. / Patty Schweighardt, general manager, Radisson Hotel Saskatoon / Rob Smith, general manager, Radisson Plaza Hotel Minneapolis / Shelley Kemp, general manager, Radisson Hotel & Suites Fallsview / Ted Trembath, regional general manager, Radisson Hotel Phoenix Airport / Terry Novalis, general manager, Radisson Hotel Orlando–Lake Buena Vista / Tim Rayman, general manager, Radisson Plaza Hotel at Kalamazoo Center; Row 4 (left to right) | Johnny Riba, general manager, Radisson Europa Hotel / Michele Donegan, general manager, Radisson Hotel Corning / Kevin White, owner, A/PORT LLC, Radisson Hotel Portland Airport / Manuel Castro, general manager, Radisson Summit Hotel & Golf Panama / Marla Preston, general manager, Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan / Michael Marsch, general manager, Radisson Hotel Rochester Riverside / Rhonda Hausman, general manager, Radisson Hotel New Rochelle / Sally Naidu, general manager, Park Inn by Radisson DFW Airport South, TX / Steve Vallevand, regional vice president, SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts, Radisson Hotel Saskatoon / Terri Pinter, director of sales, Radisson Hotel La Crosse / Tim Blaschke, general manager, Radisson Hotel La Crosse.

Final Fete

a special night to honor winners. The last night of the 2013 Full Service Brands Business Conference concluded with a gala event recognizing award recipients. From the elegant setting at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago, to the ritual of the Carlson family toast, to the sumptuous dinner, it was an evening of celebration—the perfect conclusion to yet another successful learning experience.


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FULL SERVICE HONORS Employee of the Year

Employee of the Year

Banquet Houseman

Front Desk Associate

Pasoto Odwar Radisson Hotel Nashville Airport

Dawn Miller

Park Inn by Radisson Sharon, Pennsylvania

General Manager of the Year Zan Wagner

Hotel of the Year

General Manager Radisson Hotel Colorado Springs

Patty Schweighardt General Manager Radisson Hotel Saskatoon, Canada

Top Performers

Honoring the very best from the full service brands. One of the highlights of the Carlson Rezidor Full Service Brands Business Conference was the recognition of 2012’s outstanding hotels, general managers and employees. The Radisson Hotel Saskatoon took home Radisson Hotel of the Year honors for sky-high guest satisfaction, employee engagement and revenue generation scores. Pasoto Odwar, who started a foundation that helps schools in his native Sudan, received the Radisson brand’s top employee award after 13 years of outstanding achievement. Park Inn by Radisson Employee of the Year Dawn Miller won for exemplary guest service over her 32-year career. And Zan Wagner, a 25-year veteran, nabbed this year’s top Radisson general manager award for leading by example and driving hotel performance.


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together we go further

As radisson continues to move forward, our success is dependent on many factors – especially you! Your dedication and commitment to our Yes I Can!SM philosophy – the passion for ensuring the total wellbeing and satisfaction of every one of our guests – is what makes us stand out from the crowd. ever positive, smiling and professional, Yes I Can! SM goes beyond just a phrase. It’s our business ethos and service ethic. It’s our philosophy, and is the beating heart of radisson. we’re upbeat and pro-active – always going the extra mile for our guests – and that’s how we make a difference. with Yes I Can! SM, radisson goes further. +1 (800) 333-3333

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MODERN DECADENCE Step inside the Radisson Blu Mall of America and walk on the “Wow” side.

By Deborah M. Bernstein | Photograp hy By Jeff Johnson & Kyle Smith

a majestic, blue-lit escalator and iconic grand staircase in front of the dramatic wall beckon visitors into the heart of the hotel. Above, an open cutout area provides a view into carlson rezidor’s newest firelake restaurant.


agical, mesmerizing and memorable. The much-anticipated Radisson Blu Mall of America opened its doors March 15 at the famous Mall of America® in Bloomington, Minn. The newest Carlson Rezidor flagship is the first and only hotel connected to the mall, and the second Blu in the U.S. “It’s a cutting-edge property that sets a benchmark for Carlson Rezidor in the Americas, and the hotel industry overall,” says Thorsten Kirschke, president, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. “This upper-upscale hotel is the newest jewel in our crown, and would be at home in London, Paris, New York or any major metropolis. Luckily, it’s in our own backyard.” “I can guarantee you’ve never seen anything like it,” adds Gordon McKinnon, executive vice president and chief branding officer, Carlson. This cool “blu” masterpiece starts with a spectacular architectural feature: a dramatic Krion™ wall bathed in light. Jim Hamilton of Graven Images, the hotel’s designer, says the wall—which forms the backdrop for the twostory lobby—pays reverence to the 4.2-million-square-foot mall, visited by more than 40 million people a year. “Krion is by its nature a very crisp


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material, which has a luster akin to porcelain,” he explains. “We have modeled the bespoke individual panels into a massive multifaceted sculptural installation. It evokes a cool, pristine shopping bag.” A majestic, blue-lit escalator and iconic grand staircase in front of the dramatic wall beckon visitors into the heart of the hotel. Above, an open cutout area provides a view into Carlson Rezidor’s newest FireLake restaurant. (See page 60.) FIRELAKE TO FIREFLIES The local landscape was the inspiration behind many design features, including a series of tiny windows of varying sizes situated on either side of the entrance courtyard façade. The seemingly randomly placed windows glow like summer fireflies against the night sky to welcome visitors and give the building an alluring and mystical light. “I love the idea of the mall being this incredible magnet to draw people from all over the globe, a bit like a firefly’s use of bioluminescence,” says Hamilton. “When it turns from day to night, the second-floor lobby lighting illuminates the tiny windows to the street, bringing the fireflies to life.” To the left of the ground floor entrance, a dramatic fireplace welcomes guests, who can relax

in oversized, handcrafted DEDON NestRest chairs suspended by cables from the nearly 40-foot-high ceiling. Hotel staff and designers expect photos of the oversized chairs, which resemble enormous birds’ nests, to show up on social media sites around the world. “It’s just about fun,” says McKinnon. “You can get lost in those chairs,” adds General Manager Harry Gorstayn with a smile. “It will be one of those memorable moments where guests will get their picture taken and people will ask, ‘Where were you? Where did you stay?’ It’s very cool.” Below the chairs is a one-of-a-kind rug with the lakes of Minnesota woven into the design. Hamilton admits a fascination with views from airplane windows as he flies around the globe. He dreamed up a similar topographical design for Chicago’s Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. Attention to detail and innovation are a hallmark of his designs, which literally weave in unique features of a destination. “Minnesota is the land of lakes,” Hamilton says. “From the air, the unusual ground patterns are quite unique. These colors and shapes have been abstracted into a vibrant rug that sits below the Nest loungers. When viewed from the second-floor lobby, it gives an abstract impression of the Minnesotan landscape.” Hamilton brings other touches of whimsy. Carpeting in areas leading to meeting rooms and the boardroom is conservative and blue-striped. Inside the rooms, it’s another story, with Scandinavian design, abstract floor covering and colorful chairs. The thought is to leave traditional thinking in the hall and bring creativity into the meeting rooms.

From Top, Clockwise: A series of Minnesota summer firefly-inspired windows twinkle and beckon guests at night; the Radisson Blu Mall of America art gallery, a signature element carried over from Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago; a dramatic lobby fireplace provides a backdrop for warmth and relaxation; the hotel’s signature chairs set a scene for elegant reposition.

Cerebral Countenance. No part of the elegant look of the hotel was created by accident, say Radisson Blu Mall of America designers. Inside and out, the thought-provoking style stimulates certain moods in visitors at all points of the guest experience. From modern exterior lighting to an in-house art gallery to gathering spaces that spark conversation, the space is at once cool and modern, warm and inviting.



Contemporary, yet filled with creature comforts, the Radisson Blu Mall of America features pops of color throughout its graciously sized suites.


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Ready for Business. Meeting planners will discover that some mall stores can open early by special arrangement for events. Mall of America® offers a selection of breakout rooms, and there are 14 separate theaters that can host meetings for 140 to 300, a comedy club that can be rented for breakfast or events, and even Nickelodeon Universe® and the SeaLife™ aquarium, which can host special events or simply be the site for a mid-morning coffee break or afternoon reception.


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“The Scandinavian design influence can be traced back to Arne Jacobsen’s iconic Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Copenhagen,” explains Hamilton. “The world-famous Swan and Egg chairs were designed specifically for The Royal in 1959. Both chairs have been used in Radisson hotels throughout Europe, and we have continued that brand association by using a unique, colorful version of the Swan chair within the boardroom at Mall of America.” MEET ME IN MINNEAPOLIS The Radisson Blu Mall of America is an event planner’s dream, with 26,000 square feet of function space, including two ballrooms, 13 meeting rooms and a boardroom. There’s a saltwater swimming pool, a state-of-the-art fitness room and a concierge center. “The Twin Cities is the unique moniker for Minneapolis and St. Paul,” Hamilton says. “This characteristic, symbolized by an abstract double-helix DNA, is the inspiration behind the carpet pattern in the ballrooms. It also symbolizes the close bond between two parties that have been the driving force in the project: Carlson and Mortenson in their respective roles as joint developers.” There’s even a public space design, which was launched at Radisson Blu Aqua and developed into part of the brand’s DNA: an art gallery concept. The space includes a communal table with a collection of individual, iconic designer chairs—all red. The pop of color offers a stark contrast to the white Krion table and walls. Guests can charge their smartphones, computers or other electronic equipment. There’s a concierge with iPads where guests can check their mail or

From Top, Clockwise: The open and airy check-in sets the stage for the hotel’s unique feel. Even the walkways of the Radisson Blu Mall of America were carefully thought-out to reflect the tone of the brand, while reinforcing the property’s overarching design aesthetic. Every point of guest contact, including the concierge, is designed to be an exemplary experience.

The Radisson Blu Mall of America is an event planner’s dream, with 26,000 square feet of function space, including two ballrooms, 13 meeting rooms and a boardroom. surf the Internet. “The environment is friendly,” says Marilyn Miller, director of Sales and Marketing for Radisson Blu Mall of America. “Guests can interact with fellow travelers or they can interact with staff. Guests in Business Class rooms can sign out iPads. They can take them to their rooms and continue working.” For added convenience, the hotel is connected to downtown Minneapolis, the airport and the Metrodome via light rail, and there are also shuttle services to and from the airport. “People arriving at the airport don’t even need to take their coats off,” says Miller. There are other technology features such as key cards that restrict access to floors, a safety feature that is especially attractive for the single traveler. In the hotel room, guests will find everything they need at the touch of a finger—from a digital guest information directory to restaurant menus and television listings, all easily accessed from their television. “We’re going after technology with a human touch,” adds Gorstayn. “We’re serving the corporate traveler or business executive who comes in Monday or Tuesday, travels to the corporate buildings and flies back,” he says. “We’re also looking for weekend business ... people who drive in and want to come in and shop at Mall of America and relax at the hotel.” GRAND EXPERIENCES Gorstayn and his team also expect international tourists and shoppers from coast to coast. “We’re working closely with the Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau,” he says. “Now that there are

direct flights from Paris, we’re trying to get the French to come in. We’re also targeting Asian business. The Mall of America marketing team goes there two or three times a year just to promote the area.” The hotel has created a variety of special packages, including a shopping package—a natural fit between the property and the mall. “You can go and shop, and you don’t have to carry one bag,” explains Gorstayn. “You can call our concierge, and he’ll arrange to have your shopping bags picked up and taken back to your room.” There are even plans for a Black Friday experience, with mall doors opening at 2 o’clock in the morning, so guests can be among the first shoppers. Catering to the millions of families who come to the mall each year, the hotel will set up tents in suites and provide stepstools so children can reach room sinks. The staff will even provide crayons that dissolve in water for a colorful bath adventure. Gorstayn says it’s all about making a guest’s experience as special as it can be. Opening the hotel also will be memorable for Gorstayn and his team. The former luxury hotel general manager says the attraction of starting a hotel from scratch was the reason he moved to Minneapolis. “It’s a chance to teach staff from day one the importance of exemplary service.” “Anyone can run a building,” he adds, “but the people inside make the difference. We have an excellent staff with Yes I Can! attitude. They are making memories every day.”

Going the Distance Harry Gorstayn on the importance of attending to detail. “For business travelers, we have free WiFi in our shuttles to the hotel. None of our competitors have that. It’s all of these little touches that make all the difference.”

Full of Possibility Marilyn Miller on the hotel’s appeal as an event destination. “For event and meeting planners, the options at the hotel are amazing— and nearly endless. We are blazing the trail at Mall of America. This is groundbreaking.”

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NaturalF Photograp hy By Jeff Johnson & Josh Grubbs

The eclectic FireLake at Mall of America mixes local sensibility

Eat Local Inspired by their surroundings, each FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar features local ingredients among its menu items.


