Page 1

Going Green Pays Off

Behind the Scenes at Omaha Center

Restaurants Take a Fresh Approach


New Tools Offer Easy Money

The Magazine of Carlson HotelsSM

The Americas

Contact Hotline | Send comments, photos and story ideas to

Hotline The Americas | V211

Editor’s Letter

Photography by Joe Treleven


hat an unbelievable summer it’s been. Carlson Hotels has continued its skyrocketing growth, announcing many new hotels across the Americas and exciting programs for hotels and employees. With the momentum increasing, we’ve dedicated this issue to Carlson Hotels’ pursuit of sustainable growth—creating lasting value by serving all of our stakeholders, including our investors, employees, suppliers and the communities in which we operate. Our strategies for serving these groups are often intertwined, as this issue’s feature on Carlson’s green hotels shows on page 26. While our hotels expand their efforts to operate in an environmentally responsible way, they are also finding that greening their businesses also helps to reduce expenses, attract guests and increase employee engagement. You can find another example of Carlson Hotels’ dedication to long-term growth in our feature on page 52, where we recognize some of our hardworking employees at Carlson Hotels’ Omaha Center. There, we find that these employees’ commitment to staying ahead of an ever-changing industry has helped our hotels connect with our guests for more than 30 years. Sustainable growth also requires our brands to maintain high standards to serve guests. In many of this issue’s articles, we go into the field for our employees’ tips for serving customers, as we do in our feature on increasing guest satisfaction at Radisson® hotels on page 42. On another note, I’m pleased to share the great news that this year the International Academy of the Visual Arts has recognized Hotline The Americas for creative excellence with 11 Communicator Awards, including two of the organization’s highest awards for design and photography. We were selected from more than 6,000 entries! But that’s not all. The Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals also recognized our magazine with a Platinum Hermes Award out of more than 4,400 global nominations.

People, Profit, Planet Carlson Hotels positions itself for long-term growth. | By Molly Biwer These awards are a testament to our employees and hotels that continue to send Hotline ideas about the good stories that our company has to tell. Keep those suggestions coming as we continue growing in the fall, and we’ll see you again this winter. Enjoy!

Molly Biwer Vice President, Communications and Public Relations, Carlson Hotels, Americas H otl i n e TH E A M ER I CAS


The Magazine for Carlson Hotels

The Americas Publisher Thorsten Kirschke, Chief Operating Officer, Carlson, and President, Carlson Hotels, Americas

Illustration by Thomas Simpfendoerfer

Editor-in-Chief Molly Biwer, Vice President, Communications and Public Relations, Carlson Hotels, Americas Supporting Editors Gordon McKinnon, Executive Vice President and Chief Branding Officer, Carlson Deborah M. Bernstein, Director, Internal Communications, Carlson Hotels, Americas Beathe-Jeanette Lunde, Executive Vice President, People Development, Responsible Business, Safety and Security, Carlson Contributors Karen Alley, Robin Sutton Anders, Laura Archer, Jean T. Barrett, Suzanne Bopp, Pam Brandon, Mark Caskie, Virginia Citrano, Roger Davies, Dean Van Dis, Tara Donne, Ginny Gaylor, Jeff Griffin, Jean Herr, Ilovedust, Ashleigh Ivey, Marcia Jedd, Judy Kirkwood, Maria Lenhart, Tim Marrs, Kate Melton, Justin Metz, Amy Mikler, Kevin Miyazaki, Matt Mullen, Carrie Pacifico, Aaron Packard, Jacqueline H. Ponzoni, Ulla Puggaard, Shonaugh Rae, Seed9, James Schnepf, Greg Shemkovitz, Thomas Simpfendoerfer, Jennifer Chappell Smith, Joe Treleven, Adam Voorhes, Christine Xoinis

Park Inn by Radisson Sharon, Pa. | Opened 6.1.11 Country Inn & Suites By Carlson Saginaw, Mich. | Opened 4.26.11 Country Inn & Suites By Carlson Greenfield, Ind. | Opened 3.9.11 Radisson Hotel Menomonee Falls, Wis. | Opened 5.1.11

Country Inn & Suites By Carlson Cooperstown, N.Y. | Opened 3.11.11 Country Inn & Suites By Carlson Norcross, Ga. | Opened 5.6.11

Design | Custom Content | Production

Country Inn & Suites By Carlson San Antonio, Texas | Opened 6.22.11

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 Carlson Hotels’ magazine for the Americas. Hotline The Americas is distributed to Carlson Hotels employees, Carlson’s board of directors, hotel owners and developers, and general managers, strategic partners, key clients and other stakeholders. Production and the Environment Hotline The Americas is printed with a Matte UV coating. UV (ultra-violet) coatings do not emit volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere. They are compatible with standard de-inking processes for recycling of paper. © 2011 Carlson Hotels. All rights reserved. Hotline The Americas by Carlson Hotels. 701 Carlson Parkway, Minnetonka, Minnesota. 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 Carlson Hotels. 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 Carlson Hotels by hotels operating under Carlson Hotels’ brands, which may be independently owned and operated. While Carlson Hotels makes every effort to provide accurate and complete information, various data may change prior to this publication. Carlson Hotels provides no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of furnished data. For the most up-to-date information on Carlson Hotels and its hotel brands, please visit


H otline the americas

Park Inn by Radisson Saltillo, Mexico | Opened 2.8.11

Park Inn by Radisson Mechanicsburg, Pa. | Opened 1.1.11

H o t l i n e T h e A m e r i c a s | V 2 11

The Snapshot Country Inn & Suites By Carlson Georgetown, Ky. | Opened 3.2.11 Park Inn by Radisson São Paulo, Brazil | Opened 2.8.11


Radisson | 136 Country Inns & Suites By Carlson | 469 Park Inn by Radisson | 716


Carlson Hotels in operation and contracted pipeline, summer 2011

Rooms to Grow |

Among its 11 new properties, Carlson Hotels has opened Brazil's first Park Inn by Radisson and introduced the brand in Pennsylvania with two locations. Carlson has also expanded the Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM brand with its 10th hotel in New York, 12th in Indiana, 14th in Michigan and an impressive 43rd property in Georgia. Carlson Hotels boasts its elegant new room styles like “Urban” in the new Radisson Hotel Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, and progressive features such as the entirely non-smoking Park Inn by Radisson in Saltillo, Mexico. ■

H otline the americas 3

The Front Desk ta b l e o f c o n t en t ss | H o tli n e th e am er i c as | V211





Growing Green Hotels / By Jean T. Barrett Going green is good for a hotel’s bottom line and improves guest satisfaction. . . . {26} Simple. Fresh. Real. / By Pam Brandon Carlson Hotels has new dining options in response to a trend toward healthier eating choices. . . . {32} Innovate Your Morning / By Maria Lenhart Guests love the new nondisposable dishware at Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM—and so do hotel owners and employees. . . . {36} House Rules / By Jennifer Chappell Smith Hotel improvements and dedicated employees are leading the way toward greater guest satisfaction at Radisson® hotels. . . . {42} Park Inn by Radisson / By Maria Lenhart A word or phrase can speak volumes, which is why Park Inn® has added “Radisson” to its name. . . . {48} Heart of Carlson / By Marcia Jedd The employees of Carlson Hotels’ Omaha Center continue their mission to help the company grow. . . . {52} Sourcing Decoded / By Marcia Jedd Keeping on top of commodity costs is just one of the essential services that the procurement department provides. . . . {58} 4

H o tlin e t he a me ricas









Executive Column . . . {06} Global integration, a strategy for stronger brands

Money Matters . . . {22}

Employee Profile . . . {10} David McCord, manager of first and last impressions

Partner Profile . . . {62} Kurt Ritter, a lifetime in the hotel business

Raising the Bar . . . {12} Americans with Disabilities Act revised

Data Defense . . . {64} Guarding against cyber crime

Club Carlson . . . {14} Club Carlson exceeding expectations

Giving Back . . . {66} Responsible Business Action Month and more

Fast Forward . . . {18} Carlson Hotels’ high-tech vision for the future

Career Growth . . . {68} The Business School @ Carlson

Tech Services . . . {20} Expert help with renovations, new builds

Hotline News Plus . . . {70} Hotel happenings and the latest news

On The Cover /

RevGen success stories

Carlson Hotels prepares for robust growth in the years ahead.

/ Illustration by Kai & Sunny H otl in e th e a m e r i cas 5



H o t l i n e T h e A m e r i c a s | V211

Photography by Darrell Eager

Exec Column L EAD I N G G LO B AL H O TELS

the world contributed to this milestone, which illustrates the importance of having a worldwide loyalty program. This is only one of many areas where we see the advantages of working together globally to strengthen the company. To maximize our opportunities, Carlson Hotels has formed a global steering committee, a team of CarlsonSM executives that is working with our global partners to increase collaboration across theaters to benefit the company’s investors, hotels and employees. The committee’s mission is to develop and share best practices and drive synergies across our three theaters: the Americas; Asia Pacific; and Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The committee will be working closely with our partners around the world: The Rezidor Hotel Group, Radisson Edwardian Hotels and Park Plaza Hotels Ltd., in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as Radisson Hotels Latin America and Atlantica Hotels International in the Americas. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of this global approach. The Power of One Carlson The steering committee has identified four areas as immediate priorities, where adopting global strategies will strengthen our companies. Revenue Generation. Along with building the robustness of shared global programs, such as Club Carlson, our global distribution system, and our brand Web and mobile sites, Carlson Hotels continues to look for ways to add value. For example, the company is adding offices to its global sales network and is emphasizing the need to sell hotels across all theaters through new sales incentive plans. In addition, we will roll out our Stay-Night Automated Pricing (SNAP) optimization tool globally. With revenue-enhancing tools such as SNAP, we will be able to capture USD 400 million in incremental revenue across the system. Branding. Carlson Hotels will continue to define and implement brand strategies across theaters.

Strength in Unity Together, we are greater than the sum of our parts. I By Thorsten Kirschke


t’s only fitting that on the seventh day of the seventh month this year, we enrolled our 7th million member in Club CarlsonSM. The special guest was enrolled by a front desk agent at the Radisson Blu Hotel Delhi, India. While the number in itself is remarkable, it’s important to remember that all of our hotels around

6 Ho tline T H E A ME R ICAS

Ph ot o g ra p hy c ou rt e s y o f Ca rl s o n H o te l s

Thorsten Kirschke, chief operating officer, Carlson Hotels, and president, Carlson Hotels, Americas Kirschke and his executive team are increasing global collaboration.

Destinations Afar This page, clockwise from top left: Glass wine tower at the Radisson Blu Hotel Zurich Airport; the Radisson Blu Hotel Berlin’s cylindrical aquarium; the Radisson Blu Plaza Resort Phuket Panwa Beach overlooking Thailand’s Makham Bay.

World Class This page, clockwise from top left: the Radisson Hotel Aracaju on Atalaia Beach in Brazil; the Schiaparelli Suite at the May Fair Hotel in London; Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London (left foreground); Radisson Petra la Dehesa Hotel in Santiago, Chile.

Hotline The Americas | V211

Exec Column Carlson Hotels’ Global Partners By developing global brand standards that can be locally tailored and sharing concepts such as the Radisson® Business Class room program, we will build brand awareness, drive revenue and increase guest satisfaction. Sourcing. By working with vendors on a global basis, we can leverage greater volumes to lower supply costs for our hotels. Communication. Through seamless internal and external communications, we’ll be able to keep everyone informed of our progress. For example, in Hotline The Americas, we will be keeping hotels and employees in the Americas updated on the news from other theaters. With that in mind, here is a look at what’s going on around the world of Carlson Hotels. The Rezidor Hotel Group In mid-June, the senior leadership teams of Carlson Hotels and our Brussels-based partner company Rezidor came together to increase the level of our strategic partnership and leverage our combined strengths to become a more powerful contender in the global hospitality arena. Already, the two companies had worked together to identify the four global strategies. Our June meeting cemented an agreement to jointly manage key functions through collaborative working groups and common processes under the authority of the global steering committee. Over the coming months, you will be hearing more about the joint priorities and action plans we’ve committed to so we can bring Carlson Hotels and Rezidor closer together. Radisson Edwardian Hotels In England, our partner company Edwardian has continued to invest heavily in our brands, including a recent USD 150 million investment in the famous Radisson Edwardian May Fair Hotel in London. Edwardian also just completed a USD 24 million renovation of Radisson Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel, located in London’s popular Covent Garden. Park Plaza Hotels Ltd. Our partner Park Plaza Hotels also has a strong foothold in London, having invested USD 1.1 billion

in that city alone over the last decade. The company’s prestigious flagship, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London, opened in September 2010 and is one of the largest hotels in the Carlson portfolio. Despite the global economic downturn, Park Plaza Hotels has remained committed to its growth strategy in London, as well as mainland Europe and the Middle East, opening two newly built hotels, acquiring three hotels and increasing ownership in four hotels to 100 percent across the region last year. Carlson Hotels, Asia Pacific Under the leadership of Simon Barlow, president, Carlson Hotels, Asia Pacific, we are working on doubling our portfolio in the rapidly growing markets of the Asia Pacific theater—including India, China and Thailand—to more than 260 hotels by 2015. In April, Carlson Hotels announced plans to grow the number of Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM hotels in India to more than 50 in the next 10 years. In China, we currently have 12 hotels under development with aggressive plans for even further growth in this rapidly growing market, and in Thailand, we have four operational hotels and two more hotels in development. Carlson Hotels has also made significant revenuegeneration investments in Asia Pacific, including a huge focus on boosting outbound business to other theaters. In July, the company also rolled out the first brand campaign for Asia Pacific. The aim of this USD 2 million investment is to create a strong buzz around the Radisson BluSM brand. A Global Team With the increased collaboration across theaters and with our partner companies, achievements such as the growth of Club Carlson point to an unfolding global success story. We will exceed our 2013 goal of 5 million new loyalty program members by 1 million! By November, we will have launched the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago—you’ll be able to read about this new flagship and many more developments in the next issue of Hotline as we paint the world Blu. Together under the Carlson flag, what else can we achieve? As One Carlson, with a unified team steering the ship, the possibilities are endless. ■

The Rezidor Hotel Group With more than 400 hotels in 63 countries, Rezidor operates Carlson’s hotel brands in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  adisson R Edwardian Hotels This key partner operates 14 Radisson® hotels in England.  ark Plaza Hotels Ltd. P With a portfolio of nearly 5,500 rooms, this partner company is developing Park Plaza®, Carlson Hotels’ upscale contemporary brand, across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  adisson Hotels Latin R America (RHILA) Headquartered in Miami, Florida, RHILA operates Radisson hotels in Central and South America.  tlantica Hotels A International With more than 3,700 employees, Atlantica develops, leases and manages Radisson, Park Plaza and Park Inn by Radisson hotels across Brazil.

H otline TH E A M ER I CAS 9

Employee p y Profile

Fact | Park Inn by Radisson added 1,804 rooms this year.

H otl i n e T h e A me r i c a s | V211

Photography by Tara Donne


David McCord | Mechanicsburg, Pa. Superstar Park Inn by Radisson employee never says no. | By Judy Kirkwood


avid McCord’s job title on his business card for the Park Inn by Radisson Harrisburg West Hotel is “manager of first and last impressions.” (His other job designation is front office manager.) McCord’s bottom line for making a good impression? “We don’t say ‘no’ to guests.” “Dave takes tremendous ownership of the guest experience,” General Manager Daniel Richardson notes. “If a guest has an issue, he will follow up until he feels the guest has not only been fully satisfied, but will return.” Reflecting the Park Inn by Radisson brand’s “Adding Color to Life” service philosophy of delivering a colorful, positive and fun experience to guests, McCord literally puts himself out there for visitors. A life-size cutout of McCord greets guests so they can physically identify the person who can answer all questions and solve all problems during a hotel stay. The cutout is part of McCord’s “Save the Dave” campaign. “Save the Dave is a fun way to let guests know I will help them with any issue there is, no matter what, because if they’re not satisfied I could lose my job,” says McCord. As an example of his dedication to the campaign, on a weekend when the hotel was completely sold out, an older couple called to say they needed a refrigerator to keep medications cold. There were no extra refrigerators. McCord went to a nearby hardware store and bought a refrigerator for the room. McCord even makes sure he is “there” when he’s away. “I hosted a surprise VIP dinner for a group of guests that come to town annually for an outdoor sports show,” he says. “These guests have been staying here for years and have grown to expect me here. I happened to be out of town, but made special arrangements with the help of my general manager for the hotel to host a thank you dinner—it was a big success.” McCord constantly monitors the hotel log, which lists guest issues, preferences and suggestions for seamless high-quality service. “Dave doesn’t leave at night until he’s sure there are no open issues on the log—such as a guest needing towels or a phone not working,” Richardson says. If it sounds like 27-year-old McCord was born for hotel management, consider that he started working as a desk clerk at this property when he was in college. Although he was studying criminal justice, he fell in love with the hotel industry and is now working to finish his degree in business. McCord knows that although the Harrisburg West Hotel’s 22 acres help make a grand first impression—with landscaped gardens, picnic areas, volleyball courts and a miniature golf course—nothing brings people back like a good last impression. And that’s the biggest part of his job. ■

C arlso n H o t els | H otli n e T H E A M E RI C AS


H o t l i n e T h e A m e r i c a s | V211

Accessible to All New accessibility standards set to take effect. | By Mark Caskie


n sports, it’s the dramatic scores that most often make the highlight reels, but avoiding penalties is just as important. Like a winning sports team, hotel owners and staff need to work together to avoid potential legal penalties. Case in point: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The fine for a first infraction is USD 55,000. A second violation could cost more than USD 100,000. The ADA’s new 2010 Standards, the first major revision to the ADA since it was enacted 20 years ago, will have far-reaching effects for hotels. “The new regulations really do cover everything from the time that the guest first makes a reservation until his or

1 2 H o tline T H E A MERICAS

her departure,” says Genevieve Beck, vice president, Legal, Carlson Hotels, Americas. The 2010 Standards related to two key areas—reservations and accessible design—will go into full effect on March 15, 2012. The 2010 Standards clarify the need to provide disabled guests with the same ability to reserve a room as nondisabled guests. “It affects all channels of the reservation system—whether by telephone, online reservations or a third-party travel provider. All need to offer the same options for booking a reservation to a disabled guest as to a nondisabled guest,” Beck says. The new regulations will require training at both Carlson Hotels’ call center and at individual hotels. Hotel employees will need to understand and be able to communicate the nature of features within accessible rooms and provide informed service for disabled guests throughout their stays. Properties also need to provide Carlson Hotels with accurate information regarding accessibility, so that the company can likewise communicate with guests. Hotels currently under construction or undergoing major renovations have the option of meeting either the original 1991 or the new 2010 regulations prior to March 15, 2012. After that date, hotels must meet the 2010 Standards. “Many hotels across the brands are in the midst of renovations under Product Improvement Plans. As they make those renovations, they need to make sure they are in compliance with the law,” Beck notes. Some aspects of the 2010 Standards apply to all hotels, regardless of whether they are carrying out renovations. These new requirements primarily apply to public spaces within the hotel. Two important examples are hotel pools and exercise areas. Compliance makes good business sense. “Not being in compliance with the ADA these days could be extremely damaging to a brand or a hotel,” Beck says. “It is all of our hotels’ responsibility to make sure that they are operating in compliance with all applicable laws, including the ADA.” Beck recommends that hoteliers check with the American Hotel and Lodging Association ( for additional information on the new 2010 Standards. ■

I l l us t ra t i on b y S h on a ug h R a e

Raising the Bar

AQUA HOTEL, CHICAGO Illustration by Darrell Eager


UNIQUELY CHICAGO . ENTIRELY RADISSON BLU. We are excited to introduce our chic new Radisson Blu in downtown Chicago. Open for bookings from October 31, 2011. Our Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago is the contemporary debut of Radisson Blu in North America. A true representation of our brand, it is destined to become a destination in itself. Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, it is within touching distance of the Financial District, Millennium    

       Mile shopping area, and the Chicago lakefront and all its entertainment attractions.


SACIREMA EHT eniltoH | sletoH noslraC

Fact | Earned Club CarlsonSM Concierge Elite nights roll over to the next year.

Photography by Adam Voorhes

Campaign g Carlson

After a big launch, Club CarlsonSM exceeds all expectations. | By Virginia Citrano


H o t l i n e T h e A me ri c as | V211

Club Carlson


hey say you can’t spin straw into gold. But Carlson Hotels has spun its long-standing rewards program goldpoints plusSM into a new loyalty program that absolutely shines. Introduced on March 31 of this year, the new, enhanced guest rewards program, Club Carlson, is ahead of schedule on meeting ambitious enrollment goals after an international advertising campaign helped launch the program. All of this translates into big gains for Carlson Hotels, as well as its guests and employees. Big Boost | After Club Carlson’s debut, Carlson Hotels saw an uptick in already surging loyalty program enrollment levels. April enrollments set a monthly record of 124,000, and overall enrollments are now up 32 percent year-over-year. Visits to the redemption hub,, have almost doubled year-over-year, and booked revenue is already up more than 40 percent. The goal, says Heather Passe, vice president, Marketing, Customer Relationship Management and E-Commerce, Carlson Hotels, is to reach 1.5 million new loyalty members in the first year of the new program. If enrollments in Club Carlson continue at their current pace, Carlson Hotels will easily exceed that number, as well as its overarching Ambition 2015 growth strategy goal to double the loyalty program’s membership by adding 5 million new members from 2010 to 2013. On July 7, Carlson Hotels reached an important milestone, enrolling its 7th million member into the program—the company is now on track to beat the 2013 goal by 1 million. New Rewards | A host of improvements to the program is helping to draw in new customers, as well as retain and re-engage current Club Carlson members. In one of the biggest changes, free nights now start at only 9,000 points, which is down from 15,000 points under goldpoints plus, and the company has eliminated blackout dates on standard rooms. Some of the other new offerings include a partnership with Club Med® that provides U.S. and Canadian members with savings on 80 all-inclusive resorts worldwide and 20 new retail and restaurant partners with redemption options that start at 6,500 points. The new program also introduces Club Carlson Concierge, a top-tier loyalty level for Carlson Hotels’ most dedicated customers. The Concierge tier offers such benefits as complimentary room upgrades, continental breakfast, a 75 percent point bonus for stays and special access to a global concierge line for restaurant reservations and event tickets.

Members ON 07.07.11



1 6 H otlin e T H E A ME RICAS

an estimated 25 million people in USA Today, the national daily newspaper. Also in USA Today, Carlson Hotels garnered some favorable public relations buzz in March with a 16-page special supplement that focused on consumer loyalty programs. Inside the supplement, Passe shared her thoughts on how loyalty programs have impacted the travel industry in a “Panel of Experts” column and mentioned the Club Carlson “Do The Math” website, located at, where consumers are able to compare how quickly they can earn free nights with various hotel brands. The back page of the supplement featured a full-color advertisement for Club Carlson. Employee Benefits For hotel employees, the loyalty program is a way to earn additional income and benefits. John Arnold has been the front desk clerk at the Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Effingham, Illinois, for the past four years and a top enroller in goldpoints plus for much of that time. He’s been able to carry that momentum right into the new Club Carlson program. For April, the first full

Ph ot o g ra p hy c ou rt e s y o f Ca rl s o n H o te l s


Ph o to g ra p hy c o ur te s y of Ca rl s o n H o t el s

7 10

Global Promotion None of this would have been possible without a major investment on the part of Carlson Hotels. The company put USD 10 million in the new loyalty program, which encompasses its 1,068 hotels in 77 countries. The investments include enhanced websites for member information and redemptions, mobile apps for the Android and iPhone in 13 different languages—which have received high marks from users—and a broad advertising campaign. “This is a worldwide effort,” says Passe. “For example, as part of our marketing campaign, we have blanketed the terminals at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, Chicago’s Midway and O’Hare, and London’s Heathrow with signage. We have an online ad campaign in the United States, as well as in China, Germany, Norway and Sweden.” The ads direct interested travelers who are not yet members to a special introductory site, Carlson Hotels has also spread the word in print, including unique, quarter-page, checkerboard spread advertisements that were viewed by

Left: Travelers take a technology break at airport Internet stations sponsored by Carlson Hotels. Right: The company attracts frequent fliers’ attention with airport signage, such as this display at Chicago O’Hare.

month of Club Carlson, Arnold made an aweinspiring 151 enrollments. “I want to show other people in the front desk capacity that there is money to be made beyond the basic paycheck,” Arnold says. Every guest that he attracts to Carlson’s loyalty programs translates into points he can put on a Visa payment card that he uses to visit a daughter in Florida who has been ill with cancer. What’s the secret to his success? “I’m not afraid to ask people,” says Arnold quite simply. “I’m not afraid of ‘No’ because I see the value of the program on my part and on the guests’ part.” Despite all the benefits, some guests do decline Arnold’s offer, but he doesn’t take it personally. “I tell them, here’s the material, read it tonight, and when you come down at checkout tomorrow, let the people at the desk know your decision. I have converted people that way.” The Revolution Rolls On For the future, Passe’s team has begun work on new loyalty program projects for mobile devices and the Web. “These will allow us to do smarter one-to-one customer communica-

tions and marketing,” says Passe, “and tie it to other customer-facing systems.” It will also enable Carlson Hotels to do more unique marketing, she promises. The results of this USD 2 million investment should be ready for users in the first quarter of 2012. This fall, Carlson Hotels will also unveil what Passe is calling another significant marketing push that will be interactive and include a viral marketing component, aimed at raising Club Carlson member interest in Chicago’s new Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. And soon, the credit cards that guests use could also have a Club Carlson stamp. The company is unveiling a co-branded credit card for Club Carlson that will allow members to earn points for all their purchases. “The bank card is an important part of the portfolio for a loyalty program,” says Passe. As Arnold notes, the program will continue to build momentum because everyone sees the benefits. “I get points from Carlson Hotels, and the guests get points for their travel. The hotel wins because the people I enroll come back to see us.” ■





H otl i n e TH E A M ER I CAS 17

Fast Forward

Fact | Club CarlsonSM members can book their stay using mobile applications.

H o tl i ne Th e Am er i ca s | V211


Testingg Ground

Technology gurus help boost revenue and customer satisfaction. | By Jennifer Chappell Smith


hat if guests could forgo fumbling with the hotel phone and order room service from an app on their smartphone instead? What if they could breeze by the front desk upon arrival and check into their rooms using their iPads? And what if researching a hotel online were simpler? Those are the kinds of scenarios Carlson Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Steve Brown thinks about and looks to his colleagues to imagine and test. “I’m most excited about improving the customer experience while we drive revenue,” Brown says. “My hope is we can use technology to enhance guests’ stays. We want guests to have access to the latest in-room entertainment options, from Wi-Fi to Internet radio, along with the ability to interact with the hotel staff using the technology of their choice.”

Brown envisions a day when guests can signal for laundry service from their laptop, or report a maintenance issue on their iPhone. Already, some rooms at the new Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago, opening this fall, will offer an iPad for guests to use during their stay. Charged with helping hotels to generate more revenue and increase guest satisfaction, Brown and his teams are working on projects that include loyalty and brand website and mobile application improvements; revenue optimization through smarter tools and strategies; and better ways to leverage business data. “We want to shift more customer purchases to the Web,” says Brown. “It’s a high-priority item and integrates with the loyalty experience.” To help Carlson Hotels stay ahead of the competition, Brown is keeping the creative fires blazing.

Illustration by Ilovedust

“Most innovation starts small, which can be lost within bigger business priorities,” says Brown. To ensure ideas develop, he’s helped create Carlson Hotels’ Innovation Agenda, which has four components: 1. HOTEL INNOVATIONS TEAM. Brown and key executives meet monthly to discuss innovation and gain commitment from the whole organization. 2. SMALL INNOVATION TEAMS. Brown has dispatched groups of thinkers to focus on areas such as speeding up the check-in/check-out process; developing in-room entertainment and the interactive experience; and using opt-in data to personalize experiences for guests. 3. INNOVATION LABS. Under Brown, brainstorming doesn’t occur only in conference rooms. Carlson Hotels has developed innovation labs—guest room prototypes at its Minneapolis headquarters and

area hotels to test new developments. (Be sure to check out the next issue of Hotline The Americas for a behind-the-scenes look at the labs’ work.) 4. CUSTOMER INVOLVEMENT. Carlson Hotels is working to allow guests to create their own experience, Brown says. “We can bring thousands of customers together virtually, incorporate their feedback and let them help design and build the experience. In the dynamic world of social media, we need to be proactive in the dialogue.” With technology innovations in place, Brown believes customers will come away with the feeling that CarlsonSM hotels are more progressive and convenient, and employees will have a much easier time serving them. “We would like to get staff out front and always available,” he says, “and let technology work behind the scenes.” ■

“I’m most excited about improving the customer experience while we drive revenue.” — Steve Brown, senior vice president and chief information officer, Carlson H ot l i n e TH E A M E RI CAS 19

H o t l i n e T h e A m e r i c a s | V211

Photography by James Schnepf

Tech Services

Operation Renovation p

Technical Services helps owners make their hotels shine. | By Marcia Jedd

E “If improvements are done in the right areas … we all win together as a company.” — Christian Urbat, senior vice president, Technical Services, Carlson Hotels, Americas

2 0 H otlin e th e ame ricas

xperienced hoteliers will tell you: Firstclass hotels require first-class support. As Radisson®, Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM and Park Inn by Radisson owners step up to the plate with investments in projects such as Product Improvement Plan (PIP) implementation and other renovations, one of the most important resources they have is the expertise of the Carlson Hotels Technical Services team. By calling on the Technical Services department at the beginning of their projects, owners bring in a partner that not only shares the goal of making Carlson Hotels’ brands the leaders of their segments but also comes to the table with a deep understanding of Carlson Hotels’ operational procedures, a talent pool of experienced consultants and a focus on saving hoteliers time and money. The overarching role of Technical Services is to ensure that hotels are successful in achieving brand performance standards when renovating or upgrading. “We have architects, interior designers, project managers and operational specialists available to support franchisees’ projects at no extra cost to them,” says Christian Urbat, senior vice president, Technical Services, Carlson Hotels, Americas. “We consult with the owner to guide their team of consultants so that hotels meet the brands’ design and operational standards.”

Technical Services provides support on projects as simple as replacing carpets or as complex as redesigning an entire hotel. In the case of major improvement projects, by calling in Technical Services early on to vet their plans, hoteliers can avoid cost overruns and false starts. “Without proper planning, we’ve seen projects tending to go over budget, and then having to be scaled back at a very late point of time or even abandoned, which costs owners more money and time than it has to,” Urbat says. Developing the best PIP to meet the demands of the local marketplace is critical to staying competitive. To this end, Urbat credits district directors for having their finger on the pulse of their brands—whether Radisson, Country Inns & Suites or Park Inn by Radisson—and on the pulse of their geographic regions. “Our district directors are familiar with the competition and conditions in their market,” he says. Technical Services can also provide insights into improving both revenue generation and the guest experiences based on successful design concepts. “Anything that touches the guest or that can serve to increase revenue for the hotelier is important,” Urbat says. “For example, even if a hotel isn’t in need of a major renovation, it may need to replace TVs or lighting.” For guest room renovations, Urbat encourages hoteliers to use pre-selected designs so it’s less expensive: five new designs for Radisson, four color schemes for Country Inns & Suites or the primary colors for Park Inn by Radisson. “Using the pre-established guest room packages may be less expensive and most likely will ensure the least amount of disruption at your hotel with the quickest conversion times,” he says. “When you hire your own designer, there can be design iterations and pricing surprises.” For any project, Urbat wants hotel owners to know that Technical Services is ready and willing to help. As a first step, owners should contact their district director. “We are here to assist owners in making financially prudent choices in the way they implement their improvement plans,” Urbat says. “If improvements are done in the right areas, it can increase the value of their properties and enhance the guest experience. We all win together as a company.” ■

This page: Carlson Hotels’ Technical Services department played a major role in the design and construction of the new Radisson Hotel Menomonee Falls in Wisconsin.