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Flare By Deborah M. Bernstein

with international ĂŠlan.

Javier Rosenberg chief operating officer, Radisson, and executive vice president, Owned and Managed Hotels, Americas, Carlson Rezidor

the restaurant is a study in contrasts, combining an eclectic mix of contemporary, sophisticated and industrial elements with a timeless and comfortable décor.


t Minnesota’s Mall of America®, travelers to this global shopping destination are discovering a new farm-to-table culinary experience that pays tribute to the best the state has to offer. FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar, the bastion of fine food and understated elegance in the Radisson Plaza Hotel Minneapolis, has expanded to the Radisson Blu Mall of America. “It’s very special,” says Gordon McKinnon, executive vice president and chief branding officer, Carlson. “It has a confidence about it and a real sense of place in every way. It’s a model for great design, great food, great wine and, of course, great service, coming together to create a complete experience.” “FireLake, in its name, says who and what the restaurant is,” adds Chef Paul Lynch. “It’s a restaurant about fire and flavor. It has the best regional, local ingredients prepared over real, burning wood from the land of 10,000 lakes—simple and straightforward, just as we are as Midwesterners.” CHIC MIX

Attached to the Mall of America’s second floor by a skyway protecting diners from any inclement weather, the restaurant design is a study in contrasts, combining an eclectic mix of contemporary, sophisticated and


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industrial elements with a timeless and comfortable décor. Recycled oak wall and ceiling paneling from Minnesota barns with a subtle silver finish sets the tone as oversized Estadio iron, zinc and glass block chandeliers and inlaid encaustic floor tiles beckon diners into FireLake. Sophisticated furniture, with uncluttered, clean lines, is juxtaposed against unique metal curtains with turquoise velvet inlays. A sleek, poured concrete bar commemorates Minneapolis’ industrial past. Ahead, soft sunlight is filtered through the restaurant’s back wall of windows, providing the only dining with natural light in the Mall. At the back of the restaurant, a dramatic, open kitchen is bookended by a brick oven and a rotisserie grill. There, framed by a multilevel copperframed servery, cooks work their magic daily as one sumptuous dish after another appears. “Diners will see the dance of the cooks as they’re playing with the flames of the rotisserie and everything behind this sort of copper shade,” says Lynch. In a nod to the area’s agricultural history, rustic wood recycled from Minnesota barns adorns the majority of walls, beams, columns and ceilings. Interior designer Jim Hamilton, who designed the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago, says the reclaimed timbers were perfect because of their

texture and color tones. “We had the wood sawed and dressed into clean, straight and smooth planks,” he says. “This allows it to sit side by side with more contemporary materials in an interesting mix—it’s created a cool little corner of Minnesota culture with a very modern twist.” INTO THE FIRE

If the thought of dining at a mall sounds less than tempting, FireLake will change your mind. Forget about fast food, chain restaurants and dreary dining—FireLake is unlike any mall restaurant you’ve ever seen. Chef Lynch calls FireLake a taste of place. “A defining aspect of any culture is its food,” says Lynch. “Most travelers want to discover the taste and regional cuisine of the places they visit. We sit in the breadbasket of America. We have outstanding ranchers, growers, dairymen and farmers and access to this plethora of truly outstanding raw ingredients. Minnesota produces it, so let’s showcase it.” FireLake’s menu is brimming with Minnesota-inspired foods and flavors. Highlights include Minnesota-raised rosemary chicken, heirloom corncrusted walleye from the Red Lake Nation Indian reservation, baconwrapped Eichten’s buffalo ribeye with FireLake’s signature steak sauce, and potatoes mixed with Minnesota AmaBlu cheese. Flavored by the flame are such dishes as flatiron steak frites, 1881 certified Hereford beef with Northwoods grilling spice and hand-cut fries, Webster City striped bass with grilled ratatouille and purgatory red

Clockwise, From Top Left: The oversized iron chandeliers invite guests into FireLake. The menu’s charcuterie plate offers tempting bites. The uncluttered interior crafted from wood and concrete reflects the region’s past. Chef Paul Lynch is passionate about the Midwestern-inspired menu. The attention to detail extends to the vintagelooking bottles used to serve water to guests.

sauce and hardwood-grilled salmon filet with tomato basil relish. Another popular dish is rotisserie prime rib and popovers. The beverage team at FireLake selected wines and beers to complement the wood-grilled menu, the charcuterie, small plates, house-cured meats, handcrafted sausages and hand-cut frites that are the mainstay of the Cocktail Bar’s menu. In addition to wines by the glass, half-bottle or bottle is a selection of 16 local microbrew beers on draft. Top it all off with an Amish maltedchocolate peanut butter pie, dark chocolate truffle tart with hazelnut praline and salted caramel or a peach rhubarb cobbler with buttermilk ice cream, all with a perfect range of coffees to complement them. It’s a sweet ending to a perfect meal. EXPANDING CONCEPT

While FireLake is physically located in Radisson Blu Mall of America, it caters to an audience much larger than just the hotel clientele and is run as a separate entity. “The outside market is what drives profitability for a restaurant,” explains Christer Larsson, vice president, Food and Beverage, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. “You can’t carry a restaurant with hotel guests alone. You have to find an audience. We design all of our restaurants with that in mind. They have their own management teams. They have to have an identity separate from the hotel.” Carlson Rezidor’s guests can expect to see more FireLake restaurants in the Americas, Larsson says. “The concept would be in a Radisson Blu,” he adds, “but it’s also open to any franchise owner who is interested in having it in their hotel. It definitely makes Carlson Rezidor more attractive. As part of the other restaurant concepts we offer—Filini and RBG—it’s a great complement because it’s different, but it still fits well with our portfolio of restaurant concepts.” 2 0 1 3 | TH E C ON FEREN C E ISSU E


ATTENDEES GATHERED TO SAY IS OUR The 2013 Country Inns & Suites Business Conference in Miami celebrated not only the brand’s many successes over the past year, but also looked to its bright future. Sessions focused on a range of topics—from increasing sales to managing today’s workforce to improving revenue through social media. A new brand identity was unveiled, further highlighting the continuing evolution of the Country Inns & Suites brand.



“I am so excited

for Country Inns & Suites. The design is strong, smart and progressive.” —Genevieve Gorder, HGTV star, commenting on the brand’s new generation hotel prototype

Scott Meyer senior vice president, Midscale Brands, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group


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PROUD to be Interview By Marie Barr

Country Country Inns & Suites’ Scott Meyer shows how hotels can exceed expectations in 2013.


ith all the good news to report from Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM—increased revenue, a contemporary approach to a classic aesthetic and new brand imaging—Scott Meyer is a busy man. At this year’s Country Inns & Suites Business Conference, the senior vice president of Midscale Brands, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, outlined a list of accomplishments and the brand’s five priorities for 2013, which include engaging the organization, growing distribution, increasing Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR), raising quality and improving owner return on investment. Hotline bent Meyer’s ear to learn how the brand achieved such success in 2012, the Country Inns & Suites brand’s plans for propelling that success forward and the role each employee plays along the way. HOTLINE I You’ve emphasized that “engaging the organization” is the brand’s first priority for 2013. What does that mean? MEYER I It means we have to have the right people in the right places. It means that every employee—from front-desk associate to housekeeper to maintenance engineer—has to embrace our service culture. 

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Programs like Be Our Guest establish the foundation of our service culture with employees. I love it when I walk into one of our hotels and congratulate an employee for earning a Be Our Guest pin, and they take the time to share some of their wonderful guest experiences with me. What is even more inspiring is that most of our employees know exactly how many recognitions they need to earn the next pin level. We have 4,600 employees who have earned the red pin, 2,800 the black, 900 the blue, 432 the silver and 57 who have earned the highest honor of the gold pin. These employees reflect the personality of the brand, and our guests get to experience their service hearts every day. Q I Why does engagement top the priority list? A I Without engagement, we cannot succeed in other areas.

“Having a clean, well-maintained and brand-standard-compliant hotel drives revenue.” Not only does it pay off in guest satisfaction, it also results in profitability through better performance. At this year’s conference, we recognized 41 Be Our Guest award-winning hotels and 81 President’s Award-winning hotels. These hotels are shining examples of properties that have a high level of engagement, and the result is a Guest Satisfaction Index (GSI) of 9.06 and a Revenue Generation Index (RGI) that is seven points higher than the rest of the brand. Q I How are you growing distribution? A I Our brand’s new identity is the catalyst. The week following our conference, I attended the Hunter and Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) conferences for franchisees, developers and owners. The amount of interest in the development community was incredible. So many people came up to me and said, ‘Wow, your new logo and product design is so contemporary and sleek. It really draws me in.’ This new look goes hand in hand with distribution. People see the new branding and it increases their interest in potential development. Q I We hear a lot about increasing RevPAR. What is Country Inns & Suites doing to boost that number? A I We have a number of success stories. First, we have


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added 15 additional sales team members over the past two years. More people out on the street leads to increased revenue: Global sales revenue was up 28 percent in 2012, and the brand sales team’s revenue was up 101 percent. Second, revenue delivered by our partnership with Carlson Wagonlit Travel increased 5 percent. Third, the new Preferred Corporate Rate (PCR) program showed significant increases in revenue. Next, we launched multiple weekly email campaigns that drove more than $19 million back to hotels. Finally, we launched three promotions last year. Total revenue generated by these was more than $8.7 million. Revenue optimization tools contribute, too. In 2012, more properties used the Stay Night Automated Pricing (SNAP) tool than ever before. They are using it effectively and are seeing increased revenue as a result. But SNAP is just one of the tools available to hotels to help grow revenue. (For more on Revenue Optimization, see page 22.) Q I Carlson Rezidor made an approximate $12 million investment in websites and mobile applications. How has that investment paid off? A I Web revenue is up 9 percent and conversion is up 10. The numbers for mobile are even more exciting: Mobile traffic is up 153 percent and mobile revenue is up 122 percent. In fact, our mobile bookings make up about 7 percent of our total Web revenue. In the future, we know mobile will become an even bigger delivery system for revenues. Q I How did Club CarlsonSM fuel revenue growth in 2012? A I Worldwide, Club Carlson membership grew 24 percent last year. Just for our brand, room revenue grew to approximately $250 million, a 6 percent increase over 2011. Room nights grew to 2.8 million, also a 6 percent increase. And share of occupancy at the end of the year was 34.6 percent, an improvement over last year. We also launched Club Carlson for Business, and already we have more than 2,500 companies enrolled. Those companies generated 60,000 room nights and $6.7 million in room revenue. Most of that is mid-week business, so it has been a very effective program. Q I GSI took a slight hit in 2012. Has that improved? A I We look at the GSI to measure our customer loyalty and revenue. Satisfaction can have a major impact on revenue; we know that hotels in the top 20 percent of GSI drive significantly more revenue than those in the bottom 20 percent. After five years of steady growth in GSI, we saw a plateau and even a slight downturn in 2011. Unfortunately, in 2012


the score decreased another .02, and we finished the year at 8.7. It’s a good thing that we’re continuing to see more guests in our hotels and are able to raise our rates—but with that comes heightened guest expectations. Q I Let’s talk more about quality. How did the brand perform overall on Quality Performance Reviews (QPRs)? A I Having a clean, well-maintained and brand-standardcompliant hotel drives revenue. Last year, our overall consistency improved as measured by the QPRs. Cleanliness scores increased to 91.2 percent, condition improved to 85.9 percent, and we saw the biggest increase in brand standards at 81 percent. Hotels that pass all three sections had a RevPAR that was 13 percent higher than those hotels that failed a section of the QPR. And the RevPAR of those hotels that passed all three sections was 27 percent higher than those that failed all three sections. For those hotels that did not pass all three sections of the QPR, that is a lot of revenue left on the table.

From Top, Clockwise: The breakfast room reflects the welcoming hub of a home and is a multi-use space where guests can enjoy our Be Our Guest Breakfast, a midday cup of coffee or just get a little work done. The king suite offers separate sleeping and living areas and an abundance of space, perfect for business travelers who need to spread out or families with children. A comfortable bed, dressed to feel soft and look welcoming, serves as the focal point of the standard king room; color pattern and eclectic furnishings add character and visual interest.