H otl i n e TH E A M E RI CAS 49

H o t l i n e T h e A m e r i c a s | V 2 11

Moneyy Matters

True Believers

Carlson Hotel managers snap up revenue opportunities. | By Suzanne Bopp

From left: Dianne Heuvelmans, general manager, Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Milwaukee West–Brookfield; Cheryl Mantia, director of Revenue Management, Radisson Hotel Rochester Riverside.


H otline th e americas


ianne Heuvelmans, general manager of the Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Milwaukee West–Brookfield in Wisconsin, was somewhat skeptical when she started using SNAP (Stay-Night Automated Pricing) last year. “For us, it was a big leap of faith,” she says. “We probably used it for six or eight weeks to get comfortable with it and understand what it was seeing versus the demand we were seeing.” Heuvelmans quickly became a SNAP convert as the program started proving itself, increasing rates and profitability. Once she and other hotel management understood that SNAP was actually seeing things before they did, they turned the autopilot function on—automatically accepting SNAP’s recommendations for rate changes of USD 30 or less. “Where before we might have sold out at USD 129, we now raise the rate to USD 159. We may not sell out, but we make more money.” Market Shifts SNAP is just one of the revenue-enhancing tools and programs available to CarlsonSM hotels to help them cope with a rapidly

Photography by Darrell Eager

Photography by Kevin Miyazaki and Kate Melton

changing industry environment. The new transparency of distribution channels to consumers means hotels can no longer rely on those channels to segment demand. Moreover, the channels themselves are blurring and becoming less distinct. For example, online retailer Expedia, which usually targets leisure travelers, is entering the businesstravel arena with Egencia, an online, full-service travel management product. The result? “Unless you find a way to rethink how you price, inevitably, your pricing structure is going to slide down to your lowest price point across all channels,” says Fred Deschamps, vice president, Global Revenue Optimization, Carlson Hotels. To help their hotels avoid that outcome and maximize their profits, Carlson Hotels offers a number of revenue optimization solutions. Pricing Help Simplified SNAP was created out of necessity: The economic downturn had caused a drop in occupancy rates and stymied traditional revenue optimization models. “Those models utilize estimates of excess demand to recommend foregoing some lower-priced demand to save space for higher-priced demand,” Deschamps says. “But when you don’t have a lot of excess demand, those models struggle.” SNAP relies on different parameters: the elasticity of demand itself and competitive pricing for comparable products. By 8 a.m. each day, SNAP delivers pricing recommendations for the next 120 days; hotels can accept the recommendations or not. Initially, some hotels were apprehensive about using it, perceiving a loss of control over a major decision point. “But they’ve come to view SNAP as it was intended, which is as a pricing assistant,” Deschamps says. “With the success of early adopters, we’re seeing acceptance of the tool climbing fast. For hotels that follow the recommendations of SNAP consistently, we’re seeing a significant improvement in their RevPAR [revenue per available room] index, raising it by two to four points relative to what it otherwise would have been.”

Improve Your Bottom Line Now •E  nsure visibility. Make sure you are open at the highest price points in thirdparty channels, so customers who are researching properties can see your hotel. • Float rates. Have third-party rates float with rack rates automatically, while SNAP optimizes those on a daily basis. • Know your market. Look outside your forecasting reports when setting your competitive set on SNAP; the two don’t have to be the same. • Check for accuracy. Work with your thirdparty market managers to make sure that your hotel is placed correctly, your descriptions are up-to-date and your promotions are listed. • Offer packages. They don’t necessarily mean discounted rates, but customers perceive them as values.

H otl in e TH E A M ERI CAS 23

Hotline The Americas | V211

Money Matters Stand By For More Revenue As part of its mission to help hotels capture more money, Carlson Hotels offers eStandby, an online tool that allows hotels to approve discounts on unsold room upgrades. “I love what eStandby has done for us,” says Jennifer Pinegar, reservation supervisor, Radisson Fort McDowell Resort, Scottsdale, Arizona. “It gives the resort a chance to make some extra money at a time when we normally wouldn’t have.” Easy Money Hotels can sell unsold inventory at a discount themselves, rather than going through a thirdparty channel. It’s sold on a stand-by basis, without drawing demand from customers willing to pay full price for a confirmed upgrade. Satisfied Guests Customers like the option to upgrade and remember hotels that offer it. Incremental Revenue There’s a fee for eStandby, but hotels are only charged if they sell product using the service. Hotels that embrace eStandby are making healthy profits. Participating properties have averaged USD 15 per room night awarded.


H otline th e americas

Not only can SNAP—which is free in 2011—increase RevPAR index, it can also offer another advantage to hotels: time savings. “The methods it uses—to collect competitive rates and try to have an estimate of your own rate elasticity—that is a fairly standard way of pricing,” Deschamps says. “What is groundbreaking is having a system that can do it for you. That saves an enormous amount of time.” Taking SNAP’s Advice Since the Radisson Hotel Rochester Riverside in New York started using SNAP last year, the hotel’s average rates have gone up by 20 or 30 percent, jumping to a three-digit average rate. SNAP’s reports, especially its rate matrix, have helped Cheryl Mantia, director of Revenue Management at the hotel, make sure their rates are the same through all third-party channels. She advises hotels using SNAP to make sure the weighted averages of competitors are where they need to be, and to keep an eye on group bookings. For the most part, the system functions independently. “If you have a convention this year, but not next year, SNAP might think you’re busy this time of year,” Mantia says. “Otherwise, SNAP mostly takes care of itself.” Team Effort But SNAP isn’t the only revenue optimization program Carlson hotels can take advantage of. The company recently created the Revenue Improvement Process (RIP) when Carlson executives noticed a pattern. “Looking at our portfolio of hotels, we noticed that at any one time, there are hotels going through a transition—a new general manager, a renovation or a change in the competitive set,” Deschamps says. “We realized those hotels would benefit from some time-limited, focused attention.” Enter RIP. The RIP teams are made up of district directors, who spend at least half of their time finding and acting on revenue opportunities for hotels in their portfolios, and district revenue specialists, who help to find tailored solutions for

those opportunities. “We take a deep dive into their performance opportunities across all areas, then graduate them out of the program,” Deschamps says. By design, RIP is short term. “We come in, give our recommendations, start implementation and then we monitor performance.” Ripping Into Action When Heuvelmans’ hotel struggled earlier this year, her district director had some valuable suggestions. “We were not open on all third-party sites for dates far in the future,” Heuvelmans says. “If a guest was looking at Expedia for next summer, we wouldn’t show up; we were just using those thirdparty sites to fill last-minute needs. The district director suggested we open up at higher rates to show availability. That was a big light bulb for us. You don’t always need to offer the lowest rate on those sites.” She realized that some guests would discover that her hotel had availability on the thirdparty site and would later book through the hotel’s own website. The other change she made: Instead of listing rates as exact dollar amounts with third-party channels, she now lists rates as percentages so they fluctuate with SNAP’s recommendations. At the Radisson in Rochester, they also got help with the third-party channels from their RIP team. “How do we appear? How do we list room types? Do we appear as # 3 or # 10 on Expedia? Are the rates we’re supposed to have open actually open? They’ve got a map of things to look at,” Mantia says. “They’re very proactive.” The RIP teams’ efforts have consistently resulted in two- to four-point RevPAR increases at the hotels they’ve worked with, Deschamps says. Flexible Tools Still, the decision to accept the recommendations of the RIP team—or the recommendations of SNAP—remain solely with the hotel; Carlson has created these tools to help those hotels seeking assistance. “We’re trying to offer our hotels options,” Deschamps says. “How they respond is really their decision.” ■

Expanding our presence

Park Inn by Radisson is expanding with a bright, bold and fresh attitude. From the beauty of Vancouver, British Columbia, to the energetic rhythm of São Paulo, Brazil, our Americas hotels are part of a strong, global brand. Park Inn is rapidly expanding with an ambitious growth plan including 49 contracted hotels in the pipeline. Highly efficient, global in outlook and local in operation, with a fresh, upbeat and service–oriented experience, it’s clear why Park Inn by Radisson is one of the most exciting, growing brands.

+1 (800) 670 7275 ©2011 Park Inn by Radisson, Inc. All Rights Reserved. H otl in e TH E A M ERI CAS 25


GROWING Carlson Hotels is accelerating sustainability efforts, and now is a great time to get on board. By Jean T. Barrett | Photography by Roger Davies


H o tlin e TH E A MERICAS

Conscious and Committed

Radisson Hotel at Los Angeles Airport dedicates itself to environmentally sensitive business practices for travelers looking to minimize their travel carbon footprints.

H otl in e T H E A M E RI CAS


So Very Green

Drought-resistant landscaping and water-conserving groundskeeping practices keep the hotel’s exterior attractive and environmentally friendly.

Did you know?


Carlson Hotels currently has nearly 100 green-certified hotels—and continues to add to that total.

ust outside the front entrance of the Radisson Hotel at Los Angeles Airport is a sleek, stylish waste container with four receptacles labeled PAPER, CANS, PLASTIC and WASTE. The entryway trash and recycling bin makes a powerful visual statement, as does an identical container near the concierge, where guests can’t miss it. This hotel puts its green efforts front and center. But the hotel’s commitment extends to the back of the house, too. Head down one level to an area that guests seldom see: the loading dock. Food and Beverage Director Carlos Solis gestures to the enormous trash compactor that receives the non-recyclable waste generated by the hotel. “Our trash hauler used to pick this up twice a week,” Solis says. “Now it’s twice a month.” The effort keeps more than 100 tons of refuse out of the landfill each year. In 2009, the hotel became just the second in Los Angeles to achieve Silver Certification from the Green SealTM environmental certification program, and today it boasts a 4-Key rating from the eco-certification company Green Key Global. And this is just one example of Carlson’s nearly 100 green-certified hotels—a figure that’s climbing. A rigorous approach to going green ensures maximum benefits not only for the environment and in cost savings, but also in marketing and community relations. “It’s not enough to be green; you have to be able to measure your efforts,” emphasizes Brenda Schultz, director, Responsible Business, Carlson Hotels, Americas. “In the past, our hotels were doing things in this area, but they weren’t measuring it so that they could tell people about it in a meaningful way.” To provide hotels with the tools and structure to implement green programs, Carlson Hotels has partnered with Green Key Global to offer Green Key registration at a discounted rate. (See sidebar, “Turn the Key to Sustainability.”) “Green Key was created by hotels for hotels,” says Schultz. “It’s accessible; the self-assessment questionnaire is online and it’s easy to use.”

Another important tool is Energy Star Portfolio Manager, an online program that lets businesses determine energy and resource consumption and identify ways to reduce both. (See sidebar, “Energy Star Lights the Way,” page 30.) With CarlsonSM asking its hotels to target a 5 percent reduction in resource use this year, Energy Star Portfolio Manager can be integral to that effort. General Manager Cindy Boulton (below), who initiated the green program at the Radisson Los Angeles Airport, says that in the program’s first year, the hotel cut


Turn the Key to Sustainability

Green Key, with more than 1,500 members in North America, is the preferred green certification program of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. The process starts with a self-assessment questionnaire that defines where a property stands in terms of resource use and sustainability practices. Based on the assessment, Green Key generates a report of green “best practices” recommendations tailored to a hotel’s particular situation. The self-assessment yields a Green Key numerical ranking, from 1 to 5 Keys, and as a hotel implements recommendations in its Green Key report, it can improve its ranking. Protecting the environment is the right thing to do and can save significant amounts of money. But participating in Green Key also offers a number of benefits actually designed to bring customers in the door. Research shows that environmental initiatives are important to almost 40 percent of travelers, who may base lodging decisions on whether or not a property is “green.” Green Key certification may give a property entrée to green hotel lists on leading travel-booking websites. For the remainder of 2011, Carlson hotels can register with Green Key for just USD 450, a 25 percent discount. Has there ever been a better time to take the first step? Visit for more information. H otl in e T H E A M E RI CAS


Did you know?

The Radisson Los Angeles Airport hotel saved more than USD 50,000 by reducing electricity consumption.

electrical use by 17.5 percent, yielding more than USD 50,000 in savings. Other benefits include the listing of the hotel on green travel websites, enhanced employee morale and positive guest feedback. Hotels that have the most success with green initiatives incorporate continuous improvement into their sustainability efforts. The Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Calgary Airport in Alberta, Canada, has received a 3-Key rating from Green Key, but the hotel continues to seek ways to enhance its environmental profile. A recent initiative


Energy Star Lights the Way

How green is green? Measuring environmental initiatives at a busy hotel may seem challenging, but that’s where Energy Star Portfolio Manager comes in. The program was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an online tool to measure energy and water use, estimate a facility’s carbon footprint, and initiate and track improvements in energy efficiency and water savings. Currently, all corporate-managed Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM and Radisson® hotels are using the tool. By providing a calculated benchmark, it allows hoteliers to track the impact of environmental initiatives and prioritize capital projects such as heating and cooling upgrades and lighting replacement programs. The online tool is free and available to all hotels. After completing the initial assessment, a hotel receives a rating from one to 100, based on comparisons with data from similar establishments in a U.S. survey. A rating of 75 or higher, at a property running at or above 55 percent occupancy, allows any U.S. hotel to apply for the Energy Star label. Hotels can display the label—familiar to consumers who have purchased major appliances— inside the hotel, use it on their websites and publicize it in communications programs. To start using Energy Star Portfolio Manager, visit


H o tlin e TH E A MERICAS

is the recycling of leftover guest amenities such as shampoo and soap. The hotel ships the products to a nonprofit organization that recycles them and provides them to homeless shelters and underdeveloped areas of the world. “It’s a great solution,” says Executive Housekeeper Mary Pokoyoway. Other green resources may be close at hand. It was a vendor who mentioned a Santa Clara County toilet recycling program to the chief engineer at the Country Inn & Suites, Sunnyvale, California. The hotel applied for the program and received approval. A few months later the county installed 183 dual-flush toilets valued at nearly USD 400 each. “We didn’t have to pay a dime,” says Assistant General Manager Christopher Zurek. “We’re constantly looking for more programs like that, and there are a lot of them.” With any green program, an effective communications effort is integral to success. “If you’re doing all these green initiatives and you don’t tell anybody, you’re only seeing a fraction of the benefits,” says Schultz. Communicating internally helps engage employees and keep them committed to sustainability efforts. Getting the word out to guests and external audiences builds loyalty and enhances a hotel’s image. Digital signage throughout the Radisson Hotel at Los Angeles Airport highlights some of the hotel’s efforts. Video is another key component of the hotel’s communications program. Staff members shoot video to document a variety of environmental activities. The hotel uploads the videos to YouTube, and they also run on the hotel’s in-room TV channel, leading to positive guest feedback and recognition for employees who participate in the programs. Too busy to go green? Boulton has heard that before. She points out that her hotel, a popular choice for layover travelers and quick business meetings, has an average guest stay of 1.25 days and routinely runs at 88 percent occupancy. “Other properties say they can’t do it,” says Boulton. “But if we can do it, anyone can.” ■

Drop by Drop

Leak detection and prevention maintenance, as well as low-flow plumbing fixtures help the hotel conserve water. Employees are trained in conservation methods and energy awareness.

SIMPLE. FRESH. REAL. By Pam Brandon | Photography by Seed9

With diners demanding new options, Carlson Hotels’ restaurants serve up

all-natural and organic ingredients, as well as locally sourced foods.


H o tlin e TH E A MERICAS

Opposite page: Locally sourced strawberries and greens add a fresh touch to menus. This page: Executive Chef Romel Griarte at the Radisson Hotel Admiral Toronto–Harbourfront digs into a chocolate mousse made from avocado.

H otl in e T H E AM E RI CAS


This page, top: Carlson Hotels’ restaurant concept Filini features grilled salmon with citrus on its menu. Bottom: Filini’s menu focuses on unpretentious dishes, such as fresh steamed vegetables served with a lemon wedge.


H o tlin e TH E A MERICAS

Options Are Key

Carlson Hotels’ strategy for meeting guests’ changing food preferences is to provide them with a wide variety of dining selections. “Rather than imposing new menus on our restaurants, we’re offering better alternatives,” says Larsson. “Healthy eating with an array of options is the objective.” However, this increased emphasis on healthful foods doesn’t mean restaurants need to spell out what’s healthy on the menu, says Larsson. While Carlson Hotels’ RBG restaurants denote some dishes as “heart friendly,” Larsson says he likes to give diners credit for making educated selections. “People on a diet seek out what they should eat,” he says. He advocates giving guests the option to choose, for instance, either low-fat chimichurri, a marinade for grilled meats, or aromatic butter with a steak, and also giving them the choice of a salad or potatoes as a side dish. “Mixing and matching great products is more important than creating menu combinations,” he says.

Ph o t og ra p h y c o ur te s y of Ca r ls o n Ho t el s


hile it’s fun to splurge while on vacation or even on a business trip, today’s travelers are much savvier about healthful, fresh dining. Carlson Hotels has caught on to the demand by offering delicious, health-conscious options, such as all-natural and organic products, as well as locally sourced foods. “I’m convinced that diners are willing to pay a premium for natural and organic products,” says Christer Larsson, vice president, Food and Beverage, Carlson Hotels, Americas, “so these foods represent a genuine opportunity for our restaurants.” To help guide chefs, Carlson Hotels has created a core product list that includes cage-free eggs, natural ham and turkey breast, uncured bacon, premium-quality beef, and organic cheese. The product suggestions are definitely catching on, with more and more of Carlson Hotels’ kitchens procuring fresh, healthful foods. Increasingly, guests are also expressing their preference for locally grown produce

and meats. “In our managed hotels, we recommend that 30 percent of the menu come from local producers,” says Larsson. “We like to promote local dishes where it makes sense, but we still have to consider cost and be economically responsible.” Pricing is up to each hotel, taking into consideration what the market is willing to pay and what guests want. As the demand for sustainable, locally sourced food continues to grow, Carlson Hotels continues to develop new concepts such as FireLake, which is based on the original restaurant adjacent to the Radisson Plaza Hotel Minneapolis. FireLake features locally sourced ingredients, organic produce and grass-fed beef. The menu includes mesquite-grilled chops, steak and fish, along with prime rib and chicken prepared on a wood-burning rotisserie.

Right: Romel Griarte, executive chef at the Radisson Hotel Admiral Toronto–Harbourfront, serves up his signature salad with local greens, strawberries, goat cheese, candied pecans and a sherry-shallot vinaigrette.

Breakfast is Essential

Radisson® hotels aren’t the only ones transforming their food options for guests. The new breakfast at Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM is a big success, with its complimentary Be Our Guest Breakfast program, which includes an enhanced menu and more healthful options. From warm waffles to burritos and customized omelets, there’s something for every taste, with hot dishes offered on a rotational basis. Recognizing that tastes vary by region, hotels can customize to what best serves their markets. And a convenient grab-and-go bar includes fruit and granola bars. For 2011, the brand has raised its breakfast offering by another notch, with nondisposable dishware (See “Innovate Your Morning,” page 36.) Breakfast is one of the keys to happy guests, Larsson says, so Carlson Hotels has paid particular attention to the first meal of the day. “We picked healthier cereals for breakfast, trying to avoid high-sugar cereals,” he adds. “We used to offer five or six cereals and four of them were high in sugar, and now four of the five are healthier.” Special Events, Better Foods

Meetings and events are an important part of the hotel business mix, and the foods served on these occasions are also changing. Nowadays, planners are seeking healthful options for attendees. “The days are gone when you offered morning coffee at 10 a.m. with Danish,” says Larsson. “Now clients are asking for nuts, protein bars and brain food, looking for options that will keep them alert through the meeting.” Chefs in Carlson’s full-service hotels still have lots of choices, Larsson says, but the corporate food and beverage philosophy is simple: Start with great core products and attention to guests; then let each chef tell his own delicious story. ■

Catering to the Customer


ne Carlson Hotels’ chef who’s walking the healthful walk is Romel Griarte, executive chef at the Watermark restaurant in the Radisson Hotel Admiral Toronto–Harbourfront. He describes his cuisine at the Watermark as “bistro with an overlay of healthfulness.” He’s a big proponent of eating locally. Most of Griarte’s meats and poultry come from within a 30-mile radius. In the summertime, many dishes on the menu include local, fresh produce. His signature salad is fresh greens, strawberries, goat cheese, candied pecans and a sherry-shallot vinaigrette—“delicious, healthful textures and flavors,” he notes. Breakfast is his favorite meal of the day, and at Watermark he offers 12-grain waffles, steel-cut oats and a parfait made with low-fat Greek yogurt. But you also can order eggs Benedict and steak and eggs. “It’s all about choices,” says chef Griarte. “We want to be sure our guests have energy for the day.” For dinner, he serves glazed salmon with arugula and avocado salad with a citrus dressing, with every component adding a dash of healthfulness: The salmon has omega-3s, the arugula is a natural diuretic, the avocado adds good fat and the dressing is a splash of vitamin C. “I look at all the ingredients and how one’s body can use each one,” says Griarte. Because a number of diners have dietary restrictions, Griarte’s menu also addresses the challenges of specialized diets such as gluten free, low fat, low carb and low sodium. Along with regular white pizza dough, for instance, he also offers whole wheat and gluten free. “All I do is take the foods that everybody knows and give them a healthy twist,” he says. “I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel; I’m just trying to create delicious food that’s better for you.” ■ H otl in e T H E A M E RI CAS


Inn By Maria Lenhart | Photography by Adam Voorhes


H o tlin e TH E A MERICAS

vate Your Morning Cou By ntry In C ns & brea arlson SM Sui non kfas disp t ag redefin tes osa ain w es ble dish ith war e.

H otl in e T H E A M E RI CAS


What’s for Breakfast?

The new, high-quality, nondisposable diningware at Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM hotels is the fitting complement to the delicious array of hot and fresh dishes that are making the Be Our Guest Breakfast program an industry star. Menu choices such as eggs Benedict or build-your-own omelets deserve to be paired with real china and silverware. Carlson Hotels designed the food options to satisfy just about any morning preference. Light, fluffy waffles, breakfast burritos and savory buttermilk biscuits and gravy are among the soul-satisfying ways to start the day. At least four different hot dishes are presented during the week, while everyday choices include oatmeal and fresh fruit.

like the widescale program rollout will be a smashing success.


arl Eriksson, general manager of the Country Inn & Suites, Shoreview, Minnesota, knew that the brand

had hit on a winning concept when it announced the switch from disposable plates, cups and tableware to real china and silverware in its Be Our Guest Breakfast program. Still, after he introduced the new standard in his hotel last March, he was surprised by the results. “Overall, everything has been excellent, from waste reduction to cost savings,” he says. “And the guests have really enjoyed the change to nondisposable plates and cups. They keep telling us that they feel it’s a better value and more like eating at home.” The new nondisposable diningware program, first revealed at this year’s Carlson Global Hotels Business Conference, became a 2011 brand standard after favorable results in pilot tests last year. Many hotels have already made the change, with adoption to be completed brandwide by Oct. 31, 2011. With positive feedback from general managers like Eriksson rolling in each day, it’s looking


H o tlin e TH E A MERICAS

The enhancements take an industry-leading breakfast program to a whole new level in the midscale segment. “Offering a highquality breakfast is such an important factor in this market, and we’re continuing to innovate with it while remaining true to our brand identity, our DNA,” says Steve Mogck, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Midscale Brands, Carlson Hotels, Americas. “We need to keep changing as time goes by so we stay relevant to our guests’ needs and wants. It’s a process of constant evolution.” This particular innovation hits the sweet spot for guests and operators. Not only does the new nondisposable diningware increase guest satisfaction scores—it’s also good for the bottom line. “Our guests have been very happy with it, and they tell us so in Medallia surveys,” Mogck says. “And by eliminating disposable products, operating costs are reduced over time, so it makes business sense.” At Country Inns & Suites hotels that already have transitioned to nondisposable diningware, test data confirms that, despite set-up costs such as installing a dishwasher and purchasing inventory, hotels can expect to see an overall savings within two years. “What we found is

Ph o t og ra p h y c o ur te s y of Ca r ls o n Ho t el s

Everybody Wins

Clockwise from bottom left: The Be Our Guest Breakfast offers refreshing beverage selections; real china adds to a perfect place setting for eggs Benedict; white dishes have a clean, elegant look.

that washing dishes costs less than using disposable products,” Mogck says. In addition, it gives the brand a good story to tell. “This kind of environmental sustainability helps to differentiate us in the midscale brand segment—no other major brands among our competitors are doing this,” says Jim Grimshaw, senior director, Brand Program Development, Midscale Brands, Carlson Hotels, Americas. “It’s taking our Be Our Guest Breakfast program up a notch again.” A Practical Choice

Representing quality in both aesthetics and practicality, Vertex China and Libby Flatware, two of the leading names in commercial diningware, emerged as the top choices for the breakfast program. “The diningware selection process took into account several factors, including balancing design with function and ease of maintenance,” says Grimshaw. Another big consideration was to choose suppliers with the inventory and distribution capabilities to handle the sheer volume of hotels making the change from disposable to nondisposable diningware in a relatively short period. It was also important to select vendors that have established relationships with Carlson Hotels. “Leveraging our strategic supplier relationships allowed us to optimize cost to our hotels,” Grimshaw says. The white china plates, cups and bowls from Vertex and the dining utensils from Libby are both attractive and durable. “We liked the fact that the china has simple lines,” Grimshaw says. “White reinforces the perception of cleanliness, so that was another consideration.” Along with form and functionality, the dishware was also selected on the basis of size to ensure that it fit into the existing dishware display areas at the breakfast buffets. “We wanted hotels to be able to use the displayware they have just invested in for the Be Our Guest Breakfast program,” Grimshaw says. “So it was

Put to the Test

Choosing the right diningware for the Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM Be Our Guest Breakfast program was an in-depth process that began with Carlson Hotels contacting several commercial dishware vendors. Carlson Hotels’ program development team requested several sample dishware sets for evaluation. The team evaluated price, durability, design and the vendors’ ability to produce the necessary inventory for a rollout during the selection procedure. The team then subjected the dishware to test runs at several hotels—evaluating factors such as durability, care, and dishwasher water and electricity consumption—to ensure that the switch to nondisposable diningware made practical sense.



waste d e reduc year






important that the china worked with the plate and mug holders. “Guests are definitely noticing the change,” Grimshaw adds. “They get the green connection—the fact that nondisposable china and flatware are better for the environment. They also feel it provides a more upscale experience. Some even say that the food tastes better on real dishes.”

Smooth Transition Kay Halbin, general manager of the Country Inn & Suites, Freeport, Illinois, implemented


hotel savings over 10 years BY MAKING THE SWITCH


H o tlin e TH E A MERICAS

the nondisposable diningware program at her hotel early this year. “The guests absolutely love it. They really like drinking out of real coffee cups and eating off of real plates.” Halbin likes the fact that it offers a consistent level of quality that she believes will give the Country Inns & Suites brand a competitive edge. “This will really set our brand apart in the midtier category,” she says. “Like the breakfast program itself, it’s a really good thing that distinguishes us in the marketplace.” Hotel staff had to make some adjustments to accommodate the new standard, but they were minor. “We had to do a little reorganization, as we didn’t originally have a space for the dishwasher,” Halbin says. “My breakfast manager handled this well.”

Left to right: For the breakfast program, Carlson Hotels chose cups and glassware that balance attractiveness with durability; the new Be Our Guest Reception gives hotels the option to offer an evening reception with branded signage and menus.

The hotel hired a second person on a part-time basis to help during busy periods. “On weekends, we are filled with leisure travelers, so we need one person to run the breakfast and another to work in the dish area,” she says. “During the week, when we primarily get business travelers, my breakfast person has no trouble handling it alone.” Halbin credits her staff’s advanced planning for an easy transition. “The kickoff wasn’t a hard thing to do,” she says. “By the end of the week, when we had a basketball team in-house, we had everything running well.” Cutting Costs

Eriksson sees the program costing less over time, compared with the old disposable products. “There was some cost upfront, but we’re confident it will pay off,” he says. He’s also found the program reduces waste. “It has definitely cut down on the amount of garbage we have,” he says. “And there’s been a very limited amount of breakage.” John Delozier, regional vice president of Hospitality Lodging Investors, a hotel management company that operates Country Inns & Suites hotels in Gettysburg and York, Pennsylvania, is also very pleased with the

switch to nondisposable diningware that took place at the two hotels in April. “CarlsonSM made the rollout very easy,” Delozier says. “We sat down with Guy Beaulieu, the regional district director, who gave me a spreadsheet of suggestions for what we should order. We were able to get things up and running right away.” With both hotels in competitive markets, Delozier says the new diningware puts them on par with local hotels that have on-site restaurants and elevates them above those that are still using disposables. “The guests are finding it to be a really nice upgrade—more like eating in a restaurant,” he says. “This is one of the very best rollouts that Carlson has done for Country Inns & Suites in years.” ■

Be our Guest


leading breakfast program with nondisposable dishware isn’t the only new program making Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM the leader in its segment. The brand has created two programs to give operators new choices for serving guests—the new Inn Case MarketSM and Be Our Guest Reception. The Inn Case Market is an in-hotel convenience store concept in which guests may purchase sundry and food items, including microwavable light meals. A standardized format features branded signage and well-organized zones for snacks, frozen foods and beverages. Steve Mogck, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Midscale Brands, Carlson Hotels, Americas, notes that the Inn Case Market is an optional feature for hotels. “Whether or not hotels want to offer the Inn Case Market depends very much on location and market,” he says. “It makes sense for hotels with limited availability to nearby 24-hour food and beverage options.” Also optional, the just-launched Be Our Guest Reception is another way for hotels to offer added value for guests. For this complimentary evening guest reception, hotels can pick and choose from seven menu options that include a build-your-own potato bar, Mexican foods, appetizers, sliders and mini chicken sandwiches. Beverages can include beer and wine or soft drinks. “It is similar to our breakfast program in that it has branded signage and standardized menus that hotels can select from,” Mogck says. According to Mogck, Country Inns & Suites created the Be Our Guest Reception and Inn Case Market options in response to demand. “We saw that some hotels were setting up sundry stores or offering evening receptions, and we wanted to give them a standardized option that would give their guests a better experience,” he says. “When our guests encounter the branded version, it’s a more consistent offering.” ■ H otl in e T H E A M E RI CAS



Carlson Hotels, franchisees and employees are raising the standard for the Radisson® brand in the Americas. Results are starting to stack up.

RULES By Jennifer Chappell Smith | Photography by Amy Mikler


ou can see the changes at Radisson hotels across the Americas. Contemporary guest rooms in Nashville. A sleek and stylish lobby in Saskatchewan. The brandnew RBG bar and grill and Urban-style rooms at the new Radisson Hotel Menomonee Falls in Wisconsin. And while such makeovers are transforming the external appearance of the brand, Carlson Hotels continues to focus on boosting guest satisfaction—an ambition that requires the combined efforts of CarlsonSM, its hotels and its employees. Many team members already provide a model of success.

Renovations Across the Americas

In North America, the overwhelming majority of Radisson hotels have already signed Product Improvement Plans (PIPs), and renovations are in various stages of the process. “Almost 90 percent of Radisson hotels have committed to PIPs, and 70 percent of committed hotels are on track to complete their plans on time,” says Raj Rana, vice president, Radisson Franchise Operations, Carlson Hotels, Americas. “That’s good news.”


H o tlin e TH E A MERICAS

Opposite page: The clean lines of a Filini table setting reinforce the restaurant’s stylish, smart-casual concept. This page: An RBG chef stretches creative culinary skills while building a career.