Q I How can hotel owners improve their Return On Investment (ROI)? A I There are two ways to impact ROI: You increase topline revenue, and you effectively manage expenses. Top-line revenue successes come in the form of global and brand sales, e-commerce, revenue optimization, loyalty and guest satisfaction. Hotel owners can manage their expenses by running an efficient operation. Each owner should ask him or herself: How am I managing labor; how am I managing energy consumption; how am I managing food costs, as an example? Country Inns & Suites is committed to helping hotels improve their profitability in 2013. Revinate, the social monitoring tool, will be free to all hotels for the remainder of the year. We will match paid search spend dollar for dollar for the remainder of the year. We reduced the cost of products ordered through Data Source by 6 percent. We now provide a toll-free number to your hospitality support specialists. Later this year, we will provide new tools for managers to help manage their profitability, so stay tuned! Q I How are hotels accountable for the guest experience? A I We may not be able to control what is going on around our hotels, such as new development, road construction, plants closing or sometimes just the weather. But you and your team are in control of the experience your guest has once they walk in the front door. Own the experience, be accountable and serve with caring. 2 0 1 3 | TH E C ON FEREN C E ISSU E




ea Rev


Country Inns & Suites unveils an exciting new brand identity and its modern Generation 4 prototype. The goal? Tempting the travelers of tomorrow—and today. // By Deborah M. Bernstein

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ravelers who believe “there’s no place like home” may have a change of heart when they discover the new and improved Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM. The brand’s exciting and “revved up” evolution was unveiled at the brand’s 2013 Business Conference in Miami. MODERN LOOK The “new” Country is the result of extensive research and redesign. It gives the upper-midscale brand a contemporary sophistication that will not only broaden consumer appeal, but also enhance development opportunities in key urban markets.


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“It’s a complete breath of fresh air for Country. It’s a whole new generation and the competitive set should be shaking,” explains Gordon McKinnon, executive vice president and chief branding officer, Carlson. There’s a new logo, brand graphic identity, hotel architecture and interior décor. The goal is to strengthen the brand’s uppermidscale footing and optimize revenue opportunities for owners. “People are prepared to pay more if they get more in return,” McKinnon says. “We’re absolutely convinced we’ve got this right, and we’re totally committed to it.”


A Fresh Face elebrity interior designer Genevieve Gorder has given her stamp of approval to the new generation of Country that debuted in March. Gorder, designer and host of Dear Genevieve, Design Star and Genevieve’s Renovation on HGTV, says she is excited for the brand. “Every single detail has been touched and talked about, which makes this project so incredibly exciting,” she says. “It’s a really positive change. I think the design decisions that were made are strong—and they’re smart and progressive. And everybody, no matter where you are in the Property Improvement Plan, should be getting ready. You should be getting excited. You’re going to be overwhelmed, but it’s worth it, because it’s really beautiful.” The aesthetic aims to attract the new generation of younger families and business travelers who have a different set of expectations for upper-midscale hotels. Gorder feels that Gen X and Y have grown up with a different design palette, involving more natural textures and subtler colors paired with bold pops. “We are more well-traveled than we were 20 years ago,” says Gorder. “Our expectations of what a hotel room should deliver are much higher. Upper midscale has to step it up so it doesn’t become low end.” Gorder finds the new Gen 4 guest room both fresh and familiar. “It has all of these homey, warm textures introduced in the common spaces. Then you come into the bathroom, which has a very modern feel,” she says. “It isn’t something you feel like you’ve seen a million times in other upper-midscale hotels.” Gorder is excited about the new partnership and the quality of people she has the opportunity to work with. “It’s limitless,” she says. “I’m very picky about my relationships—we spend so much of our time working—so I’m inspired to think this is the way upper-midscale hotels are going and that Carlson Rezidor is leading the way.”

FEELS LIKE HOME The brand has always spoken a language of comfort and home, according to Jim Grimshaw, senior director, Brand Program Development, Midscale Brands, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, but is changing to better reflect what feels like home for today’s consumer. “We wanted to design an experience that’s a catalyst to evolve our brand,” he says. “Continued renovations are key to our future success.” “We have exterior design options for developers, with solutions for suburban and secondary markets, as well as one for urban markets and larger markets,” adds Grimshaw. “It’s an important strategy to help us go after city-center locations. And we know it’s important to have options in exterior color finishes that reflect many geographic regions. For instance, we offer three additional color options in classic lap siding and the same options in markets where a stucco treatment is most appropriate. Yet, every option has the consistent design DNA that defines our brand.” According to McKinnon, the changes are the brand’s interpretation of what a modern, contemporary U.S. country home could look like. The signature porte cochere continues to welcome guests and offer great curb appeal, but it’s been simplified and “right-sized.” Soft glowing lights and a blanket of warm wood welcome guests in the lobby. In the living room, the iconic staircase is reinterpreted with a twostory area flooded with natural light, drawing the eye to the second floor. The iconic front porch has been reinterpreted as the veranda. “Not only is the veranda more functional, it’s a place where guests

The New Look Generation 4 “Travelers expect hotels to stay current and fresh as designs evolve,” explains Jim Grimshaw, senior director, Brand Program Development, Midscale Brands, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. “It’s a phenomenon with consumers today, even in our own homes. Many people like to change designs up a bit. In fact, we know it’s about every seven years.”

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Brand New Visual Identity “As we phase in the new visual identity program, we are shipping lobby signage to hotels to build excitement with guests about the brand evolution,” says Aurora Toth, vice president, Brand Marketing, Midscale, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. “We believe that guests are going to respond very favorably to this new look and feel.”


will truly want to hang out ... to enjoy breakfast or an evening beverage by the fire pit,” explains Grimshaw. “It’s a great way to enhance breakfast room seating on higher occupancy nights.” The breakfast room area is light, bright and airy. Visual interest is created by varying seat heights, a new servery and splashes of color. “Our consumer test groups absolutely love our new servery,” says Grimshaw. “Its fresh, clean-lined approach had some of them literally saying ‘Wow!’” The redesign was thoughtful in its approach to the operationally friendly public area. Sight lines to the front desk staff have been enhanced. “We’ve also improved on consolidating the back of house to minimize footsteps and improve the ability for efficiencies for the night staff,” Grimshaw says. “And our food and beverage is easily serviced for both the breakfast servery and meetings.” ROOM TO GROW At the center of that brand evolution is the new Generation 4 room. Six months of research—carefully considering every iconic design element to determine what would be retained, retired or reinterpreted—led to a redesign with a sophisticated color palette, improved lighting and the introduction of new materials that appeal to the changing needs of guests and a younger demographic audience. A new, iconic timber headboard creates a foundation complemented with simple furnishings in wood tones. A fresh, top-of-bed treatment gives hotels a choice of either a triple sheet with a sophisticated bed scarf or a soft, lightweight duvet cover that adds youthful color and a touch of urban appeal. The new bedding program

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is easier than ever for housekeeping and laundry staff, and the lower cost will make owners smile. But the highlight of the room may be the striking bathroom, which is a huge departure from the competition. “This is an area where we will truly differentiate from the rest,” McKinnon says. “We’ve introduced stylish, spalike touches and a unique signature tile wall to infuse interest. “But we’re not only changing the rooms and the architecture,” he adds. “This is an entire change across the brand, and a critical element of that, of course, is the visual identity.” ENHANCED LOGO A key objective was to modernize the visual identity while broadening the appeal to business travelers and the next generation of consumers. Gone are the green linen background and houseshaped frame surrounding the logo, providing more design flexibility. A new logo and comprehensive visual identity retain the warmth and approachability of the brand. A warm-brown background with a reimagined flower give the logo a streamlined yet classic look. Not everything is gone, though. Some elements of the old logo remain, such as the curve of the letter “R” in Country. “The Country visual identity is more than the brand logo, property logos or the name,” says Aurora Toth, vice president, Brand Marketing, Midscale, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. “It’s the look and feel that accompanies every communication. You might even call it the visual voice of the brand, because it speaks to our positioning and personality.” All in-hotel branded materials are receiving a redesign, including items like key cards, door hangers and Advertising

Design Services tool templates, so hotels can customize local sales and marketing material in the new visual identity. Even the Read It & Return Lending LibrarySM features new display pieces. The new look isn’t only in print and on buildings; it’s also online. The brand website has been revised with a wood-grain background and stunning black-and-white photographs interspersed with color shots. The visual identity rollout is not tied to the new prototype, with the exception of exterior signage. At the hotel level, the identity program will be a phased process though the end of this year. “We are not expecting you to discard


any disposable touchpoints with the old identity—we want you to use up what you have,” says Toth. In addition, the brand is subsidizing the cost to replace specific in-hotel touchpoints, giving hotels a head start on their evolution. There is also a generous hotel incentive program for exterior signage and van graphics that is tied to property renovations. “We’re excited to launch the new visual identity with an exterior signage credit program for eligible hotels,” says Toth. The incentive program varies by hotel and details can be found on CONNECT.

In all, the combination of the brand’s investment in the hotel’s evolution and the available incentives make a strong package that hotels can leverage. “The team has worked very hard to ensure we have a design, a guest experience and an owner’s experience that are in balance,” Grimshaw says. “We evolve to deliver value to our stakeholders, to increase our brand equity in the eyes of consumers and drive value to the owners of hotels, who entrust us to keep that customer pipeline full. Make no mistake: This is all about business and helping grow profitability for our hotel owners and management companies.”

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Trudy Rautio president and chief executive officer, Carlson


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LEADING WITH Written By Zoe Murphy

Courage Carlson’s Trudy Rautio talks about the secret to organizational success.


hat makes a great leader? It’s a question often posed to Trudy Rautio, president and chief executive officer, Carlson. At the 2013 Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM Business Conference, Rautio shared her equation for success. “With my roots in finance, I have been using this very simple formula to describe my leadership philosophy: It is people plus performance that equals results.” The best leaders surround themselves with the right people who do the right things, she says. “They nurture and grow talent; they have the courage to face change; and they inspire others. Carlson is a place where leaders achieve success through relationships.” In addition, how we deal with change makes all the difference, she says. “As leaders, we have two choices.

We can dig in and resist, or accept change and embrace it.” On the performance side, great leaders push for innovation, ambition and integrity in their organizations. “It’s not only the ‘what’ we do, but also ‘how’ we do it,” she says. “Top-performing organizations share three important characteristics: They have a culture of innovation; they set ambitious goals with a detailed plan to achieve them; and most importantly, they operate responsibly.” Rautio challenges Carlson’s leaders to differentiate the company’s brands by constantly redefining the customer experience. “Every day we should create and deliver the bright spots in customers’ lives.” Finally, always remember that people want to be part of something bigger than themselves, she says. “Give them a chance at greatness, and they will rise to it.”

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Joy Linsday vice president, Human Resources, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group


f we believe Mark Twain, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” While age doesn’t matter in the hiring arena, the style of managing people of various ages does. For the first time in American history, the workplace is made up of four generations: Matures, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y, also known as the Millennials. In past years, Baby Boomers—the generation born between 1943 and 1960—made up the largest proportion of the workforce, but as they retire, a new generation is emerging to take their place. “Millennials are coming into the workforce in unprecedented numbers—right to your hotels,” says Joy Linsday, vice president, Human Resources, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. “Are you ready?”


Generation Next how to successfully manage the millennials. // By Deborah M. Bernstein 82

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To understand each generation working in their hotel, managers need to be aware of the time in which their workers grew up and the world issues that shaped their values, Linsday told attendees of the 2013 Country Inns & Suites Business Conference. This awareness helps supervisors tailor their leadership style to fit with each group’s unique and specific needs. Matures were affected by the Cuban missile crisis, the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the Korean War. Baby Boomers grew up with Woodstock, the Vietnam War and the moon landing. With both parents working, Generation X was the first to grow up as “latchkey” children. Millennials’ world was shaped by events such as the September 11 attacks and terror bombings. Working with people in different age groups makes leadership a challenge. But learning these skills can help you to become a better leader, to deal more effectively with your peers and to develop a productive dialogue with your colleagues of all ages. “With varied life experiences, expectations and philosophies, people management is definitely not one size fits all,” says Linsday. (See sidebar.) FRESH FACES

Many managers have false perceptions about the youngest work generation, born between 1982 and 2001. In a recent study, researchers identified the most common misconceptions managers have about Millennial employ-


ees, who are often viewed as entitled, self-absorbed, defensive, abrasive, myopic, unfocused and indifferent. “Gen X may have introduced the concept of worklife balance, but Millennials take it one step further,” says Linsday. “Think of it as work-life blending. In their minds, it’s one and the same. They don’t switch between personal and professional mode like the Gen Xers who came before them.” She adds that this generation sees balance when they can combine work tasks with other activities they need or want to do. “Know what those things are for your Millennial employees, and don’t assume they are even close to what you want or need.” For example, do Millennials need a few extra days off so they can travel abroad with their friends? Have they just had a baby and need to shift schedules to allow for drop-off in the mornings? Do they want to check Facebook during the day? Do they have a new idea that they want to try out? A Millennial may come across as “entitled,” but they are expressing the intrinsic value of reward. They love feedback, but if you couch constructive feedback in the same conversation, they may turn you off and discount your accolade. “Millennials love financial rewards, too, as most of us do,” explained Linsday, “but they may have the least realistic expectations as to what is needed to earn more money.” In salary discussions, Linsday urges supervisors to emphasize that increased pay comes only with increased

Case Study: Generations at Work Consider solving a problem occurring in the Breakfast Room. How do you reinforce that your staff is doing a great job? How do you get them to engage with guests? For Baby Boomers, be direct and use facts. Generation X wants to be independent; they’d rather solve problems than be told what to do. Millennials are social, collaborative and creative; ask for their thoughts on how to solve an issue together. Recognizing what works best for you and your leadership team can turn tension into a more engaged workplace.