H otl in e T H E A M E RI CAS


Southern Comfort Clockwise from top: Executive Housekeeper Christine Brinkman always has a smile at the Radisson Hotel Orlando; Maintenance Technician Jorge Valencia brightens the hallway; Manicured landscaping brings life to the hotel entrance.


H o tlin e TH E A MERICAS

For properties that have stalled, Carlson Hotels has a process to help get them compliant with brand guidelines. “The brand has every desire to work with willing owners who are showing momentum and sincerity to carry out the PIP work as committed,” Rana says. To help keep PIPs moving ahead, Carlson Hotels is reminding owners of deadlines, monitoring project status and scheduling talks to understand difficulties franchisees are facing with renovations, which often stem from funding issues. “Unfortunately, for non-compliant hotels that show no progress on their PIPs,” Rana adds, “we have to proceed with issuing notices of default, which can potentially lead to termination.” But with renovations clearly gaining momentum, along with a groundbreaking last spring for the Radisson Blu at Mall

Top Tips From the Field ATTENTION




Three of the services emphasized by the World of Radisson—the brand’s promise to exceed guest expectations at every touch point—depend heavily on hotel cleanliness and conditions. To fulfill the Radisson® commitment to Yes I Can! SM service, Attention to Detail and 100 Percent Guest Satisfaction, Christine Brinkman, executive housekeeper at the Radisson Hotel Orlando in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, and Richard Dominguez, chief engineer at the Radisson Hotel El Paso Airport in Texas, offer their advice. • Review staffers’ work. Sounds simple enough, but one of Brinkman’s golden rules is to always inspect what you expect. “If I sat in my office all day and did absolutely no checking on my employees, we wouldn’t have the same good results,” she says. • Smile. “We’re on stage,” Brinkman says. “Tell the guests ‘Yes, I can!’ on anything they ask.” • Treat your staff well. “My whole department is family,” Brinkman says. That attitude fosters the staff’s loyalty and dependability. • Follow through. Set a time frame for repairs or replacements and meet it, Dominguez says. • Enjoy your job. “If you just work for the hours, it’s not going to cut it,” Dominguez says.

of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, and the opening of the flagship Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago this fall, the vision for revitalization is becoming more concrete. “Franchisees are doing their part, and Carlson is doing its part by supporting the PIPs and targeting cities for growth,” Rana says. Clean Sweep

To create benchmarks for hotels in the Americas, the Quality Performance Review (QPR) process continues in 2011. By early summer, most hotels had completed one review—administered by the thirdparty customer experience auditor LRA Worldwide Inc.—and unannounced visits will continue into the fall. Employees such as Christine Brinkman, who oversees the housekeeping staff at the Radisson Hotel Orlando in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, will be ready. Her team already garnered a 9.23 score for guest room cleanliness, and with 40 years’ experience, she’s confident her well-trained staff won’t be caught off guard. Located near Disney World®, her hotel staff feels the pressure to please those who come for a dream vacation. The hotel was in great shape with a massive renovation before coming into the Radisson system in 2008, says Rana. Now, with some minor renovations planned for September, Brinkman will help compensate for any disruptions by maintaining her high standard of excellence in housekeeping. How does she do it? Brinkman uses a technique that she says could be applied to teaching almost anything: show, tell, do and review. “Show your staff how to do it. Tell them how to do it. Do it with them. Review their work after they do it by themselves,” she explains. “It’s an old timer’s tip.” Rana appreciates such dedication, saying the housekeeper has one of the hotel’s most important roles: “Housekeepers are the engineers’ ears and eyes. They’re the only hotel employees who are in every room on a regular basis.”

“Almost 90 percent of Radisson hotels have committed to PIPs, and 70 percent of committed hotels are on track to complete their plans on time.” —Raj Rana, vice president, Radisson Franchise Operations, Carlson Hotels, Americas

H otl in e T H E A M E RI CAS


Rana says it takes both engineers and housekeepers, working in tandem, to please guests. Cleanliness marks in the Americas are now at an all-time high of 95.23 percent, a two percentage point increase from last year. “Room condition scores can improve, and I expect better results after completion of PIPs,” Rana says. Guest Perspective

“There are a thousand things that could go wrong in a hotel. If something does go wrong, we correct it as fast as possible.” —Richard Dominguez, chief engineer, Radisson Hotel El Paso Airport, Texas

Despite good QPR progress, the brand’s Guest Satisfaction Index has not seen a huge rebound this year. Recent results showed an overall average score for the past 12 months in the mid-8s, on a scale of 1 to 10. “There’s room for improvement, especially on the product and loyalty side,” Rana says. “With room rates on the rise, attention to guest service has to increase.” Admittedly, with some hotels in the midst of major renovations, dust and debris may affect survey results. Rana encourages managers to communicate renovation status to guests in advance. Most importantly, he says, they can impress guests who have issues by “doing the right thing and doing it generously.” Whether it’s meal vouchers or discounts, the hotel staff has a chance to turn a guest’s complaint into a compliment. “This is where the Yes, I Can! SM service culture and 100 Percent Guest Satisfaction Guarantee comes to life,” he says. “Nothing’s worse than a guest left unsatisfied after informing an employee of an issue. They may never return.” All Together Now

Drawing back guests comes down to employee performance. And properties with high QPR scores have staff members who demonstrate a team mentality. At the Radisson Hotel El Paso Airport in Texas, for example, Chief Engineer Richard Dominguez enjoys a good working relationship with Executive Housekeeper Rosa Ramos, and the property garnered guest room cleanliness scores of 9.16 and room condition scores of 9.01. “My philosophy is that you have to be really close with the housekeeping department,” he says. 46

H o tlin e TH E A MERICAS

Whether dealing with housekeeping staffers or the guests themselves, both want a room fixed quickly, he says. “From a broken blow dryer to a burned-out light bulb, there are a thousand things that could go wrong in a hotel,” he says. “If something does go wrong, we correct it as fast as possible.” Dominguez lists dedication as another must-have quality for successfully maintaining the property. Recently, he showed his commitment by staying all night to fix burst sprinkler system pipes during a cold snap. Lofty Standards

Farther north, Judy Stone, executive housekeeper at the Radisson Suite Hotel Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada, asks her team to inform engineers of any issues they see. Stone’s property impressed Carlson Hotels with a high cleanliness score of 9.02. She’s passionate about presenting a perfect suite to guests, especially with the new touches of luxury introduced by the brand. “I love the new standards,” she raves. She’s also a fan of the new bedding that, without piping, makes it easier for her staff to iron. Beyond that, her team simply knows how to clean. Each member has completed a Canadian certification program for housekeeping, and she says Radisson training tools ensure they’re up-to-date on the latest requirements as room styles get upgraded. Stone is a big believer in using the Radisson implementation kits that show detailed diagrams of new room set-ups. “Some people are visual learners,” she says, noting that books are kept on the housekeepers’ carts in case of a question. “I like every single room to be presented the same,” says Stone. “Consistency is very important.” Stone hits on the very reason for the dramatic changes Carlson has asked of Radisson hotels in the Americas—consistency. Bringing the properties in line with the standards of Radisson worldwide is a key Ambition 2015 strategy goal for the brand. With dedicated employees manning the front lines, the plan appears to be working. ■

Attention to Detail Clockwise from top left: At the Radisson Hotel Orlando, recent renovations bring a fresh and vibrant look to the hotel exterior; Food and Beverage Manager Vijay Bhardwaj prepares the dining room; Front Desk Agent Lisa Johnson fulfills customer requests with a smile.

H otl in e T H E A M E RI CAS



H o tlin e TH E A MERICAS

Carlson Hotels adds clout to the expanding Park Inn brand with the “by Radisson� tag, as the hotels bring their fun and friendly service to guests across the Americas. By Maria Lenhart | Photography by Adam Voorhes

H otl in e T H E A M E RI CAS



fresh player in the midscale hotel segment continues to make its mark in the Americas: Park Inn by Radisson. Formerly known as Park Inn®, the newly branded Park Inn by Radisson is gathering momentum with both new-build developments and the conversion of existing hotels in urban, suburban and airport locations across the world. “We incorporated the Radisson® brand—which is already well known on a global basis—to improve consumer awareness of the Park Inn brand,” says Steve Mogck, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Midscale Brands, Carlson Hotels, Americas. “Using the power of the more established Radisson

the young brand continue to gain momentum in the marketplace.” Room to Expand

Already an established presence internationally, with more than 100 locations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Park Inn by Radisson is now transferring its success to the Americas, with a rapidly growing room count. This growth has occurred even though the total number of hotel locations has remained relatively flat. “In the past year, we’ve taken out four or five smaller hotels that were not consistent with the brand’s midscale positioning, but simultaneously we’ve also added a number of larger hotels that are solidly midscale,” Mogck says. “So the total room count is up dramatically.”

As the Radisson brand evolves—some existing Radisson owners have elected to convert to Park Inn by Radisson because it better fits their current marketing positioning. brand instantly puts the Park Inn brand on the map in consumers’ minds.” More than just a new name, the Park Inn by Radisson brand means that each hotel enjoys the advantage of having Carlson Hotels’ wide-ranging infrastructure firmly behind it, including state-of-the-art technology and global sales and marketing support. For instance, the Club CarlsonSM loyalty program and E-Standby, which allows a guest to book a reservation and then receive an e-mail providing the option to upgrade their room for a nominal price, are just two of the many company-wide features that drive business to hotels. “The substantial investment that Carlson Hotels has made in its revenue-generating capabilities will give a big boost to Park Inn by Radisson,” Mogck says. “The ability for hotels to use programs such as Stay-Night Automated Pricing (SNAP) and to have a very sophisticated Web platform and online marketing capabilities will help 50

H o tlin e TH E A MERICAS

Since April 2010, the brand has added nine properties and 1,804 rooms, more than doubling the portfolio of full-service Park Inn by Radisson hotels in the Americas. “We are growing the brand with larger, full-service hotels that have meeting space and full food and beverage capabilities,” adds Mogck. “This is really hitting a sweet spot for full-service operators who are looking to reposition their hotels within the midscale category.” He notes that Park Inn by Radisson growth is coming from multiple sources. “As the Radisson brand evolves in the Americas to better align with its global positioning, some existing Radisson owners have elected to convert to Park Inn by Radisson because it better fits their current marketing positioning.” Another part of the growth is coming from a variety of midscale operators looking for a fresh and upbeat repositioning opportunity for their hotels, Mogck adds.

Opposite page: Rooms at Park Inn by Radisson hotels feature fresh, colorful design elements. This page: Glass elevators rise through the atrium of the Park Inn by Radisson, Ibirapuera, which is decorated with the brand’s iconic daisies, in São Paulo, Brazil.

“They’re looking for something that stands out, gives them strong revenue and training support, and a global presence.” According to Sharon Wendland, regional vice president, Franchise Operations, Park Inn by Radisson, Carlson Hotels, Americas, the new Park Inn by Radisson properties in the Americas are already making strong inroads into the lucrative business travel and meetings markets. “We’re getting great response from people at the decision-making level for bookings,” she says. “They are excited to have something new and fresh to choose from at a midscale price point.” The fact that the Park Inn by Radisson brand is already well established outside of the Americas is also attracting business, she adds. “For instance, our hotel in Vancouver has seen many guests from Europe as a result of the brand being so well known there.”

Ph o t og ra p h y c o ur te s y of Ca r ls o n Ho t el s

A Step Above

Whether they are new developments or converted from existing hotels, Park Inn by Radisson properties have a contemporary, uncluttered look that embraces the tasteful use of color to create a bright and upbeat environment. All hotels benefit from brand-specific programs such as the Park Inn Essentials, which encompasses standardized in-room amenities and collateral, and the Adding Color to LifeSM service program, which focuses on employee training. According to Mogck, these elements are what set Park Inn by Radisson apart from others in its class. “Unlike some of our midscale competitors, we have developed top-notch training and engagement programs to help our hotels maintain the highest level of performance from their employees,” he says. “These are critical brand value components that appeal to hotel owners and developers who are looking to maximize their return on investment potential in every possible way.” ■

Soaring in the Americas


ark Inn by Radisson continues to pick up momentum in the Americas. Building on its success in Europe, the brand has added hotels in North and South America, from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to São Paulo, Brazil. Since April of 2010, the total portfolio doubled, as 1,804 rooms joined the fold. Some of the properties that have recently opened or will soon join the Park Inn by Radisson family include: • Park Inn by Radisson, Dallas–Love Field; Dallas. Located near downtown Dallas and the airport, the hotel offers 296 rooms and 52 suites, dining and fitness options, and 17 meeting rooms with 16,000 square feet of combined meeting space. • Park Inn by Radisson, Harrisburg West; Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. The 219-room hotel offers several dining options, including the Legends Sports Bar and Grille, indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness center, and 15,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space. • Park Inn by Radisson, Ibirapuera; São Paulo, Brazil. The brand’s first presence in Brazil is a 223-room hotel with an indoor pool, fitness center, business center, full-service restaurant and meeting space for 220 people. • Park Inn by Radisson, Saltillo; Saltillo, Mexico. The first of the brand to open in Mexico, the 111-room hotel features a fitness center, business center, full-service restaurant and meeting space for up to 40 people. • Park Inn by Radisson, Sharon; Sharon, Pennsylvania. A conversion of the former Radisson Hotel Sharon, the 153-room hotel offers 10,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 4,500-square-foot ballroom. • Park Inn by Radisson, Tulsa Airport; Tulsa, Oklahoma. The 172-room hotel features a large outdoor pool, fitness center, a restaurant and lounge, five conference rooms and two large ballrooms. ■ H otl in e T H E A M E RI CAS















12:00 PM

Heart of

CARLSON 3 8 H o t lin e t he a me ricas











CUST Left t o Plann Right: Kr is in mana g, Carlson sy Bunner g , Riess er, Human Hotels; Lyn director, R e Mana lman, dire Resources ette Schumesource c g , directo ement, Ca tor, Distrib Carlson H acher, u o r Brosn r, Sales Op lson Hotels tion Solutio tels; Jennif a Reser han, vice erations, Ca; Dee Gullikns–Channe er p v Hawk ation Servicresident, G rlson Hote son, senio l ls r in Custo s, directo es, Carlsonlobal Distrib ; Christine r, mer S ervice Global Voic Hotels; Pa ution and s, Car u lson H e Reservati lette ons a otels nd





Within the Carlson Hotels Omaha Center beats the lifeblood of a global organization. By Marcia Jedd | Photography by Dean Van Dis | Illustration by Ilovedust H otl in e th e a m ericas eri cas

39 53


Omaha By the Numbers Since opening in 1980, the more than 350 employees at the Omaha Center have contributed a great deal to Carlson Hotels’ success. And the numbers prove it.


Transactions the Central Reservation System processes every second


Requests handled monthly by the Hospitality Support Service Center

2.5 Million

Calls received each year


Technology products and services managed by the Omaha Center


H o tlin e TH E AMERICAS


hirty years ago, the booking process was fairly simple. Guests or travel agents typically called the hotel directly or a central reservation office via a 1-800 number. Reservation specialists managed bookings with pen and paper. Times have changed. Driven primarily by the growth of computerized systems and the Internet, hotels now reach potential guests through hundreds of sales channels. Depending on the combination of intermediaries that lie along those paths, there are millions of possible routes to connect guests with hotels looking to sell reservations. Fortunately, for hotels in the CarlsonSM system, a group of dedicated professionals has kept the company ahead of this shifting channel landscape, so that hotels don’t have to worry about the behind-the-scenes work needed to keep rooms full. With more than 350 employees and 75,000 square feet of office space, Carlson Hotels’ Omaha Center, the company’s U.S. call center, serves as command central for Carlson Hotels’ powerful reservations and global distribution systems.

Omaha Center’s voice reservations specialists occupy the phones 365 days a year, handling a staggering 2.5 million calls annually on behalf of hotels. The Omaha office—with the support of information technology and sales channel specialists— also manages the massive volume of data flowing in and out of the sales channels. Together, the Omaha team is making sure Carlson’s hotels are front and center for potential customers worldwide, no matter how a guest chooses to make a booking. Channel Expansion Christine Brosnahan, vice president, Global

Distribution and Reservation Services, Carlson Hotels, leads the teams responsible for Carlson Hotels’ distribution network, the myriad systems that work together so guests and intermediaries can access products and services from Carlson Hotels and its brands. “When we opened the Omaha Center in 1980, there were just 18 Radisson® hotels,” Brosnahan says. “Since then, the number of sales channels in the hotel industry has grown phenomenally.” First came the rise of Global Distribution Systems (GDSs), such as Amadeus, Sabre

Left to Right: Stacy Braun, manager, Redirected Call Program and Voice Reservations; Nanette Sage, sales specialist; Penny Horan, operations manager, Select Service Hotels; and Jennifer Mawson, operations manager, Full Service Hotels.

and Worldspan. Originally developed by the airline industry, these computerized reservation networks sell airline tickets, hotel rooms and automobile rentals. Traditional travel agents and travel management companies eventually began using these systems. In the late 1990s, the number of sales channels grew again as third-party online travel agencies, such as Expedia, and Orbitz, began tapping GDS information to sell rooms directly to guests. These thirdparty sites rapidly proliferated. More recently, as Carlson Hotels has invested in its brand websites, the volume of revenues coming in from those channels has grown, and the company now is working on branded mobile sites and applications. “But as new channels have been added, it doesn’t mean the other channels go away,” says Brosnahan. “The mix between the channels continues to shift. Omaha has to stay ahead of the continual evolution of distribution services.” Personal Touch

Within Carlson Hotels’ voice reservations department—the original sales channel—185 sales specialists located in Omaha Center generate revenue for the hotels by selling rooms to customers over the phone. The sales specialists’ expertise helps them to answer questions about individual hotels, including amenities and local attractions. Increasingly, Omaha agents take calls through the Redirected Call Program (RCP), which allows hotels to send their direct calls to the Omaha Center and free up hotels’ front desk employees to focus on the guest experience. This dedication allows a specialist to make a booking more often than a front desk employee. A recent independent study confirmed that the specialists at RCP are twice as likely to upsell, twice as likely to try to close the reservation and three times as likely to attempt to save the reservation when compared with hotel representatives. In addition, RCP boosts average incremental room revenue by 14 percent,

Hotel Support


he Omaha Center’s support also comes in the form of on-call operational expertise for general managers and other hotel employees. In 2004, Carlson Hotels opened the Hospitality Support Service Center (HSSC) at the Omaha Center, with two groups supporting full-service and select-service hotels, respectively. Within the select-service group, each Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM and Park Inn by Radisson hotel is paired with a district director in the field and one of 13 hotel specialists in Omaha—the team handles about 4,000 requests from hotels per month. With an average length of service of 10 years, hotel specialists know their properties and operational procedures from front to back. “The average general manager of a Country Inn & Suites hotel has to master 25 different systems to manage the hotel,” says Penny Horan, operations manager, Select Service Hotels, Carlson Hotels. “Hotels can take comfort in knowing we’re here for them with a high level of personalized support.” “The team is ready to answer phones and emails for anything from support systems to standard operating procedures,” Horan adds. “No question is too small, whether brand signage, promotions or questions about the Be Our Guest Breakfast program.” Over in the full-service group, six hotel specialists support Radisson® and Park Plaza® hotels, with a current focus on proactively assisting hotels in increasing guest satisfaction. “We look at the hotel’s Medallia customer experience survey scores and we analyze trends for ways to raise scores in the lowest-scoring areas,” says Jennifer Mawson, operations manager, Full-Service Hotels, Carlson Hotels. She notes that hotels appreciate the help. “This year, our hotel specialists have also started to support hotels by assisting in action plans for improvement.” ■ HHotl otlin ineeTth H EeAMERICAS a m eri cas

41 37

Even Bigger Business Omaha Center supports Carlson Hotels’ global sales efforts with a team of dedicated professionals divided by specialties such as worldwide government business, group travel and corporate travel. The group, led by Dee Gullikson, senior director, Sales Operations, Carlson Hotels, includes an RFP (request for proposal) team that posts all large corporate and travel management consortia bids for hotels of more than USD 10,000 on the Lanyon system, the Web-based corporate RFP management tool utilized by Carlson Hotels.

and that positive variance is trending even stronger in 2011. Carlson Hotels’ voice reservations specialists are also aces at enrolling guests in the new Club CarlsonSM loyalty program. “On roughly 30 percent of our calls, we enroll a new member,” says Paulette Hawkins, director, Global Voice Reservations and Customer Services, Carlson Hotels. The department’s enrollments nearly doubled from 2009 to 282,000 new members in 2010. In addition, the call center’s customer service specialists help hotels to rectify any guest issues. Omaha Center was named Best in Class by the Customer Operations Performance Center (COPC) organization, which audits call centers and resource planning departments. The call center has also been named the best place to work in Omaha. “We have the best call center in the world,” says Thorsten Kirschke, chief operating officer, Carlson Hotels, and president, Carlson Hotels, Americas. Technology Smarts

In addition to the call center, Omaha Center serves as the hub for data that flows in and out of all of the sales channels. 56

H o tlin e TH E AMERICAS

The office’s information technology (IT) teams oversee data management for interactions between hotels’ property management systems and the voice reservations systems, as well as GDSs and the Internet. Carlson Hotels’ IT specialists manage a massive suite of more than 200 products and services that comprise the Central Reservation System (CRS). Every second, the Carlson Hotels CRS processes 150 transactions from around the world. “We keep all of these systems talking to each other. With few exceptions, a hotel only has to enter something such as a new rate or a closing rate once,” says Becky Brechbill, senior director, Information Technology Development, Carlson Hotels. “It then goes into the CRS and around the globe.” Brechbill manages the IT Development team, which provides custom software and data storage to run the CRS. Her team also manages data that allows the company to send customized offers to past guests and support the Club Carlson loyalty program. Another group, IT Support Services, maintains the network infrastructure, while another, Data Content, creates and main-

Left to Right: Omaha Center’s “Lifetime” members all started with the company in the 1980s; Kim Crispin, sales specialist, monitors calls for quality assurance; Omaha Center’s team of district revenue specialists helps hotels increase profits.

tains the databases to ensure that information is accurate across distribution channels. Channel Connection

Assisting in IT application falls under a team led by Jennifer Riesselman, director, Distribution Solutions–Channel Management, Carlson Hotels. “We decide how to connect with various channels to ensure that hotels are available,” she says. The Channel Management team members serve as subject matter experts for all electronic distribution channels and are in charge of researching and developing enhancements to the distribution systems that ultimately drive revenue back to the hotels. The connectivity this team generates includes the “switching” interfaces behind the GDSs that provide the direct link to the Carlson Hotels CRS. “Our focus is simplifying processes for our hotels,” says Riesselman. The Power of Content

While IT and channel management teams keep data flowing smoothly between Carlson Hotels and the sales channels, the nature of that data’s content is also crucial: Compelling hotel descriptions and property content help convert sales. Audrey Murante, senior director, Global E-Business Development, Carlson Hotels, and her team manage content on behalf of hotels in key channels of distribution and negotiate global third-party agreements. Murante stays on top of new travel websites and GDSs, especially those cropping up in emerging markets like China. In turn, her group educates hotels on industry trends. As a first stop, Murante refers hotels to the Carlson Learning Network, where Carlson Hotels recently added a new webinar on GDSs. “Hotels need to know how individual content is passed through distribution systems to different channels worldwide,” she says. The travel industry—and by extension, Omaha Center—is becoming more global every day, adds Murante. “No matter where in the world our hotels are, they all rely on the systems based in Omaha Center.” ■

Revenue Experts


s part of the Omaha Center’s role as the home base of support for CarlsonSM hoteliers and their employees, the center’s staffers also provide critical support that grows property revenues. A nine-member team of district revenue specialists in Omaha are masters in assisting hotels in the fine line between filling up hotels and optimizing revenues. To this end, the Revenue Support Group is the first line of support for Carlson Hotel operators in the Americas, working closely with district directors. With the overarching mission to support each hotel in their efforts to increase RevPAR and RevPAR Index (RPI), James Fuller, manager, Revenue Support Group, Carlson Hotels, describes a number of programs the revenue specialists assist hotels with under the six-point revenue optimization plan announced at the 2011 Carlson Global Hotels Business Conference: • Offer strategies related to the Stay-Night Automated Pricing (SNAP) tool. • Assist hotels with opaque (“blind”) distribution pricing guidelines for sites like Priceline and Hotwire. • Help hotels manage their inventory; for example, ensure discounts are closed if a hotel is almost sold out. • Invite hotels to participate in demand marketing to create special promotions based on their needs. • Encourage hotels to participate in the eStandby program. • Encourage hotels to participate in the Redirected Call Program. Revenue Support helps with guidance on distribution channels, the best business mix to target and demand forecasting. “We have a variety of different tools to help hotels achieve their revenue goals,” Fuller says. “We look to see how the hotel is trending against last year’s numbers and help them decide on a promotional offer to help them increase RevPAR and RPI.” ■ H otl in e T H E AMERICAS


You m night ay not li e commthinking awake a a impa odities f bout howt uture ct th e supp s lies f availabil might two y or yo ity of u e r a r h s. o sure does But Davetel in him up a . œ What’ Gatzke s t the g oods night? De keeping conv enien with valu livering e ce fo r hot and eliers .


H o tlin e TH E A MERICAS

Dave Gatzke, senior director, Strategic Sourcing, Carlson Hotels, monitors markets for commodities such as coffee to ensure the long-term success of hotel supplier programs.

Key Supplier Programs Here are a few of Carlson Hotels’ main vendor programs. • Sysco. Carlson Hotels’ food distribution program with Sysco, one of the industry’s strongest with low margins and high volumes, includes manufacturer rebates. • LG and Philips. Both are considered industry leaders for commercial TVs and designated options for Carlson Hotels’ brands. Strategic Sourcing offers operators low pricing, great warranties and installation options. • Simmons Bedding. The program offers excellent mattress pricing for full-service hotels. For more information on any of Carlson Hotels’ supplier programs, check out the Strategic Sourcing resources on Connect or contact your hotel’s Hospitality Service and Support Center Specialist.


H o tlin e TH E A MERICAS


avid Gatzke, senior director of

Carlson Hotels’ Strategic Sourcing department, and his team of procurement experts keep tabs on prices for commodities such as cotton, coffee and petroleum to see how they might impact costs and supplier programs. And that’s just one of the Strategic Sourcing group’s tasks as it works hand in hand with brand operations to manage the huge pipeline of products and services needed to operate a hotel effectively. “Hotels want the best value on highquality products that meet brand standards, and they need to be able to get these products quickly and easily—that’s where we come in,” says Gatzke. “Our primary mission is to work strategically with the brands to introduce the products that best fit the needs of our hotels and their customers.”

Rigorous Methods

The process demands strong negotiation and thorough research skills to procure the wide range of supplies in demand. Whether operating supplies and equipment (OS&E); products needed for food and beverage (F&B) operations; or furniture, fixtures and accessories (FFA), chances are Strategic Sourcing has it covered. “We support our hotels by finding the right products that meet brand standards—anything from fitness center equipment, to towels and linens, to carpet and lighting—and then analyzing markets and vendors, negotiating contracts and managing supplier programs to ensure the long-term success of our hotels’ purchasing programs,” Gatzke says. The Strategic Sourcing team oversees brand concepts and standards through diligent product testing, vetting suppliers and crunching the numbers to help operators save money on their purchases. The team even makes factory visits to monitor quality among its suppliers and performs risk assessments to make sure vendors are going to be viable a few years down the line. In the case of a recent upgrade for an in-room coffee supplier at Radisson® hotels,

Strategic Sourcing reviewed five coffee suppliers, conducted taste tests, requested that the chosen supplier revise its blend and then tested the coffee at hotels to validate its selection. But that’s only part of the process. “After we negotiate a contract, we continuously monitor the supplier’s service and performance. In this case, we’re also watching the coffee commodity markets and managing inventory within our distributor network,” Gatzke says. Sourcing Made Simple

Hoteliers save time and money by tapping into the purchasing agreements made by Strategic Sourcing. Jose Estrompa, general manager at Radisson Hotel Providence Airport, Rhode Island, uses Carlson Hotels’ supplier programs for buying products such as bedding and in-room amenities. Estrompa appreciates the fact that Strategic Sourcing does a lot of the legwork for him. “It’s useful to have one place to go and get benchmark information on products,” he says. “As a general manager, Carlson saves me a lot of time because I only have to make one phone call or visit one website. I don’t have to shop around for the best deal and product.” Estrompa recently upgraded the property with high-definition (HD) flat-screen TVs, and says the product was made available earlier through Carlson Hotels’ vendor than through other sources. For the Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM brand, the group recently helped roll out the new program for sustainable, nondisposable diningware to the delight of guests and operators alike. “It took more than a year of testing to find the right dishware and flatware products for the brand,” Gatzke says. “We had to find the right suppliers and evaluate their products for durability, attractiveness and other factors.” The nondisposable dishware program required Strategic Sourcing to work with equipment suppliers to ensure the program would be easy to implement. Phil Patel is owner of Country Inn & Suites, Asheville I-240– Tunnel Road in North Carolina, just one of many

Right: When tasked with choosing a new in-room coffee supplier, Strategic Sourcing’s rigorous methods ensured the perfect blend of supplier dependability and guest satisfaction.

hotels now leasing a dishwasher through a Carlson Hotels partnership with industrial cleaning supplier Ecolab. “It worked out great,” Patel says. “Leasing the dishwasher, as opposed to buying, really helps out a small business.” The group also keeps abreast of trends to deliver appealing products at competitive pricing to Carlson Hotel operators. For instance, it recently collaborated with Technical Services to create a new supplier program for Country Inns & Suites hotels that upgrades artwork and mirrors, securing a much more relevant design. (See “Operation Renovation,” page 20.)

I l lu s t ra t io n by I l o ve d us t

Strength in Numbers

Strategic Sourcing buys more effectively by using the strong strategic partnerships of the CarlsonSM global network of nearly 2,000 hotels and restaurants in 77 countries. “Our alliances with Carlson restaurants, Rezidor hotels and Carlson-branded hotels in Asia Pacific are beginning to gain traction, and they give us added leverage at a global level and drive more savings across all company brands,” Gatzke says. The Radisson Hotel Manchester Downtown in Manchester, New Hampshire, recently consolidated its F&B suppliers in favor of a Carlson Hotels/Sysco program, says Kim Roy, general manager: “The Sysco program has great pricing and service. We’ve been on board with it for nearly two years and estimate savings at USD 1,000 per month.” Similarly, Patel reports savings of at least 20 percent on breakfast food costs at his Country Inn & Suites since switching to Carlson’s Sysco program several months ago. He’s able to offer a hearty breakfast to guests each morning, including a daily rotating meat selection and egg dishes. The success of programs like these is a testament to Strategic Sourcing’s ability to bring value and convenience to hoteliers. “It doesn’t make competitive sense for us to try and cut corners,” Patel says. “Everything that Carlson comes out with, we try to participate in.” ■ H otl in e T H E A M E RI CAS


Photography courtesy of The Rezidor Hotel Group

Partner Profile

Fact | Rezidor operates more than 400 hotels in 63 countries.

H ot l i ne Th e Am e r i c a s | V 2 1 1

With a lifetime in the business, Kurt Ritter has a special understanding of what it takes for a hospitality company to succeed.