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Generation Game MATURES: 1925–1942 Matures believe that loyalty to an employer is a noble cause. They are enduring team players with a sense of stability and teamwork. BABY BOOMERS: 1943–1960 This is the generation that created many of the rules of the current workplace. Their forceful nature has made them successful, powerful managers. GENERATION X: 1961–1981 These are generally the problem solvers. They hate unnecessary meetings and strive to be effective with their use of time. MILLENNIALS: 1982–2001 Millennials are social and collaborative with a tendency to be uncomprehending of hierarchy. They’re tech-savvy, inquisitive and ambitious workers.

contributions to the organization at a level that warrants earning more. Then, talk with the employee specifically about what that would look like. “Help channel all that energy into things the employee can directly impact, such as implementing a cost-savings idea, delighting the guest or streamlining a process,” Linsday says. WORKING ACROSS GENERATIONS

As a manager, you transfer your knowledge and experience with the hope of developing your employees. Millennials value simplicity and, as a result, may not see the big picture. Share information simply and clearly with workers from this generation, says Linsday. Use terms they will understand. Draw the line, connect the dots and explain why. “This is the best generation for wanting to leave their mark on the future, so show them what they do matters,” she says. “Tell them we’re not just keeping the Breakfast Room stocked; we’re making the world a better place by showing our guests we care about them and getting their day off to a great start.” Without good direction, Millennials can appear unfocused, indecisive and insecure. They are comfortable being directed as long as it’s not condescending or in response to incompetence. They love to multitask, so don’t assume they absorbed all the directions the first time. They don’t feel awkward about being given directions, even repeatedly. What else does a manager need to know about Millennials? Growing up, they had more time with adults—parents, caregivers, teachers, colleagues—than the generation before them. As such, this group is known for having had more constant affirmation and attention than other groups, says Linsday. “Even constructive feedback can be perceived as evidence of failure, imperfection or a threat to their self-esteem.” At the same time, Millennials value achievement. Ask for their input, ideas and solutions outside of their work environment. “Unchanging worlds and rigidity are showstoppers,” says Linsday. “Show them they work for an organization (and leader) always open to change and making change happen.”

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Team Works

Continued engagement with Be Our Guest keeps the spirit of service growing. // By Judy Colbert


inda Osborne, general manager of the Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Mankato, Minn., says there were a number of times she and her team drew closer together during the hotel’s Be Our Guest training sessions. As a result, Osborne’s team started to take more ownership of the Be Our Guest service philosophy and learned to work together to achieve the program’s mission. “It became less about individual departments and more about communications,” she says. “Now, housekeeping is determined to finish the rooms by


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3 p.m. so the front desk has an easier check-in. The front desk is more aware of housekeeping needs, so they let them know about checkouts. If the conference center staff is in the weeds, it’s all hands on deck.” CREATING CULTURE

With Country Inns & Suites managers across the country reporting success stories like Osborne’s, it’s little wonder that the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group is expanding the Be Our Guest program in 2013. The training program was launched in 2011 with 12 service activities, but due to the popularity of the sessions, managers soon began requesting more, says Michelle Masters, regional vice president, Country Inns & Suites, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. “The feedback was that it was a very productive program, and we should give managers as many tools as possible,” says Masters. “We looked at the program and decided to add six more activities dealing with service behaviors.” At the recent 2013 Country Inns & Suites Business Conference, Masters and Mark Owens, regional vice president, Country Inns & Suites, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, shared with attendees how to get the most out of


Be Our Guest and about the new tools of the program during Carlson Rezidor Business School classes. Be Our Guest helps managers understand how being an engaged leader results in happier employees and higher revenues, says Lynn Messman, senior director, Franchise Operations–Sales Programs, Midscale Brands, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. In fact, Medallia scores

“It’s very much about

caring for the hotel and not just a paycheck.”

showed that the top 20 percent of hotels ranked by guest satisfaction index (GSI) scores last year also reported much higher revenues than those in the bottom 20 percent of GSI. “Be Our Guest engages employees, and happy employees feel good about coming to work every day,” Messman says. “Happy employees also equal better customer service.”

P ho t o gr ap h y c o u rt es y o f C ar l s on R e z i do r Ho t el Gr oup


With the new sessions the company is adding, Carlson Rezidor will provide new and updated class materials, including preparation and supply lists for general managers. Each session should take 45 to 60 minutes to deliver properly. “It’s a small amount of time, and if done correctly, our hotels will receive a lot of rewards from it,” says Masters. The new sessions for 2013 include: • “Be Our Guest Basics”—A refresher of the 3-C’s and the Be Our Guest Service program. • “Our Business Is Your Business”—All about how to keep the staff informed of the hotel’s performance, financial and service results, as well as plans to improve. • “Sticking Together”—About teamwork and how to execute better results for our team and guests by working together, communicating and caring. • “Always Make It Right”—Focusing on service recovery and building loyalty even when things don’t go right. • “Cleanliness and Condition”—Continuously improving the cleanliness and condition of our assets and looking for ways to ensure that everything works and is clean.

tion has a “Wall of Fame,” where guest comments are posted, or a monthly newsletter that highlights previous session topics, be sure to review those regularly.

• “Be Knowledgeable”—An activity that centers on community knowledge in addition to hotel knowledge. Guests want hotels to have the answers to their many questions. A new component will involve a “team huddle” aspect so general managers can continue to have a dialogue with employees on a daily or weekly basis between the service training sessions. The huddles allow hotel teams to discuss what they have learned and how they can apply their new skills daily. “We don’t want these sessions to be ‘one and done,’” says Messman.

• Remember the


Country Inns & Suites 3-C’s of service behaviors— Caring, Consistent and Comfortable— that positively affect guests.

Other hotels look forward to continuing to build on their Be Our Guest spirit. Ellen Depoy-Golden, general manager at the Country Inn & Suites, Winchester, Va., says that the monthly Be Our Guest meetings are mandatory for her 20 employees. “It’s a close-knit group, and we share feelings about what’s going on in the hotel,” says Depoy-Golden. “I love that I have that time with my staff all together. It’s very much about caring for the hotel and not just a paycheck.” Be Our Guest has prompted significant feedback from the staff as well. Depoy-Golden has learned from these comments more about how different departments can assist each other, while supporting guests and each other. Her team has found the pin program to be extremely worthwhile. “It helps build a stronger service culture,” she says. “Our year-to-date GSI numbers have increased by five points.” Kelly Boomgarden, general manager of the Country Inn & Suites, Owatonna, Minn., finds her 15 employees have become engaged with the programs, and her hotel’s GSI scores have gone from 8.72 to 8.94 between 2011 and 2012. Everyone takes pride in that, she says. Boomgarden also publishes a monthly newsletter that has a Be Our Guest section. “It recaps the previous training and correlates it to the results they had this month,” she says. For her part, Osborne says her workforce of 35 employees was solid to begin with, but now, the camaraderie is better than ever. In the past, she used to have staff meetings once every quarter, but admits they could be a bit dry. Now, with Be Our Guest, employees are eager to participate, Osborne says. “My employees only wish we had even more sessions scheduled for 2013!”

Action Items For Staff

• If your loca-

• Review each session’s notes and huddle notes periodically so you can see how they relate to one another.

• Check the goals that were established during the previous session to see how they are being met.

• Let your manager know when something from a training session has improved your performance or the performance of other departments.

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Energy Aware

Is your property doing all it can to save on energy costs? // By Zoe Murphy


id you know that utilities are the second-largest expense category for hotels after labor? And that energy costs represent the bulk of utility expenses? Hotels can combat energy costs by monitoring the property’s energy consumption, involving employees and enforcing a few simple no-cost or low-cost ideas. When hotels take charge of their energy expenses, they will begin operating more efficiently without impacting guest satisfaction. COST TRACKING

It all begins with an awareness of where the energy dollars are going. Ted Lorenzi, senior director, Engineering Design and Operations, Technical Services, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group—who taught Business School classes on energy efficiency at the 2013 Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM Business Conference—recommends that properties closely track their consumption of water, gas and electricity. For water, general managers should focus on measuring consumption month to month in gallons per guest nights, says Lorenzi. “The amount of water a hotel uses is directly related to the number of people in the guest room.” Hotels can measure electricity and gas by room nights and the square footage of the hotel. “You want to look more at consumption because the cost goes up every year.”


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Next, Lorenzi advises general managers to take a look at the areas of the property or the equipment that consume the most energy. Guest rooms head the list, with laundry close behind. He says it’s important to think in terms of “nega-watts”— the kilowatts hotels don’t need to use. “The easiest thing to do is just turn things off—turning lights off, TVs off. It can save, depending on how badly it was abused before, from 1 to 3 percent on an electric bill.” Jodie Grannes, assistant general manager, Country Inn & Suites, Bloomington at Mall of America, Minn., worked with the hotel’s vendors in laundry and dish services to make sure they were using the proper temperatures and following the recommended specifications. “The vendor makes monthly visits to ensure everything is still running smoothly,” she says. “If it’s not calibrated properly, you can end up wasting a lot of chemicals and energy.” EMPLOYEE EDUCATION

When it comes to guest rooms, Lorenzi says, teaching employees about energy efficiency, such as adjusting room thermostats, is the best way to control cost centers. He advises properties to create a seasonal thermostat schedule, so that housekeeping sets it to 68 degrees in the winter and 72 in the summer.


Grannes has found success with her location’s housekeeping team by posting the day’s thermostat settings by the employee time clock. “We show the setting each day,” she says. “Communicating with employees in this way has made a great deal of difference.” Another thing involves the proper use of each guest room’s curtains. “Certainly it helps if the curtains are open in the winter and closed in the summer,” says Lorenzi. “This allows sunlight to warm the room in colder months while keeping out the heat during the summertime.” Turning lights off is another easy way to lower energy expenses. Whether it is making sure the lights are off in empty meeting rooms or turning them off after the housekeeper leaves a guest room, a flick of the switch can translate into cost savings. To keep things looking inviting, Lorenzi recommends leaving on the lights in the front of a room and turn off the back lights. “Turning things off when you’re not using them is the biggest thing,” he adds. PROMOTE EFFICIENCIES

After guest rooms, laundry is another energy-expensive area. To combat costs here, Lorenzi suggests loading equipment to capacity and making sure the machines are loaded properly. “You don’t want to do partial loads if you can help it,” he says. “That’s why some properties have different sizes

of washers and dryers.” If there is a partial load to be done, it can be put into the smaller machine. Grannes has had cost savings success by installing motion sensors on lights in back of the house and staff areas. “We use them in restrooms and storage areas, the laundry and the employee break room,” she says. “We also have signs at the light switches to remind everyone to turn off the lights.” Another unique way Grannes found to lower energy costs at no expense to the property was to contact the hotel’s vending machine vendors and ask them to replace the soda and candy machines with more efficient, ENERGY STARcertified machines. Even the exterior of a property can play a part in lowering energy costs. If irrigating, hotels should make sure they are doing so only as needed. Lorenzi recommends using a rain gauge or sensor. “You also want to walk the entire system,” he says. “Managers can double-check to ensure that the watering system is not watering the curb or sidewalk.” When equipment does need to be replaced, consider the total Life Cycle Cost (LCC) of the item, because spending a few extra dollars on more efficient equipment will save money in the long run. Perhaps obvious, but still vital, when it comes to energy savings is keeping equipment properly maintained, including making sure all filters are cleaned regularly and properly, from the dryers to the pool. And if there is a dripping faucet or leaky toilet, make sure it is fixed promptly, says Lorenzi. “It’s amazing how much water can be wasted if something is leaking all the time.” Lorenzi acknowledges that much of the challenge to implementing low-cost or no-cost energy ideas comes down to awareness and involvement. The job of general managers is to be cognizant of consumption and equipment. The next step is getting the staff involved and excited about implementing any changes—put the electric bill up in the employee break room so they can see and realize what the hotel is spending. Lorenzi related one story that was told at the conference: When the monthly invoice was posted, one employee thought that was the total cost for the year! “Employees don’t always think about this when they come to work, but these cost savings go directly to the bottom line, and they can help the hotel save money.”

Ask the Expert What are the areas that general managers should focus on to lower their properties’ energy costs? 1. Housekeeping— Everything from room temperature to how the curtains are drawn needs to be standardized to help lower energy costs. 2. Lighting—Nothing could be simpler than turning off lights when they are not in use. 3. Laundry—Set procedures, such as weighing linen, loading equipment properly and cleaning lint filters after every load, to ensure efficient use. 4. Maintenance— Equipment works best when it is maintained according to manufacturer recommendations. Not only will it last longer, but also it will work more efficiently.

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To the Max

A focus on efficiency helps balance profitability and guest satisfaction. // By David Jones

management; food and beverage management; and efficient use of labor. “Process efficiency is very important to our operators in order to maintain very good service with a somewhat compressed staffing model,” says Jim Grimshaw, senior director, Brand Program Development, Midscale Brands, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. LAUNDRY—SAVE AFTER HOURS


s the U.S. economy continues its recovery, demand for hotel rooms will again be high in 2013. Fierce competition among rival brands, however, means that hotel operators have to find creative ways to maximize returns. The goal for any operator is to boost revenue and maximize profitability, without sacrificing brand loyalty or the satisfaction of the individual guest. Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM is working to find solutions to boost the bottom line, while making sure guests keep coming back. “At the end of the day, the goal is for our hotels, especially the owners, to improve their return on investment,” says Scott Meyer, senior vice president, Midscale Brands, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. AREAS OF OPPORTUNITY

Remembering the Country Inns & Suites 3-C’s of service behavior—Caring, Consistent and Comfortable—and involving the employees is important to ensure guest satisfaction. Employees need to understand programs and how to execute them in order to become good stewards of the brand. In terms of driving efficiencies, Country Inns & Suites is focusing on areas of opportunity where the hotel operations can be made more efficient without sacrificing the guest experience. They include housekeeping and facilities


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“At Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM hotels, our general managers tend to wear a lot of hats,” says Chris Ardolino, regional vice president, Franchise Operations, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. “It’s very easy during day-to-day operations to get sidetracked and not focus on managing profitability.” Housekeeping and laundry services are major costs for hotels and an important opportunity for savings. Grimshaw says that an individual hotel can save thousands of dollars by moving laundry services to evenings. Not only do the water and electrical costs go down because of lower “off-peak” usage rates, but staff members also complete the tasks quickly because they aren’t occupied with other housekeeping activities. Ardolino says operators also can consider training housekeeping staff to clean rooms during off-peak times where possible and adjust staffing accordingly; this can help prevent staff burnout and too much overtime. Breakfast—A LASTING IMPRESSION

Food management is another important area where hotels can maximize returns, both in terms of savings and improving guest satisfaction. The breakfast area is often the last major guest experience before morning checkout—leaving a lasting impression on a customer. Managers should take steps to forecast the amount of food they need for a certain time of year and for special events. Preplanning for possible changes in weather and other unforeseen circumstances can also be beneficial. Take special note of which items are most requested by guests, the amount of time it takes to prepare certain meals and turnover times for individual food items, says Ardolino.


“If guests are having oatmeal, how long does it take to prepare that food in sufficient quantities, how much time does it take for a guest to consume it and how quickly can the table be cleared for the next guest?” Breakfast is another area where quality customer service is vital, says Grimshaw. The employee should be able to handle guest requests in a fast and friendly manner. A quick response can be the difference between a happy guest who will return and a disgruntled customer who will share their displeasure with friends. Encourage employees by establishing a “Wall of Fame” where guest comments are posted, whether the comments are about the staff in general or someone who has been complimented for doing something outstanding for a guest. “Put the most customer-friendly and efficient workers on your breakfast shift,” says Grimshaw. “They may be the last employee to interact with a guest before checkout.” REVENUE OPPORTUNITIES

Managers should focus not only on finding cost savings

but also on looking for creative ways to boost revenue. Meyer says that managers shouldn’t just rely on large national accounts to provide business, but should also make connections with important stakeholders in the local community that can drive business into the hotel. Local businesses, school officials and real estate agents can be a great source of business if they hold meetings or large events in the area. Reach out to these potential accounts when looking to maximize profitability. You want your hotel to be the first property they recommend to outside visitors, he says. Real estate agents can also refer clients to your property if they are relocating to a new house. “From a brand level, we can’t drive these local sales for individual hotels,” says Meyer. “It takes the hotels working in partnership with the brand to increase revenues and achieve operational excellence.”

Clockwise, From Top Left: Jim Grimshaw, senior director, Brand Program Development, Midscale Brands; attendees learn profit tips; Chris Ardolino, regional vice president, Franchise Operations; taking notes on efficiency.

Efficient Operations Case Study After opening the Country Inn & Suites in Cortland, N.Y., nine years ago, Teri Tarshus left the property in 2006 to work at a new hotel in the chain in Ithaca, N.Y. Meanwhile, the Country Inn & Suites in Cortland went through four different general managers and an ownership change. It was clear the hotel needed some renewed attention. Tarshus returned and started to rebuild the Cortland staff. She looked for great personalities rather than the most experienced hotel employees. “I love an outgoing personality,” Tarshus says. “I can’t teach someone to talk and smile.” Tarshus says two of her most important areas for cost control at the 81-room hotel include experimenting with breakfast menus and strategic use of staffing, based on forward bookings, seasonality and other factors.

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Sales Force



uge opportunities exist to expand sales, and most of them are right in your own backyard. All you have to do is step outside the box—literally, walk outside your hotel and start building relationships in your community. Combined with a new tool from Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM, managers will find it quicker and easier than ever to sell their hotels.


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A very large percentage of business is booked directly through the hotel. That’s why building personal relationships in your community is so important. “It’s not just going to chamber meetings, but it’s getting out and making sure that you understand what’s happening in your community, eating in local restaurants and listening to what’s going on,” says Lynn Messman, senior director, Franchise Operations-Sales Programs, Midscale Brands, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. “You have to find some time out there to do something,” she adds. “You need to keep your pipeline full, and you need to get out in the community.” It’s important to go to the clients—not just wait for them to walk in the door, even if they are close by, says Messman. “What a lot of hotels struggle with nowadays is that even if


they have a client that’s three blocks away, that client does not have the time nor do they want to leave the office and come tour the hotel.” iPADS FOR ALL

“Wouldn’t it be easy if you had a tool to help you market your hotel in a quick, simple, efficient way?” asks Jenne Roper, director, Brand Marketing, Midscale Brands, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, who, with Messman, led the Local Sales—Owning Your Backyard Business School Session at the 2013 Country Inns & Suites Business Conference. “Well, it’s here, and we’ve created it for you.” Roper worked with Aurora Toth, vice president, Brand Marketing, Midscale, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, to develop eMarket PRO, an iPad app for Country Inns & Suites hotels. They surprised all of the brand’s general managers at the conference with an iPad, which had been preloaded and customized for each hotel with eMarket PRO. The app has a series of slides that managers can select from in order to customize their own presentations; they simply drag and drop the slides into place. The idea stemmed from a regional visit, when an operations team went out on a sales call. They took some photos of a property, loaded them onto an iPad and went out into the community. “What we really want to do here is bring the hotel to the client,” says Messman. “These visuals start to open the eyes of these clients who just haven’t had the time to see what it is that we have to offer.” The Country Inns & Suites Brand Marketing team had already loaded the “hero” shots—the photos that best show off the hotel—onto the iPads. “We are trying to provide them with a tool that gives them the confidence and the professional look that they need to go out and start talking to people,” says Messman. FRESH AND CUSTOMIZED

The new app also helps managers keep presentations up-todate. Marketing tools have been around for quite some time, but they haven’t been as readily accessible for updating as they are now. “We already have a very good built-in advertising tool (ADS) that our hotels can access for free and build their advertising and collateral,” Toth says. The eMarket PRO complements the ADS tool and makes it easier and quicker than ever to keep sales presentations fresh. “It has a plethora of templates already pre-populated with key programs and offers that are consistent across all of our hotels.” Carlson Rezidor will regularly provide updates, and everything is automatically populated to eMarket PRO.

Community Involvement Get out there! Connecting with chambers of commerce, professional associations and networking groups in your area can help expand your customer base. Grant Dahlstrom, general manager of Country Inn & Suites, Bountiful, Utah, says, “We identify niche markets, find out how to get our foot in the door and try to find an association active in that market.” The property’s director of sales, Shanell Silvester, is involved in several organizations, where she spreads the word about the hotel. She also attends trade shows and collects business cards. She then follows up. “It’s not really a hard sales pitch; it’s more of a soft pitch.” Tom Murray, general manager of the Country Inn & Suites, Des Moines West, Iowa, says, “Talk to people who are walking through your door, ask what brings them into your neck of the woods and look to see if that’s the tip of the iceberg.”

Top, From Left: Jenne Roper, director, Brand Marketing, Midscale Brands, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, and Lynn Messman, senior director, Franchise Operations–Sales Programs, Midscale Brands, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group.

“Hotels don’t have to worry about if they have the latest and greatest. We make sure the information is always up-to-date from here at headquarters. That is a huge timesaver,” says Toth. The app also makes it possible to customize presentations with the photos and information that would be the most appealing to a client, whether that client is a bride, a local business or a government official. “It’s really simple to just drag and drop the slides into a presentation,” says Toth. “They could conceivably do this 10 minutes before they walk out the door, and then they’ll be able to put a customized presentation in front of a prospective client.” Messman adds, “It’s really something that is going to make the busy lives of managers a lot easier, and it will make selling our hotels a lot easier as well.”

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Upper-Midscale Honors

COUNTRY INNS & SUITES BY CARLSONSM RECOGNIZES 2012 AWARD WINNERS. President’s Awards: Aiken, SC / Albertville, MN / Anderson, SC / Asheville

GA / Tampa East, FL / Toledo, OH / Tuscaloosa, AL / Tyler South, TX /

I-240-Tunnel Rd, NC / Asheville West, NC / Athens, GA / Atlanta-NW at

Washington at Meadowlands, PA / Watertown, SD / West Bend, WI / Willmar,

Windy Hill Rd, GA / Bel Air East at I-95, MD / Bentonville, AR / Billings at

MN / Wilson, NC / Woodbridge, VA / Zion, IL; Be Our Guest Awards:

MetraPark, MT / Boise West, ID / Brooklyn Center, MN / Burlington, NC /

Albertville, MN / Anderson, SC / Asheville West, NC / Atlanta Northwest at

Calgary-Airport, AB / Chanhassen, MN / Clinton, IA / College Station, TX /

Windy Hill Road, GA / Bentonville South, AR / Buffalo, MN / Burlington, NC /

Columbia, MO / Cortland, NY / Cottage Grove, MN / Covington, LA /

Conway, AR / Cortland, NY / Dakota Dunes, SD / Dover, OH / Freeport, IL /

Cuyahoga Falls, OH / Denver International Airport, CO / Des Moines-West,

Gillette, WY / Grand Rapids East, MI / Green Bay, WI / Hanover, VA /

IA / Fairburn, GA / Freeport, IL / Gainesville, FL / Goldsboro, NC / Grand

Knoxville at Cedar Bluff, TN / Lake City, FL / Lawrenceville, GA / Lewisburg,

Rapids East, MI / Grand Rapids, MN / Green Bay North, WI / Hanover, VA /

PA / Lexington Park, MD / London South, ON / Marion, IL / Menomonie, WI

Hershey at the Park, PA / High Point, NC / Houghton, MI / Indianapolis

/ Milwaukee West, WI / Mount Morris, NY / New Glasgow, NS / Ontario at

Airport South, IN / Knoxville at Cedar Bluff, TN / Lake City, FL / Lewisburg,

Ontario Mills, CA / Owatonna, MN / Pella, IA / Pineville, LA / Port

PA / Lexington Park, MD / Little Falls, MN / Loudon, TN / Madison

Orange-Daytona, FL / Roanoke, VA / Rochester-Henrietta, NY / St. Cloud

Southwest, WI / Madison West, WI / Mankato, MN / Marinette, WI / Marion,

East, MN / State College, PA / Stockton, IL / Sycamore, IL / Tucson City

IL / Marquette, MI / Milwaukee-West, WI / Nevada, MO / New Orleans

Center, AZ / Winchester, VA / Zion, IL; Renovation Awards: Columbia Airport,

French Quarter, LA / Northwood, IA / Peoria North, IL / Pineville, LA / Port

SC / Corpus Christi, TX / Dakota Dunes, SD / Fargo, ND / Ocean Springs, MS /

Orange – Daytona, FL / Portage, IN / Princeton, WV / Rochester-Henrietta,

Phoenix Airport at Tempe, AZ / Saginaw, MI / Savannah Gateway, GA / St.