Kurt Ritter | Brussels, Belgium

Visionary leader of The Rezidor Hotel Group draws on a history of hospitality. | By Ginny Gaylor


ospitality is more than a profession for Kurt Ritter, president and chief executive officer of The Rezidor Hotel Group. It’s a part of his personal heritage. His connection to the hotel business goes back to childhood when his family operated a hotel in Interlaken, Switzerland. “Growing up in a hotel meant I saw firsthand the real value of offering truly attentive, personal service,” Ritter says. “I was already assisting my mother, who was widowed at a young age, as a little boy: I served soup in our restaurant and sang little songs while bringing the plates to the tables—so I got some tips, and no one got angry when I spilled the soup. From the age of 16, I never thought about being anything other than a hotelier,” he adds. Ritter has won numerous honors and distinctions during his 30-plus years with Rezidor, including two Lifetime Achievement Awards and a Corporate Hotelier of the Year Award. But perhaps the biggest testament to his success is the growth of The Rezidor Hotel Group under his leadership. During his 20-year tenure, Rezidor has been one of the world’s fastest-growing hospitality companies. “We grew in an organic way from Scandinavia to the rest of Europe and the Middle East—and later to the young and exciting emerging markets of Africa and Russia. We’ve always had great, progressive ambitions for our brands,” Ritter notes. Today, The Rezidor Hotel Group’s brands include Radisson BluSM—an iconic brand that Carlson Hotels is rolling out for its flagship hotels in the Americas—as well as Park Inn by Radisson and Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM. The company operates these brands in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in partnership with Carlson Hotels. Additionally, it has created a licensing agreement with Italian fashion house Missoni to create the luxury lifestyle brand, Hotel Missoni. Also under Ritter’s leadership, The Rezidor Hotel Group first sold public shares of the company on the Stockholm Stock Exchange in 2006. CarlsonSM is the largest shareholder of Rezidor Hotel Group’s stock. What’s Rezidor’s secret to success? “I think we were hungrier than others and have always had a certain street-fighter spirit,” Ritter says. “We believe in strong, profitable growth, and we follow a very clear business development strategy: asset-light growth in emerging markets.” “Our company’s success depends on its people,” he adds. “We are a true people business, and people must be empowered to make decisions when they matter the most. That is why Rezidor’s vision is so vital; it gives our employees the confidence to do just that.” ■

C arlso n H o t els | H ot li n e TH E A M E RI C AS



Fact | Hotels can direct data security questions to

H o tl i ne T h e A me ri c as | V 2 1 1


Cyber y Patrol

Carlson Hotels’ specialists stay “security alert” in the fight against data theft. | By Jeff Griffin


hen it comes to keeping hotel guests safe, certain precautions come to mind: ample security personnel, reliable door locks and well-lighted parking lots. While critical, these steps do nothing to protect guests from a newer type of threat—stolen credit card information. Armed with this data, cyber thieves can steal customers’ money and even their identities. With an average cost of USD 500 million to cardholders each year, credit card fraud is a growing concern. Kathy Orner and her team of information security specialists at Carlson Hotels are on the frontline in the fight against this potential threat. “CarlsonSM takes information security and data privacy very seriously,” says Orner, vice president, Enterprise Services and chief information security officer, Carlson

Hotels, Americas. “Each of our customers expects that we will keep their information safe and use it only for the purpose for which they gave it to us.” Carlson, like all companies or organizations that accept payment cards, must comply with a system to reduce fraud called the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Developed by the major credit card companies, the PCI standard involves requirements that correlate to six goals: building and maintaining a secure network, protecting cardholder data, maintaining a vulnerability management program, implementing strong access control measures, regularly monitoring and testing networks, and maintaining an information security policy. “What we’ve done at Carlson is embed the PCI requirements into our security program so that if we are following our own policies, we are

Illustration by Tim Marrs

PCI-compliant,” Orner says. “Our company’s security program is very mature in the fact that we actually measure our compliance as part of our operational processes. We review our own compliance to policy, which entails not only self-reporting but the collection of digital artifacts so that evidential support shows we’re accomplishing our goals.” As a global company, Carlson recognizes the need to take a worldwide approach to security and has invested in training and certifying employees as security professionals in multiple regions, from the Americas to Europe to Asia. Carlson also uses external security professionals, hiring Qualified Security Assessors (QSA) from certified and insured contractors. “Our central reservation system is provided to all of our brands, and we invest in a QSA to validate compliance. We’ve received external validation of

our PCI compliance since 2009, and to my knowledge, we were the first hotel system to achieve the certification.” Recognizing the complexities inherent in global operations, Carlson has also aligned its policies with Information Security Management Systems developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Adhering to these high standards—ISO/ IEC 27001 and ISO/IEC 27002—further ensures that Carlson meets the demands of operating in a global environment of continually evolving security threats. While many of the security protocols are technology-related, Orner says that the success of any security system depends on people. “It’s really about creating a culture; people are the critical component. It’s a continual process; you have to keep vigilant.” ■

“It’s really about creating a culture; people are the critical component.” — Kathy Orner, vice president, Enterprise Services and chief information security officer, Carlson Hotels, Americas H otl i n e TH E A M ERI CAS 65

H o t l i n e T h e A m e r i c a s | V211

Moving Forward Carlson Hotels continues to make a difference. | By Greg Shemkovitz


“We can share ideas and make a greater difference in our communities.” — Brenda Schultz, director, Responsible Business, Carlson Hotels, Americas

6 6 H o tlin e T H E A MERICAS

ith the success of the Responsible Business program and its expansion worldwide, Carlson Hotels continues to strengthen its commitment to the environment and helping those in need. This September marks another Global Responsible Business Action Month when CarlsonSM employees around the world are encouraged to volunteer their time to support local community programs, as well as engage in more sustainable practices. In order to recognize efforts and share successes, Carlson hotels are asked to register their activities with Brenda Schultz, director, Responsible Business, Carlson Hotels, Americas. “With better communication across the hotels, we can share ideas and make a greater difference in our communities,” says Schultz.

Perhaps the easiest way to make a difference is by doing what we all do every day: texting. Carlson Hotels is supporting the World Childhood Foundation with a new fundraising campaign this September. By simply texting in a donation, employees and guests can make a donation to help support programs like art therapy for abused children. “It’s a great way to maximize donations to a wonderful cause,” says Schultz. “But it’s also an opportunity for brand building and engaging staff and guests in a common effort.” For more information about the World Childhood Foundation, visit The Responsible Business program has also set its sights on the environment. Carlson Hotels is partnering with a nonprofit called Let’s Do It! to sponsor the first World Cleanup, set to launch March 24, 2012. World Cleanup solicits volunteers to remove debris from various locations around the world. The Let's Do It! website features an interactive Global Waste Map that tracks the waste and debris in particular hot spots all over the world. Of course, Carlson Hotels’ commitment to the environment is not just for one day; Responsible Business efforts will continue year-round, as Carlson Hotels works to reduce its consumption of natural resources by at least 5 percent in 2011. To simplify the process, Carlson Hotels has partnered with Goby, a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and Energy Star expert. Goby will assist in setting up the monitoring system through Energy Star Portfolio Manager, audit current practices, help set reduction strategies and track each hotel’s progress. Reducing energy consumption is no easy task, but general managers and hotel staff can work together to draw up feasible action plans for energy and water consumption reductions. Be sure to participate this September and yearround to help in Carlson’s commitment to serving communities worldwide. Please register your activities at ■

Ph o t og ra p h y c o u rt es y o f C ar ls on Ho t e l s

Giving g Back

Out and About Clockwise from top left: Hotel employees pick up litter; staff help beautify the local community; Thorsten Kirschke and others at a charity run for World Childhood Foundation; a staff member visits a home for young mothers in need.

“Our Responsible Business program will have a longterm impact on our profitability.” — Beathe-Jeanette Lunde, executive vice president, People Development and Responsible Business, Carlson


Fact | I CarlsonSM will conduct Business School classes in five locations this year.

H otl i n e T h e A me ri c a s | V211


With Highest Honors

The Business School @ Carlson prepares Carlson Hotels’ people for continued success. | By Karen Alley


ospitality will always be, fundamentally, a people-driven business. The foundation of a successful hotel is largely made up of the people who work within it. With that in mind, Carlson Hotels last year launched an exciting new initiative in the Americas, The Business School @ Carlson. The school’s mission? To help the company, its hotels and its people achieve peak performance. “We want to become the leading hotel company to work for. To do that, our people need to be able to grow in their careers,” says Beathe-Jeanette Lunde, executive vice president, People Development, Responsible Business, Safety and Security, Carlson. “The purpose of the Business School is to develop future leaders—to help them be innovative, resultsdriven, customer-focused and highly engaged.”

Opportunities Abound The Business School gives hotel managers, department heads and supervisors, as well as the company’s corporate leaders, the insights needed to excel at their jobs, whether it’s caring for customers, inspiring employees, driving revenue or increasing sales. While frontline employees don’t typically attend Business School classes, their hotel-based training—such as service or Responsible Business training—is administered by trainers who have been certified by the Business School. Interactive training sessions, inspirational speakers and opportunities to learn from and network with other attendees are part of what makes these courses exceptional. Steve Outwater, vice president, People Development, Carlson Hotels, Americas, and dean of The

Business School @ Carlson, has helped create an exciting lineup of classes, taught by dynamic and passionate leaders in the industry. “For 2011, we designed the curriculum of the Business School to focus on business planning, sales performance, leadership, brand orientation and service training,” Outwater says. Investing in Achievement From creating business plans and learning brand strategy to becoming a better communicator and negotiator, the educational knowledge that students gain is one way that Carlson Hotels sets itself apart from the competition. “The Business School is an invaluable way to discover new programs and network with other employees, which will help students develop as professionals,” Outwater says.

While it might seem impossible to find the time to leave a busy hotel operation, even for training, the rewards of attending classes are well worth the time spent. “Students leave engaged, energized and ready to go back to their property with renewed passion,” Outwater says. “The return on investment from the time spent in class is immeasurable.” The more than 340 students from the past year agree. Attendee feedback indicates that most would highly recommend the classes to other employees. How to Enroll Business School offers classes in various locations, four to six times each year. Carlson Hotels sends invitations to general managers, directors of sales and corporate leaders via email 10 weeks prior to the start of each school. To register for a course, access the Learning Network on Connect. ■

“The Business School is an invaluable way to discover new programs and network.” —Steve Outwater, vice president, People Development, Carlson Hotels, Americas, and dean of The Business School @ Carlson H otlin e TH E A M E RI CAS 69

Hotline The Americas | V211

Hotline News Plus wh at ’s h a p p e n i n g i n t h e wo r ld o f c ar lso n h o tels S M | b y G R EG SH EM KO VI TZ

Bar None

CarlsonSM hotels join humanitarian effort.

P ho t o gr a ph y co u rt e s y o f C l ea n th e Wo r l d

Taking a fresh approach to helping those in need, several Carlson hotels have partnered with Atlanta-based nonprofit Global Soap Project to collect used and discarded bars of soap from guest rooms. Since joining in October, participating Carlson hotels nationwide have collected more than 2,000 pounds of soap. With 2.6 million bars of soap discarded daily by hotels in the United States, the Global Soap Project collected more than 75 tons of soap last year. As soap is collected, it is shipped to Atlanta where the used bars are processed into new bars of soap. The soap is then shipped to areas of the world where it’s needed most, such as parts of Uganda, Kenya, Swaziland, Haiti, Ghana and elsewhere. Several Carlson hotels also participate in a similar project called Clean the World, which collects soap and other amenities for areas in need around the globe. ■

7 0 H o tlin e T H E A MERICAS

Fact | The first booking for the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago came at 10:36 a.m. CDT on July 6, 2011.

Ink and

Ph ot o g ra p hy c o ur te s y of Ca rl s o n H o t e ls


If you glanced at the May 2011 issue of Meetings and Conventions® magazine, you may have recognized the face on the cover as Thorsten Kirschke, chief operating officer, Carlson Hotels, and president, Carlson Hotels, Americas. Kirschke is featured prominently in CherylAnne Sturken’s article, “Born-Again Hotel Brands.” Sturken reports on Carlson Hotels’ growth strategy, Ambition 2015, and the company’s move to align its Radisson® brand in the Americas with global standards. According to Kirschke, “We are sticking to our original plan to improve the backbone of this brand.” Kirschke is making the rounds in news outlets as well, representing Carlson Hotels and building on the buzz about the company. “From a public relations perspective,

Above: Marilyn Carlson Nelson (third from left), chairman, Carlson, with husband Dr. Glen Nelson and members of Mortenson Development, Inc. at the Radisson Blu Hotel at Mall of America groundbreaking ceremony. Right: Thorsten Kirschke appears on the cover of Meetings & Conventions®.

Ground Breaking

Radisson Blu Hotel at Mall of America sees its start.

In June, Carlson Hotels broke ground for

the new Radisson Blu Hotel at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. “We’re cracking the code on the ‘Bluprint’ with this exciting new property,” says Thorsten Kirschke, chief operating officer, Carlson Hotels, and president, Carlson Hotels, Americas. “It’s the next step in our plan to elevate the Radisson brand in the United States by opening flagship hotels in gateway cities.” The hotel will feature a full-service spa, fitness facility with indoor swimming pool, nearly 23,000 square feet of meeting space and a lobby situated on the mall’s second floor. This 500-room, USD 137.5 million project is the second Radisson Blu development in the United States, and is expected to open in March 2013. “This is a major milestone in achieving our Ambition 2015 growth strategy,” says Bob Kleinschmidt, executive vice president and chief development officer, Carlson Hotels, Americas. “Following the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago, the Radisson Blu at Mall of America is sure to be a landmark destination.” ■

it’s important to talk to the media in order to elevate our brands,” says Molly Biwer, vice president, Communications and Public Relations, Carlson Hotels, Americas. Kirschke recently appeared on business news television channel CNBC to talk about plans for development of Radisson BluSM hotels in the Americas. Kirschke isn’t the only one making appearances. More recently, Smart Meetings magazine featured the Radisson Plaza–Warwick Hotel Philadelphia renovation in the Before & After section of its July issue, including before and after photographs of the hotel’s transformation. Where will Carlson Hotels appear next? Biwer says, “With all the great things happening at Carlson Hotels, the media is taking a closer look at us. That should help boost the system as a whole.” ■

H ot l in e TH E A M E RI CAS


THE HONOR ROLL CarlsonSM hotels and staff earn kudos.

Guest Feedback

Praise from Customers

■ “Once in a great while, a refreshing bit of remarkable service is experienced, and when that happens, I believe the company should be made aware of it. For a number of years now, I have spent an average of 30–45 days on the road and, due to a recent 7 2 H o tlin e T H E A MERICAS

territory change, I have been fortunate to add Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Decorah, Iowa, to my hotel list. I would like you to know that General Manager Cathy Grunwald and her staff are consistently among the finest that I have ever experienced. Ms. Grunwald elevates the concept of

customer service to a day-to-day way of life (and she inspires that same level of service in her staff). I cannot tell you how helpful she has been on my behalf, assisting me at the last minute to accommodate unforeseen schedule changes. I would also say the same with regard to the staff; not once have I had the occasion to complain about the neatness or cleanliness of my room, and they always greet me courteously and with a smile. And each time I walk into this hotel, they make me feel as if I were the most special guest they’d ever had. In any case, please accept this note for what is intended to be it a simple thank you for extraordinary service.” Michael Hummel, Business Solutions, US Postal Service ■ “After losing everything to a tornado, our family came to [Country Inn & Suites, Chattanooga at I-24] with no identification, money or even shoes. When we arrived, General Manager Tameika Murray was unbelievably kind to us. Words cannot express our gratitude toward this wonderful staff. One night, a staff member learned that I could not sleep. There was a knock at our door, and a few of the

staff were standing there with hot cookies for me! I hope someone hears what an excellent job this hotel is doing. Thank you for having caring people on staff. We miss each and every one of them.” Sandra Whetzell ■ “I just wanted to recognize General Manager Dinesh Patel at the Country Inn & Suites, Round Rock, Texas. When staying there in May, my son inadvertently left his beloved stuffed animal somewhere in the room. We thought it was at home, but after a couple of days searching (and several sleepless nights wondering) we determined that “CowCow” must not have made it to the car for our return trip to Dallas–Fort Worth. When I called to see if the stuffed animal

was in lost and found, I spoke with front desk staff who not only located the beloved family member but took the time to coordinate with me a way to return our lost treasure by UPS. They had gone the extra mile to place CowCow in a box with gift wrap. I was simply blown away by their care. It was like Christmas in June when my son opened the box and hugged CowCow. Thanks so much for your hotel staff and especially Dinesh, who saved a certain 4-yearold’s heart from being broken.” Heather Gleason ■

Left: Cathy Grunwald, general manager, Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Decorah, Iowa. Top: Exterior, Country Inn & Suites, Chattanooga West at I-24, where tornado victims took refuge.