NY / Rock Falls, IL / Rocky Mount, NC / Roselle, IL / Roseville, MN / Salt

Paul East, MN / Stone Mountain, GA / Temple, TX / Topeka West, KS;

Lake City-South Towne, UT / Schaumburg, IL / Smyrna, GA / St. Charles, MO

Responsible Business Award: Bloomington at Mall of America, MN

/ St. Cloud East, MN / St. Peters, MO / State College, PA / Stone Mountain,

Row 1 (left to right) Note not all award winners pictured. | Jeff Ruhr,

president, Ruhr Development / Deborah Swedberg, general manager,

right) | Lewis Williamson, general manager, Zion, IL / Lori Rivetts, general

Sycamore, IL / Alyssa Romano, general manager, Aiken, SC / Antonio

manager, Little Falls, MN / Marie Casper, president, Discover Lodging

Walker, general manager, Sudha Investment / Jennifer Novinger, general

Management, Inc. / Mayur Desai, director of operations, Tuscaloosa, AL /

manager, Lewisburg, PA / Betty Knight-Tapia, general manager, Corpus

Michael Garner, general manager, Burlington, NC / Michelle Breitwiser,

Christi, TX / Bill Farnham, general manager, Smyrna, GA / Brad Renslow,

general manager, Billings, MT / Julie Stoffel, general manager, Raymond

general manager, Fargo, ND / Jeri Warne, general manager, Watertown, SD

Management Group / Muhammad Aslam, general manager, Indianapolis

/ Diane D’Amico, general manager, Pineville, LA / Dilip Patel, owner,

Airport South, IN / Nathan Stambaugh, director of operations, Dutch Corp.

Asheville, NC / Jill Nelson, general manager, Grand Rapids, MN / Dipi

Hotel Management / Shelly Lugo, general manager, Temple, TX / Karen

Sawhney, general manager, State College, PA / DJ Desai, manager,

Pedersen, general manager, Ontario at Ontario Mills, CA / Sweta Patel,

Savannah Gateway, GA / Doug Cope, general manager, Mount Morris, NY /

manager, Loudon, TN / Tabatha McNulty, general manager, Boise West, ID

Ed Wilson, general manager, Grand Rapids East, MI / Ellen Depoy-Golden,

/ Tammy Haga, general manager, St. Cloud East, MN / Tara McLaughlin,

general manager, Winchester, VA / Gerard Caron, general manager,

general manager, Northwood, IA / Tara Nelson, general manager, Rocky

Princeton, WV; Row 2 (left to right) | Carrie Parchem, general manager,

Mount, NC / Teri Tarshus, general manager, Cortland, NY / Terri Schelm,

Buffalo, MN / Charlie Holsworth, general manager, Marquette, MI / Chuck

general manager, Dakota Dunes, SD; Row 4 (left to right) | Kataki Patel,

Brickson, general manager, Roseville, MN / Jim Daly, general manager,

general manager, Stone Mountain, GA / Nick Patel, owner, Crossroad

Portage, IN / Danny Patel, general manager, Conway, AK / Darcy Sessions,

Hospitality / Nilam Patel, general manager, Hanover, VA / Pankaj Desai,

general manager, Salt Lake City South Towne, UT / David Pavlik, general

general manager, Clinton, IA / Kay Halbin, general manager, Freeport, IL /

manager, Tucson City Center, AZ / David Troyer, president, Dutch Corp.

Rob Wartella, general manager, Madison West, WI / Rocky Patel, general

Hotel Management / Dawn Duncan, general manager, Rock Falls, IL / Joe

manager, Columbia, MO / Samridhi Sharma, general manager, Woodbridge,

Freyer, general manager, Anderson, SC / Guy Fox, general manager, West

VA / Sandip Patel, general manager, APRS, LTD / Tim Brown, senior vice

Bend, WI / Heidi Olson, regional general manager, Bloomington at Mall of

president, Excelsior Group / Todd Christian, director, hotel operations, Sand

America, MN / Hetal Patel, general manager, Rochester-Henrietta, NY /

Companies, Inc. / Tom Clapsaddle, general manager, Port Orange - Daytona,

Janet Demuth, general manager, Wilmar, MN / Jay Jivan, managing director/

FL / Kelly Boomgarden, general manager, Owatonna, MN / Ket Khountham,

general manager, Jac Mataji, LLC / Jordan Dols, general manager,

general manager, Denver International Airport, CO / Kirk Schultz, general

Chanhassen, MN / Jay Patel, general manager/owner, Goldsboro, NC / Jeff

manager, Madison Hospitality Group / Leanne Shaw-Brotherston, general

Arman, general manager, Milwaukee West (Brookfield), WI; Row 3 (left to

manager, Calgary-Airport, AB / Lee Sponsler, general manager, Pella, IA

Gala Affair

honoring country Inns & Suites’ best. At the end of the conference, attendees of the 2013 Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM Business Conference gathered to pay tribute to this this past year’s award winners. Recognizing the special opportunity the event offered to not only bring the brand together but also to prepare them for the changes ahead, attendees noted that the remarkable evening truly was filled with a “Country” spirit.


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COUNTRY HONORS Employee of the Year

Hotel of the Year

Duane Hitchcock

Diane D’Amico

Shuttle Driver

General Manager

Country Inn & Suites, Cape Canaveral, Florida

Country Inn & Suites, Pineville, Louisiana

General Manager of the Year Ed Wilson

General Manager

Country Inn & Suites, Grand Rapids East, Michigan

Suite Success

Country Inns & Suites celebrates its leading achievers. Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM hotels are known for their top-notch service cultures and amenities. But these qualities are only possible because of the brand’s outstanding people. The brand’s 2013 Business Conference, held at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, honored those men and women who embody the Be Our Guest promise every day. Among other notable accomplishments, the 2012 Hotel of the Year Country Inn & Suites, Pineville, La., achieved the top ranking by TripAdvisor for all hotels in its market. Employee of the Year Duane Hitchcock has received more than 1,245 positive recognitions through Medallia. And Ed Wilson, honored as General Manager of the Year, led his hotel to excel in everything from guest satisfaction to revenue generation, all while undergoing a renovation.


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it’s a colorful world Adding Color to Life

SM At Park Inn by Radisson, Adding Color to LifeSM is our service philosophy that you exemplify with every guest experience. From a welcoming hello at check-in to delivering authentic service, you are what makes Park Inn by Radisson the hotel our guests can rely on.




ith the theme of “Gen-D: Generation Deliver!,” The Rezidor Hotel Group held its Annual Business Conference 2013 at the Radisson Blu Latvija Hotel, Riga, Latvia, from March 20–22, 2013. More than 500 delegates from Rezidor, the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and Carlson gathered to hear from Rezidor’s Leadership Team on the state of the business and priorities for the year ahead.

New Horizons

rezidor SETS the COURSE FOR A PROFITABLE FUTURE AT ITs annual conference. // By Renu Snehi


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GENERATION DELIVER In a conference keynote, Wolfgang M. Neumann, president and chief executive officer, The Rezidor Hotel Group, acknowledged that while the European economy has created challenges for Rezidor, the company continues to move forward successfully on its Route 2015 strategy. “We are turning these challenges into opportunities,” he said. “We put an ambitious strategy in place to help us climb from one of the world’s fastest-growing hotel companies to one of the most profitable.” Despite laying many important building blocks for the future, there is more work ahead to achieve long-term, sustainable success, Neumann added. “Our vision is to be recognized as the most passionate team of hoteliers, the most innovative and responsible organization, the most dynamic hotel company in EMEA and the preferred hotel company to invest in and to do business with.”


Other featured speakers included Knut Kleiven, deputy president and chief financial officer; Olivier Harnisch, executive vice president and chief operating officer; and Thorsten Kirschke, president, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. On the final day, Trudy Rautio, president and chief executive officer, Carlson, updated delegates on the state of Carlson’s businesses and shared her thoughts on effective leadership and creating unforgettable guest experiences. “I have total confidence in a fantastic future ahead for our companies,” she said. HIGH HONORS The conference kicked off with a ceremony that honored a number of long-term service award winners, including Finn Schulz, senior vice president, Information Technology, The Rezidor Hotel Group, who has worked for the company for 40 years. Other recognitions included Employee of the Year

award winner Pierre Pollin, food and beverage attendant, Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Cork; General Manager of the Year award winner Deborah Haines of the Radisson Blu Belorusskaya Hotel, Moscow; and Young Leader of the Year Maria Oldenbjerg, director, Sales and Marketing, Radisson Blu Royal & Scandinavia Hotel, Copenhagen. Another highlight of the conference was a gala to honor Kurt and Lara Ritter, as they take off on their new adventure after an amazing 37 years with Rezidor. Kurt, who served as Rezidor’s president and chief executive officer since 1989, retired at the end of last year. The dinner was created by some of Rezidor’s most celebrated chefs, who flew in from around the globe. Family, friends and colleagues paid heart-warming tributes to the innumerable ways that Kurt influenced the lives of so many people, making an immense difference to the hotel industry and an invaluable contribution to the success of Rezidor.

Clockwise, From Left: Wolfgang M. Neumann, president and chief executive officer, The Rezidor Hotel Group; conference attendees; Kurt Ritter; Trudy Rautio, president and chief executive officer, Carlson; award winners pose with Neumann

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Local The newest RBG location expands the restaurants’ reach.

Ph o to g ra p hy c o u rt es y o f C a rl s o n R ez id o r H o te l G ro u p , b y R ock y Sa l s k o v

The Radisson Phoenix Airport is home to the newest RBG location. Like offerings at the two other U.S. locations, dishes at the Phoenix Airport RBG will incorporate local ingredients and regional recipes. Here, the menu will reflect the hotel’s Southwest setting. (See next page for more.)


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Above: A signature dish from the Radisson Hotel Seattle Airport RBG is the grilled salmon with Asian citrus salsa. It is just one of the many regionally inspired dishes utilizing local ingredients that the contemporary bar and grill concept offers.

Fresh Tastes Regional recipes and the best ingredients set apart the RBG restaurants.


BG, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s contemporary all-day bar and grill concept, has opened its third U.S. location at the Radisson Phoenix Airport. Executive Chef and Food and Wine Director Ivan Ruiz will oversee the location’s menu filled with Southwest-inspired regional specialties. “Chef Ivan and his team will create a guest experience that will be a shining example for Radisson®. It does not have to be just a ‘hotel restaurant,’ but instead, it can be an energetic, vibrant space where fresh food is prepared with a regional flair,” explains Ted Trembath, regional general manager, Radisson Phoenix Airport. Each RBG location aims to put a local spin on the menu while focusing on the best ingredients. According to Christer Larsson, vice president, Food & Beverage, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, “It’s very straightforward cooking, utilizing the best ingredients that the market can offer.” For interested properties, there is a design package available for review. “Since opening in June of last year, we continue to receive great comments about the menu offerings and service at the RBG Bar & Grill,” says Michael Pitstick, general manager, Radisson Hotel Seattle Airport. The location’s tempting menu options include regional menu items developed by Executive Chef Cedar Martin that are reflective of the Northwest, such as grilled salmon with an Asian citrus salsa; a seafood fettuccine with Dungeness crab, halibut, salmon, scallions and tomatoes in a creamy white wine sauce; and for lighter fare, fish tacos featuring a seared whitefish filet on a corn tortilla, with guacamole, slaw and salsa. 2 0 1 3 | TH E C ON FEREN C E ISSU E


Responsible Carlson Rezidor hotels give back to the community.

Children living in the Hogar Laureles orphanage in Montevideo, Uruguay, have some new benefactors. In keeping with the Carlson Credo, caring employees at the Radisson Montevideo have been making life a little better for 15 abandoned children. “Children served in the institution are at high social risk due to the vulnerability of their biological families,” explains Betiana Rosendo of the Radisson Montevideo. Staff collected clothing, toys and computers.

Holiday Host

The Radisson Martinique on Broadway hosted more than 200 parents and children from seven New York City homeless shelters, in conjunction with the city’s Department

of Homeless Services (DHS), for its second annual “Dream, Believe, Achieve” holiday event. The Radisson treated guests to lunch, family activities and a visit from Santa Claus. Led by Susan Anselona, general manager of the Radisson Martinique, and Fatena Williams, manager of the Rooms Division, each family also received gifts, a surprise that “made the children’s faces light up,” according to Williams. The Radisson Martinique’s partnership with DHS began in 2010 as part of a toy drive. Located on 32nd Street and Broadway in New York City, the beautifully restored hotel was recently added to the prestigious National Historic Hotel Registry.

Keep It Local

The Carlson Rezidor Business School in Salt Lake City has been inspiring employees since its inception. Leslie Beringer, accounting– human resources manager at the Radisson Hotel Phoenix Chandler, was so moved by the team effort in assembling bags for the children of Salt Lake City during her time at the Carlson Business School she “wanted to do the same for our community here in Arizona.” Beringer teamed up with Assistant General Manager Bill Wilhalme, Maintenance Engineer Robert Andrews and Front Desk Manager Sisi Ramos to help feed their community’s hungry. “We had food drives, along with contributing and assembling lunches to support more than 100 school-age children,” Beringer says. “We also provided 129 meals for our community!”

Pay It Forward

Staff at the Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel are paying it forward. Employees have “adopted” the Gift of Life House, a “home away from home” for families coming to the Philadelphia area to receive lifesaving transplant treatments.


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“Our team cooked dinner one night for all the families that needed to stay there,” says General Manager Joanne Cunningham. For the holidays, hotel staff collected toys donated by guests, employees and condominium residents, making the season a little brighter for Gift of Life House residents.

Sewing a Difference

The creative staff at the Country Inn & Suites Scottsdale, Ariz., transformed curtains into clothing this fall. “In recognition of Domestic Violence Month, we made children’s clothing from our old shower curtains and donated them to a local shelter that assists victims of domestic violence, a crime which is said to affect one in four women in their lifetime,” explains General Manager Mary Huerta. The shower curtains were refashioned into frilly dresses by John

Lopez, an employee of the hotel, and donated to the Sojourner Center.

Warmer Winters

Employees at the Radisson Plaza Hotel Minneapolis are making a difference through “People Serving People,” a homeless shelter in downtown Minneapolis. “We learned the new face of homelessness is that of a 6-year-old child,” says Kathryn Laulainen, executive assistant. After giving school supplies, they learned that many of the youngsters did not have proper winter gear. Employees and guests donated hats, gloves and apparel.

Left: The Radisson Martinique on Broadway hosted a special holiday event for some of New York City’s homeless families. Top: Recipients of the Country Inn & Suites Scottsdale’s dressmaking skills.

Ph o to g ra p hy c o u rt es y o f C a rl s o n R ez id o r H o te l G ro u p

Caring for Kids

Ph o to g ra p hy c o u rt es y o f Ca rl s o n R ez id o r H o te l G ro u p


Storm Warning

Honesty & Integrity

December’s Category 4 Tropical Cyclone Evan, the biggest in Fiji in two decades, caused some damage at the Radisson Blu Resort Fiji Denarau Island, but no injuries. “Gutters were blown down, feature sails in the pool were damaged, trees were blown over, the beams on our feature decks had to be secured, and the sea wall now needs urgent repair,” says General Manager Gerard Knight when asked about the damage to the hotel. The storm’s destruction couldn’t dampen the hotel team’s Yes I Can! SM spirit, though. Despite the damage, the Kids Club and adults’ pool were open in less than 24 hours. “All guests were very impressed with how the team handled the situation, especially when we delivered a hot dinner to every room in the middle of the storm,” says Knight. More than 100 guests, who appreciated the staff’s Yes I Can! attitude, pitched in to help with the clean-up efforts. “I believe this was payback to the hotel for the manner in which it looked after us,” says guest Brendan O’Farrell.

Carlson Rezidor prides itself on the honesty and integrity of its employees and their Yes I Can! SM spirit. Security guard Juan Quintero, at the Radisson Hotel Whittier, in Whittier, Calif., truly exemplified these values when he recently helped return a backpack containing $40,000 to its owner. The backpack had been left outside the hotel. Quintero looked in the bag for identification, documented the contents and then planned to put the bag in the hotel safe. At that point, the backpack’s owner called the hotel frantically looking for his bag. After confirming that the bag did indeed belong to the guest, Quintero returned it with the man’s thanks. “For the rest of the night, I wondered ‘What else am I going to find!’” he jokes. Quintero has only been with the Radisson Hotel Whittier for five months, and he just completed his Yes I Can! training. He says he learned to “Always be respectful of the customer, and give them the best experience you can.” A firm believer in always doing what’s right, Quintero says, “This was a once in a lifetime thing.”

Top: Chef Milton Rebello (far right) won the bronze medal for his “duck three ways” at the Gold Medal Plates Canadian Culinary Championships. Right: Security guard Juan Quintero reunited a traveler with his lost backpack containing $40,000.

Champion Chef Canadian chef wins bronze medal in culinary competition.

It was a first for Saskatchewan and “the experience of a lifetime” for Chef Milton Rebello of the Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan, who won a bronze medal in the prestigious Gold Medal Plates Canadian Culinary Championships in British Columbia. The competition was fierce as 10 of Canada’s top chefs vied for top honors, while learning and sharing culinary ideas with each other. The two-day event started with a Friday evening Mystery Wine Pairing, where chefs prepared a dish suiting a mystery bottle of wine. Next, in the Black Box Challenge, the competing chefs were given one hour to prepare two dishes using six mystery ingredients. The Grand Finale was an all-out competition in which dishes were partnered with the chefs’ chosen Canadian winery or beverage. A sold-out audience of 600 wine and food enthusiasts were on hand to watch, along with several Canadian Olympians. Chef Milton was honored for his pairing, which included a lamb and goat cheese duo paired with See Ya Later Ranch 2010 Pinot Noir. Proceeds from Gold Medal Plates and the Canadian Culinary Championships will benefit the Canadian Olympic Foundation.

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Small Kindnesses Carlson Rezidor’s commitment to service helps one family touched by tragedy.


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Ph o to g ra p hy b y Mi c ha e l B r o t he r s


aking a difference is something Carlson team members strive to do every day. Scott Durkee, general manager at Radisson Hotel & Suites Chelmsford, learned how, in the face of unspeakable tragedy, the smallest kindnesses can help. The Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary left the community of Newtown, Conn., and the country devastated. As residents struggled to move forward, the Radisson Hotel & Suites Chelmsford was able to care for one group touched by the tragedy. Andy Wellman, a wrestling coach from Newtown, and his family visited the hotel in late December as part of a wrestling tournament in Lowell, Mass. He thanked Durkee and his staff for welcoming his family and the wrestling team members as family. “We lost one of our littlest wrestlers, Jack Pinto, in the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School,” Wellman shares. “We have been struggling with our next steps as we grieve and do everything we can to support the families who lost their loved ones. Nothing we do feels ‘right’ or ‘normal,’ but we know we somehow have to try to start moving forward.” The wrestling tournament was part of the Wellman family’s efforts to do just that. “My wife, two sons, daughter and I enjoyed some laughter and pleasant moments together thanks to the environment you have created—and Mr. Durkee implemented—through your principles and values,” Wellman says. “Our business is a hard one with long hours and sacrifice, but we can truly make a difference in people’s lives through hospitality,” Durkee says.

Ph o to g ra p hy c o u rt es y o f Ca rl s o n R ez id o r H o te l G ro u p , i llu s t ra t ion by J a m e s Ste i nbe r g


man of letters

giving hearts

HOTELS magazine, the industry’s global trade publication, has a new blogger—Thorsten Kirschke, president, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. Titled Beyond RevPAR, the blog will focus on a variety of subjects related to the hospitality industry. Kirschke’s introductory post, A Global Hotelier, gives readers a little background on his love of hospitality and his start in the industry. He offers his take on what success in hospitality looks like. “To work in hospitality today is to take a front seat in a global industry. I have sat in that row for some time now,” Kirschke writes. “Living throughout Europe, Asia and the United States has shaped my vision of the global hotelier.” Kirschke plans to use the platform to talk about what is important to him and the industry. To hear more of what Carlson Rezidor’s own Thorsten Kirschke has to say, sign up at Account.

When San Bernardino County Deputy Jeremiah MacKay was killed Feb. 12, 2013, in a shootout with ex-Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner, the entire community rallied to honor Deputy MacKay. Karen Pedersen, general manager, Country Inn & Suites Ontario Mills, Calif., heard from her daughter and son-in-law, both officers with the local Chino Police Department, that there was a need for donated hotel rooms to accommodate the thousands of law enforcement personnel and bagpipers attending the services. Pedersen posted a private message on Facebook offering rooms, which quickly was reposted to the public. Her gesture of goodwill resulted in more than 3,000 “Likes,” and the property ended up hosting bagpipers from Idaho who performed at the service. “It’s nice to be able to give them a warm welcome and let them know they are appreciated for this outof-pocket trip,” Pedersen says.

Opposite Page: Scott Durkee, general manager at the Radisson Hotel & Suites Chelmsford, made a difference to one family touched by the tragedy at Newtown. Right: Karen Pedersen donated rooms for participants at the funeral of Deputy MacKay.

Travel Trends

International survey reveals influence of social media.

Word of mouth. Social media. Technology availability. According to the 2013 International Travel Trends Survey conducted by Kelton, all of these play into the travel decisions of Americans. The most common reason for travel remains leisure, with 55 percent of Americans keeping their trips within the United States. When it comes to booking those experiences, there is no stronger influence than word of mouth. Forty-one percent of those surveyed noted that a trusted source’s description of a past vacation had the greatest impact on their decision to book similar arrangements. The younger generation, between 18 and 34, is more strongly influenced by social media outlets such as TripAdvisor, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Twenty-nine percent turn to these digital influencers when making travel plans. Likewise, more than 90 percent of responders 18 to 44 look to a hotel’s technological options when booking. And where are these travelers choosing to stay when they hit the road? Americans like the safety of widely recognized brands, whether they are traveling domestically or internationally. Seventy percent of households with annual incomes over $100,000 prefer a widely recognized hotel chain or brand, such as Radisson.

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Carlson Rezidor hotels and staff earn kudos.

skills to the test in midDecember. Roberts was on duty when a 2-yearold boy began to choke. Roberts administered the Heimlich maneuver and was able to help. Following the incident, General Manager Dave Reasoner says Roberts went about his business like it was just another day. When he asked Roberts if he had done this before he said, “Yes, it’s no big deal.”

Hat Trick

For Colliene McNaboe, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Fourteen years of outstanding customer service has earned the Country Inn & Suites, Watertown, S.D., breakfast attendant a 2012 Employee Service Award from the South Dakota Innkeepers Association. According to Susan Dolney, director of Marketing & Training for the hotel, “From making sure the food is properly cooked, stored and handled to socializing with guests, Colliene is one of the best.”

Feel Good

An employee from the


Country Inn & Suites Port Orange - Daytona, Fla., has been recognized for customer service, and her hotel was honored for its high guest-service scores. The Hotel & Lodging Association of Volusia County named Rachel Zona as a winner in their Feel Good Employee Appreciation Program. The Feel Good program solicits testimonials about tourism/hospitality industry employees from customers.

First Aid Skills

Robert Roberts, a new server at the Islands Grill in the Radisson Hotel Corpus Christi Beach put his first-aid

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Historical Assets

When guests at the Country Inn & Suites Lexington Park, Md., ask what there is to do in the area, Brandon Moore always has suggestions. The guest service agent was recognized for his role in attracting visitors to Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC), a museum of living history and

archaeology. In 2012, the museum sponsored “Hotels to Historic,” a program recruiting hotel staff as ambassadors for HSMC. “Enlisting the hospitality industry to help us get word about the museum to potential visitors just makes sense,” says Susan Wilkinson, HSMC marketing director.

Hospitality with Heart

Joshua Moreland, guest service representative, Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza in Merrillville, Ind., definitely has the hospitality itch. He is in the process of earning a degree in hospitality. But Moreland’s heart encompasses more than just work. When a friend’s 7-year-old sister was diagnosed with liver cancer, he united his friends to shave their heads for every radiation treatment the girl received. The girl is now 9 years old, and Moreland and his friends friends have honored

their commitment to her for two years.

Industry Star

Pamela Elliott, housekeeping supervisor, Country Inn & Suites Northwood, was named one of the
Iowa Lodging Association’s Heart of the House Employees of the Year. More than 200 hoteliers, property owners and their guests attended the group’s annual Stars of the Industry Awards to honor outstanding individuals and properties.

Lead Well

“Wherever you go, go as a leader.” This tenet of the Carlson Credo informs everything Chris

Left: Joshua Moreland, guest service representative, Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza, rallied support for a 9-year-old with liver cancer. Top: Colliene McNaboe, breakfast attendant at the Country Inn & Suites, Watertown, won an Employee Service Award.

Ph o to g ra p hy c o ur te s y of C a rl s o n R ez i d or Ho t e l G r o up

Best at Breakfast

One award is great, but three? That’s something to brag about! Lauren Harris Keeler, frontdesk supervisor at the Country Inn & Suites Port Orange - Daytona, Fla., first was recognized by the Hotel & Lodging Association of Volusia County. For service to her country, colleague Oscar Acevedo, whom she supervises, nominated Harris Keeler for a 2012 Employer Support of the National Guard and Reserve Patriot Award. Her hat trick of awards was complete when she was named a top 20 finalist for the Country Inns & Suites Employee of the Year award in the Americas.


is what earned Rachel McEntire, guest service agent at Country Suites Lake Norman in North Carolina her 2012 Employee of the Year Award. During her time with the property, McEntire has gone above and beyond to ensure that all guests leave the hotel saying, “I love this Country.” The unveiling of the renovations at the Radisson Hotel Madison in Wisconsin this spring was a time for celebration. General Manager Jason Salus shared the property’s all-new hotel lobby, restaurant, meeting space, indoor pool area and fitness center. More than 300 guests and clients enjoyed tours and appetizers following an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Romeoville, Ill., for its Best of Romeoville Award in the Hotels & Motels category. Less than 2 percent of the 2012 Award recipients qualified as two-time winners nationwide. “I’m so excited,” says Dorian Pruitte, general manager. “It’s a huge accomplishment. I am very proud of my staff. We’re looking forward to three in a row!” The USCA Best of Local Business Award Program recognizes outstanding businesses throughout the country. Winners in each category are determined by information gathered by the USCA and third parties. The recipients are local companies that enhance the positive image of small businesses through their service to their customers and communities.

Repeat Performance

Sweet Appreciation

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McLaughlin, director, Government Group Sales, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, does. He credits his recent election as treasurer for the NATCAP Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP) to the philosophy, as well. SGMP is a growing organization that delivers the membership value of education, resources and networking to its 3,500 members. It is the only national organization in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to improving the quality of and promoting the cost-effectiveness of government meetings. McLaughlin will serve a two-year term.

Top: Susan Wilkinson honors Brandon Moore, Country Inn & Suites By Carlson Lexington Park, Md., for serving as an ambassador for Historic St. Mary’s City. Right: Pamela Elliott (center) won a Heart of the House Employee of the Year Award from the Iowa Lodging Association.

Platinum Winner

Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago has received a 2012 Platinum Choice Award from Smart Meetings magazine. The award honors the property’s exemplary service, facilities, amenities and accommodations. The Platinum Choice Award is voted on by meeting planners across the country. Smart Meetings covers the latest in meeting trends, corporate event planning, emerging technology, personality profiles and updates on the best venues and destinations throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Congratulations to the entire Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago team!

For two consecutive years, the U.S. Commerce Association (USCA) has selected the Country Inn & Suites

Candy always sweetens things, right? That’s what the Country Inn & Suites Mankato, Minn., thought when

they got creative in saying “thank you” for the business they received from Taylor Corporation over the past year. The Country Inn & Suites is Taylor Corporation’s preferred hotel when travelers come to Mankato. To show their appreciation, the property’s staff placed 1,000 chocolate candy kisses in a vase to represent the 1,000 rooms booked by the company in 2012.

Top Spa

The Larimar Spa at the Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa was named as one of the top spas in the Caribbean by the 2013 Condé Nast Traveler reader’s poll. Spas were rated on three criteria: Spa Facilities, Spa Staff and Spa Treatments. Larimar Spa scored a perfect 100 in Spa Treatments. More than 46,000 people responded to the poll, part of the magazine’s annual online Readers’ Choice Awards survey.

Above and Beyond

What does it take to become Employee of the Year? How about a positive attitude, attention to detail and caring customer service? That 2 0 1 3 | TH E C ON FEREN C E ISSU E



Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group celebrates new employees, as well as those employees who are rising in the ranks.

Hotel Group, has taken on global responsibility for Park Inn by Radisson from Brussels.

Devan Hamilton, former sales assistant, has been promoted to meeting services manager at the Radisson Hotel Salt Lake City Downtown, Utah. Country Inn & Suites Pottsville / Frackville, Pa. has a new general manager— Courtney Hossler. Tony Jackson has been promoted to banquet manager for the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza in Merrillville, Ind. Formerly, he was the banquet houseperson supervisor/ banquet captain.

Michael Andrew has been named vice president and general counsel, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group.

Eric DeNeef, senior vice president, Marketing, CRM and Global Branding, The Rezidor


Hotel industry veteran Richard Flores has been appointed vice president, Branding, Radisson. Richard will be based in the Minneapolis headquarters and report to Gordon McKinnon. Flores will be responsible globally for analysis of trends and insights; new product development; futureproofing; brand DNA; brand audits; brand

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Rose Kutzli, previously vice president, Branding, Radisson, has been named vice president, Branding, for Radisson Blu. Mark Lyttleton-Frances has been appointed general manager for the Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa. He most recently served in St. Lucia, where he oversaw four luxury resorts.

Susan Mason has been appointed vice president, Radisson Franchise Operations. In her new position, she will be responsible for all franchise operations for Radisson. Mason replaces Raj Rana, who was appointed to chief executive officer, South Asia, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group.

Tiffanie Sherod, formerly the assistant controller in the accounting department for the Radisson Hotel Salt Lake City Downtown, Utah, has been promoted to controller.

Edna Nomura has been promoted to human resources manager for the Radisson Hotel Salt Lake City Downtown, Utah. She was previously the human resources coordinator. Seth Twitchell has been named human resources coordinator for the Radisson Hotel Salt Lake City Downtown, Utah. Previously, he worked for guest services as a front office supervisor for the property. Kerry Page has been named the new general manager for the Country Inn & Suites Harrisburg NE, Pa. Sabrina Perkins has joined the Radisson Hotel Salt Lake City Downtown, Utah, as the corporate sales manager.

Christina Washington, who started as a part-time breakfast hostess before she began working at the front desk, is now training to assist in the sales department for the Country Inn & Suites Lexington Park in California, Md.

Ph o to g ra p hy c o ur te s y of C a rl s o n R ez i d or Ho t e l G r o up


governance and implementing the brand’s marketing strategies in the Americas.

Ph o to g ra p hy c o ur te s y of Ca rl s o n R ez i d or Ho t e l G r o up



Major Milestone

Mythical sea creature or girl with an unusual hobby? Either way, the Radisson Hotel Duluth is happy to host the underwater adventures of Ayla the Mermaid, or, as she is known on land, 19-year-old Jessica Benson. Benson made arrangements with Jeff Briner, general manager, to use the property’s pool for her swimming practice. The mermaidfor-hire, who is available for birthday parties and community events, hopes to do something long-term in the entertainment industry. “A front desk agent came to me and said, ‘We have a mermaid at the front desk who is looking to see if she can use our pool to practice swimming in her costume,’” Briner recalls. Now Benson’s practice sessions with her $3,000 custom-made, purple monofin regularly entertain the staff and any visting children. “It’s good promotion for her and for us,” Briner says. “I don’t think any other hotels in Duluth have a mermaid. It’s been entertaining for us and for the kids.”

The staff at Country Inn & Suites, Nevada in Missouri was ready when regular guest Jonathan Thompson stepped up to the front desk to check in recently. Ready, that is, with balloons, cake and lots of hoopla to honor a big milestone. Thompson, who has been a regular Mondaythrough-Thursday-night guest of the hotel for the past two-and-a-half years, recently logged his 1 millionth Club CarlsonSM Gold Point®. “It is very exciting for us to have hosted Mr. Thompson for all million Club Carlson points he has earned,” said Dann Sutton, general manager. “We look forward to his visits each week and are excited that he has reached this amazing milestone.” So how does Thompson plan to redeem his treasure trove of points? According to Sutton, Thompson says he generally uses the points to purchase Best Buy gift cards.

Above: Andrea Franken, room attendant, Radisson Aruba Resort, helped Barbara Trent celebrate her birthday. Right: Jonathan Thompson received a cake from the Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Nevada, Mo., to honor his 1 million Gold Points®.

Birthday Blooms

An unexpected gift touches the heart of one Radisson guest.

Personal touches truly make a difference, as one guest at the Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa discovered recently. Barbara Trent was staying at the property on vacation during her birthday. She returned to her room one afternoon and was surprised to discover a bouquet of flowers waiting for her. After inquiring about where they came from, Sergio Wever, director of loss prevention, discovered that they had been placed there by Andrea Franken, the room attendant. “Andrea said she had picked the flowers herself in the gardens for the guest when she realized, while cleaning the room, that it was the guest’s birthday,” Wever explains. “We told the guest, and she was completely overwhelmed with the gesture.” Franken was called to the room, where Trent had the opportunity to thank her in person. The thoughtful gesture has likely earned the Radisson Aruba Resort a guest for life or certainly a hearty endorsement. Trent’s travel agent, Verda Kesedar, says “Everyone at Radisson treated her like a celebrity. She was walking on the moon. She had the time of her life and can’t wait to go back.” Even Kesedar sang the praises of the Radisson Aruba Resort. “After I heard all the wonderful things from her, I only want to sell Radisson from now on!”

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Twenty 32 YEARS Stephen Hornstein

Dining Room Server, Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan

Bell Attendant, Radisson PlazaWarwick, Philadelphia

29 YEARS Ofelia Dela Cruz

23 YEARS Jesus Soto Jr.

31 YEARS Linh Ho

27 YEARS Corean Holloway

20 YEARS Mary Huerta

29 YEARS Nai Min This Truong

25 YEARS Brian Hicks Sr.

Public Houseman, Country Inn & Suites Naperville, IL

39 YEARS Kalle Kodellas

Dining Room Server, Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan


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General Manager, Country Inn & Suites Scottsdale, AZ

Room Attendant, Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan

Breakfast Cook, Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan

Room Attendant, Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan

Laundry Attendant, Radisson PlazaWarwick, Philadelphia

Maintenance Engineer I, Radisson PlazaWarwick, Philadelphia

Ph o to g ra p hy c o ur te s y of C a rl s o n R ez i d or Ho t e l G r o up

Hotline’s 20 over 20 honors employees who have 20 or more years of service with the company and its hotels. Do you work with someone who should be recognized? Send your submissions and photos to

34 YEARS Marina Young


25 YEARS Cheryl Curtis

Corporate Sales Manager, Radisson Hotel & Suites Chelmsford, MA

24 YEARS Warren Moore Jr.

Steward, Radisson Hotel & Suites Kalamazoo, MI

24 YEARS Richard Britton

Steward, Radisson Hotel & Suites Kalamazoo, MI

23 YEARS Ramon Buenovista

Line Cook, Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan


Joanna Mantikos Dining Room Server, Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan


Susan Kemp Laundry Attendant, Radisson PlazaWarwick, Philadelphia


Helen Heselton Restaurant Server, Radisson Hotel & Suites Chelmsford, MA

29 YEARS 24 YEARS Diane Stanke

Ph o to g ra p hy c o ur te s y of Ca rl s o n R ez i d or Ho t e l G r o up

Payroll Manager, Radisson Hotel & Suites Kalamazoo, MI

24 YEARS Claudia Johnson

Housekeeping, Radisson Hotel & Suites Kalamazoo, MI

24 YEARS Deborah Barrett

Room Attendant, Radisson PlazaWarwick, Philadelphia

Rey Trinidad Line Cook, Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan

21 YEARS Joseph Albeo

Floor Cleaner, Radisson Hotel & Suites Kalamazoo, MI

Dora Platanopolous Dining Room Server, Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan Linda Parrington Room Attendant, Radisson Hotel & Suites Chelmsford, MA


Tom Barry Supervisor, Radisson Hotel & Suites Chelmsford, MA

25 YEARS 24 YEARS Georgia Smith

Housekeeping, Radisson Hotel & Suites Kalamazoo, MI

24 YEARS Clifford Fagan

Housekeeping, Radisson Hotel & Suites Kalamazoo, MI

23 YEARS Roeun Van

Room Attendant, Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan

20 YEARS Gloria Bautista

Guest Services, Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan

James McDonald Kitchen Supervisor, Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza, Merrillville, IN

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Photography courtesy of Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

elax by the Sea | With the Caribbean shoreline beckoning guests, the Radisson Hotel Cartagena is situated on La Boquilla Beach, along Colombia’s northern coast. Embracing a strong sense of the regional experience, the hotel’s décor incorporates elements of folklore with a modern Caribbean flair. Colorful lagoons and gardens surround the resort, further enhancing the tropical vibe. Guests can enjoy the property’s soothing spa or outdoor pool with awe-inspiring views of the ocean. Located minutes from the ancient walled city, the hotel’s location in Cartagena de Indias is near many popular attractions, including the Fortress of San Felipe de Barajas or the Plaza de Santo Domingo, one of the town’s most famous plazas. Also nearby is the Convento de la Popa, atop a beautiful hill that overlooks the entire city.


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Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

Thanks You For Your Support

H otl in e th e a m ericas 113


the new generation of

Country Inns Suites


By Carlson.


For 25 years we’ve delighted guests with amenities and service beyond expectation. Today, we enter a new generation of Country Inns & Suites. Our new look is part of a comprehensive plan to evolve the Country brand, and includes updating our hotel architecture, interiors and visual identity. Every brand touchpoint will be revitalized to appeal to both our current guests and today’s younger business and leisure travelers. We couldn’t be more excited about the position we are in today. We realize it is a direct result of your hard work and we thank you for your dedication. It’s because of our shared vision that guests will be saying, “I love this Country” for years to come.

Hotline The Americas Volume 1 - 2013  

Hotline The Americas takes an in-depth look at our recent 2013 conferences, the Full Service Brands Business Conference and the Country Inns...