Ph o t og ra p h y c o ur t es y o f Ca r l so n H ot e ls

Fact | Cathy Grunwald, general manager, Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Decorah, Iowa, received a President’s Award in 2010.

Hotline The Americas | V211

Ph o to g ra ph y c o ur te s y of Ca r ls o n Ho t el s

Hotline News Plus

■ “For our wedding [229 adults and 14 children] at Radisson Hotel La Crosse, Wisconsin, Catering Sales Manager Tom Bartig made sure we were taken care of. Everyone was great. Bartender Earl Carver made sure to keep guests happy, while waiter Chad Rigall went above and beyond, tending to my nephew’s tantrums with ice cream. Dinner was awesome! With a gluten allergy and an intolerance to lactose, my mother rarely goes out to eat

without getting sick. She was tickled when someone took the time to talk with her about the meal. She later raved about the food. You guys rock! I can’t thank Bartig enough for how hasslefree he made our wedding. I never had

to worry about things getting done, and everyone exceeded my expectations. I had a number of newlyweds at my reception. They were all jealous of the extra TLC the Radisson gave us.” Rebecca Richards ■

calm. There is no doubt in my mind that without Leon’s actions, there could have been a sad outcome that afternoon.” Joanne Cunningham, general manager, Radisson Plaza–Warwick Hotel Philadelphia ■

■ “During a recent event, [Radisson Plaza–Warwick Hotel Philadelphia] catering houseman Leon Bibbs heard a loud commotion from the ballroom, where he found a guest coughing and choking. She couldn’t breathe. Leon acted fast and performed the Heimlich maneuver, clearing her airway and making sure she was breathing before calling for a manager. I responded to find the guest and her husband commending Leon for his swift action and for keeping everyone

■ “I’m writing to inform you of the superb customer service I recently received at the Radisson Hotel Winnipeg Downtown. I’d also like to commend [then General Manager] Steven Bartlett and the staff for their major part in that experience. When I arrived by cab, my baggage was stolen off the curb by a group of passers-by. I entered the hotel, mentioned what had happened and watched Steven and the staff spring into action. Bellman Eugene Vlarte immediately set out

on foot and began a search for the thieves. Director of Sales Marion McKenzie called Winnipeg Police and, in the hours that followed, overwhelmed me with caring service. Assistant Manager Ron Popiel started his own ground search, tracking down the group several blocks away. Ron stayed on location until police arrived. In the end, my baggage and valuable contents were returned, owing directly to the incredible efforts of Steven and the hotel staff. Traveling for a living, I am mostly happy with a comfortable bed and clean room, but the remarkable service I experienced that day is a gold standard and certainly worthy of mention.” Richard G. Pittet, Captain, Air Canada ■

Top: Earl Carver, bartender, and Tom Bartig, catering sales manager, Radisson Hotel La Crosse, Wisconsin. Right: Steven Bartlett, director, Global Sales, Carlson; Eugene Vlarte, bellman; Marion McKenzie, sales director, Radisson Hotel Winnipeg. H ot l in e TH E A M E RI CAS


Fact | Country Inns & Suites By Carlson offers 12 two-day regional service trainings hosted throughout the country each year.

THE TRAINING ROOM Carlson Hotels employees sharpen skills.

Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM takes training on the road.

As part of The Business School @ Carlson, Country Inns & Suites is hosting trainings around the country with the new Be Our Guest Service Training program, as well as courses in the Responsible Business Training program and revenue generation strategies.

guest-relations training sessions will help create a competitive advantage for Country Inns & Suites hotels and the brand. “This service training has evolved to give a stronger alignment with the existing brand recognition program,” says Steve Mogck, executive vice president and chief operating officer,

Midscale Brands, Carlson Hotels, Americas. “It reinforces our emphasis on caring, consistent and comfortable guest experiences.” Another component to the regional rallies is revenue generation, which is designed to help general managers generate more revenue for their hotels.

For more information on The Business School @ Carlson, read “With Highest Honors” on page 68.

“Our objective is to work with our general managers to find innovative ways to create revenue,” says Steve Outwater, vice president, People Development, Carlson Hotels, Americas. General managers will participate in training on such topics as revenue optimization, marketing, sales and distribution strategies at the regional rallies. Responsible Business training will also serve as a key part of the Country Inns & Suites regional rallies, emphasizing the importance of social and ethical responsibility and the need for sustainable practices within each hotel. ■

Top: New Country Inns & Suites By Carlson general managers gather with smiles at a recent training. Left: Hotel staff participate in a number of activities during a regional rally and proudly display their artwork. 7 4 H o tlin e T H E A MERICAS

Ph o t og ra p h y c o ur t es y o f Ca r l so n H ot e ls

Regional Rallies

These training sessions will come as regional rallies, starting in the fall. Replacing the Friends Hosting Friends program, Be Our Guest Service Training is a hotel trainer certification program meant to teach the hotel trainer how to implement and lead a service culture within Country Inns & Suites hotels. These

Fact | TRICS=S safety and security reports are sent monthly to each CarlsonSM hotel in the Americas.


and Secure

Ph ot o g ra p hy c o ur te s y of Ca rl s o n H o t e ls

Six CarlsonSM hotels in India are added to the John Deere preferred hotel program.

Based on reports from OSAC Hotel Security Working Group, six hotels in India have been recognized for their keen dedication to safety and security. Radisson Hotel Delhi, Radisson Hotel GRT Chennai, Radisson Suites Gurgaon, Radisson Hotel Noida, Radisson Hotel Pune Kharadi and Radisson Hotel Indore have proven they can hold up to John Deere’s strict policies on security and have been added to the company’s preferred hotel program. These efforts were taken in response to a Rezidor Hotel Group and Carlson Hotels safety and security program called TRIC=S (Threat assessment +Risk mitigation +Incident response +Crisis management = Safe, Secure, Sellable Hotels).

Above: Radisson Aruba Resort staff joined together during the Easter holiday weekend to clean debris along a mile-long stretch of nearby highway. Right: A hotel staff member displays a shoe freshly plucked from a stream along the road.

Taking it Outside Radisson Aruba Resort scours its adopted mile.

Wearing their Yes I Can!SM T-shirts, associates and staff of Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa gladly set an example of environmental stewardship by picking up plastic bottles, cups and take-out food containers that littered a mile-long stretch of road as part of the Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association–sponsored Adopt-A-Mile program. “It is important that we all take ownership of Responsible Business, because we are the people, community and environment, and we are responsible,” says Glenn Farro, director of Human Resources, Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa. In that spirit, the resort scheduled a roadside cleaning to show its commitment to the community of Aruba. The cleanup occurred just before Easter. The resort crew—made up of members of the Human Resources department, the executive office, the Sales office, Banquets, Landscaping and Security—met early in the morning and spent more than two hours collecting debris between the Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa and the Sasaki highway. Despite the heat, the crew removed a considerable amount of trash and had a lot of fun fishing the hard-to-reach litter out of the Bubali nature reserve’s water-filled ditches. ■

According to the Safety and Security team, any multinational, multibrand company that maintains a high level of safety and security is dependent on the everyday actions of each employee throughout the hotel. The program’s vision is simple: Always Care. Always Care emphasizes the personal responsibility every employee is expected to take to ensure the safety and security of people and property in all hotels. With assistance from the TRIC=S program, these six hotels did just that. “By showing that they share the same priorities with their guests, these hotels serve as a perfect example for other Carlson hotels around the globe,” says Chris Gernentz, director, Safety and Security, Carlson Hotels, Americas. “This is what happens when we use our internal resources to assist customers with their business needs.” ■

H ot l in e TH E A M E RI CAS



DIRECTOR Nancy Johnson, executive vice president, Development, Carlson Hotels, Americas, has recently been named to an advisory board that will investigate the policies and protocol for registering domain names ending in .hotel. With the growing importance of Internet distribution, and in a global market where a unique and strong online presence is necessary to stay competitive within the industry, a searchable domain name has become paramount for hotel brand exposure. The .hotel advisory board is responsible for determining who will be allowed to register a .hotel domain name. It will also provide guidance in governing organizations by establishing policies and objectives regarding the new domain and its use. Registrants eligible for a .hotel domain name

Above: Radisson® Plaza Hotel Minneapolis included fliers with guest room key packets raising awareness of environmental issues and offering ideas for green travel practices for guests during their stay in the hotel. Right: Nancy Johnson, executive vice president, Development, Carlson Hotels, Americas. 7 6 H o tlin e T H E A MERICAS

Green Made Easy

Radisson Plaza Hotel Minneapolis turns Earth Day into Earth Month.

In recognition of Earth Day, for the month of April, the Radisson Plaza Hotel Minneapolis and the hotel’s FireLake restaurant purchased carbon offsets through The Carbon Neutral Company, a world-leading provider of carbon reduction solutions. These carbon offsets fund wind power, hydro power, solar paneling and other sustainable energy sources that help to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Through the purchase of these carbon offsets it was calculated that the Radisson Plaza Hotel had a carbon output of zero for the entire month of April. With the Club CarlsonSM Hotel Reward Program, any CarlsonSM hotel may participate in carbon-offset initiatives. Hotel employees can encourage Club Carlson members interested in diminishing their carbon footprint to trade in points for carbon offsets. When hotels do this, they too are contributing to a cleaner environment. ■

will include individual hotels, hotel chains and hotel organizations such as the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA) and Hospitality and Sales Marketing Association International (HSMAI). Eventually, the advisory board plans to open registration to other organizations working in or for the hotel industry that meet the eligibility requirements. Some prospective registrants will include hospitality educational institutions, hotel booking portals, hotel suppliers and vendors, and hotel media organizations. As the newest member of the advisory board, Johnson’s role will be to support the domain name management team and review strategies for regulating use of the new .hotel domain name. She will also assist with the development of domain name registration policies and procedures for all prospective registrants. ■

I l l us t ra t i o n b y U l l a Pu gg a ar d ; p h o to g ra p h y c o ur te s y o f C ar ls on Hot e l s

Fact | CarlsonSM hotels can now track their carbon footprint and energy consumption with Energy Star Portfolio Manager.

Hotline The Americas | V211

Hotline News Plus “There’s tremendous energy. You never know what to expect, so you just have to be ready.” —Kim Roy, general manager, Radisson Hotel Manchester Downtown

Campaign p g Trail

Radisson Hotel Manchester Downtown is a bipartisan favorite.

Ph o t og ra p h y c o ur te s y of Co r bi s


oliticians and pundits of both parties agree on one thing: The place to be during New Hampshire’s primary season is the Radisson Hotel Manchester Downtown. Since 1984, network news anchors, presidential candidates, campaign staffers and assorted hangers-on have all made it their home base. Early signs indicate the 2012 election will be no different. “We have NBC, CNBC, C-SPAN, and ABC here, and Fox News has a studio here, too,” says Kim Roy, general manager. “Michele Bachmann was just interviewed here on our property.” With candidates including Barack Obama, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney staying in one of the 250 spacious rooms or coming in for interviews, and with sideshows such as Internet sensation “Obama Girl” creating YouTube videos in the lobby, the atmosphere can become almost carnival-like at times. Two rooms devoted to live radio broadcasts known as “radio row” are part of the 65,000 square feet of conference, banquet and exhibit space put to use by media and campaign teams. The action never stops, which means room service and other hotel services stay busy through the wee hours. “It’s always amazing the schedules the journalists, candidates and their staffs keep,” Roy says. “I really don’t think they sleep.” The 2012 primary will be Roy’s eighth on the property, but she says it’s just as exciting as the first. ■

Right: George Stephanopoulos, chief political correspondent for ABC News, is one of many journalists who makes the Radisson Hotel Manchester Downtown a home base when covering the primary election season. H ot l in e TH E A M E RI CAS


Fact | Carlson Hotels currently maintains a Facebook account for each of its brands to strengthen customer relations.

Carlson Hotels made waves at Hospitality and Sales Marketing Association International’s (HSMAI) Affordable Meetings Mid-America Exhibition and Conference in April with a tiny handheld device called the Poken. Carlson Hotels is Poken’s first partner in the North American hospitality sector, having partnered with companies like BMW and IBM in other industries. Since first using the device at the National Business Travel Association conference last August, the Poken has allowed Carlson Hotels to more efficiently reach a wider customer base. The way the Poken works is simple and effective. With a single touch between Pokens, users can swap contact information that they later upload to their

Above: Lynn Messman, senior director, Franchise Operations, Sales Programs, Country Inns & Suites By Carlson and Park Inn by Radisson, Carlson Hotels, Americas, presented an incentive check outside Country Inn & Suites, St. Cloud East, Minnesota. Right: Two Poken devices featuring the Carlson logo swap contact information at a recent HSMAI Conference. 7 8 H o tlin e T H E A MERICAS

Lead Stardom

A year into the program and Lead Star is a success.

Since piloted in April of 2010, Lead Star—a propertyto-property lead referral program that pays out incentives to hotel employees—has shown success as it recently expanded to include Radisson® and Park Inn by Radisson hotels in January 2011 and brought more than 650 leads from its now 1,700 registered employees. “The response has been overwhelming,” says Lynn Messman, senior director, Franchise Operations, Sales Programs, Country Inns & Suites By Carlson and Park Inn by Radisson, Carlson Hotels, Americas. “We are working very hard to keep up with converting these leads to sales.” The program has already generated nearly USD 380,000 in revenue, USD 20,000 of which has come from meeting room and food and beverage sales, and has paid out USD 8,000 in referral bonuses to hotel employees. ■

Ph ot o g ra p hy c ou rt e s y o f Ca rl s o n H o te l s


computer or smartphone and immediately sync to social networking accounts like Twitter and Facebook. “The Poken device has allowed us to continue our mission of creating personal connections with our customers,” says Brad Penrith, senior director, Global Sales, Carlson Hotels. “It also generated some incredible interest in our booth.” The Poken’s popularity at the HSMAI conference won Carlson Hotels Best Onsite Booth Promotion/Marketing for their innovative approach to tradeshow marketing. “We’ve set the bar high,” says Penrith, who is looking forward to this year’s Global Business Travel Association conference. “We’re excited about future booths.” Carlson Hotels and Poken will be at two Las Vegas events this fall: TEAMS ’11 (Travel, Events and Management in Sports) Conference & Expo in October and NTA (National Tourism Association) Convention ’11 in December. ■

—Donna DeFrancesco, Club Carlson Concierge Elite member

Fact | Club CarlsonSM enrollment is up 32 percent from last year.

“In 2010, I spent all but 17 days in Carlson properties.”

Like a Rolling Stone Guest Donna DeFrancesco gathers no moss. | By Judy Kirkwood

Ph o t og ra p h y b y Aa ro n P ac k a rd

H o t l i n e T h e Am e ri ca s | V 211

Guest Profile


lub CarlsonSM Concierge Elite member Donna DeFrancesco admits that she basically lives in hotels. “In the last two years, I have spent 693 days in hotels. Primarily Radisson® hotels. In 2010, I spent all but 17 days in Carlson properties.” DeFrancesco sometimes works 12-hour days, seven days a week, and she is almost always on the road, traveling across the United States. With stays that often last for months at a time, she has become a connoisseur of what hotels have to offer. The reason she likes Radisson is simple. “I am always greeted with a smile,” says DeFrancesco. “The desk staff always bends over backwards to accommodate me and my sometimes outlandish requests, given that I am practically living in their hotel.” “They always keep me in the same room regardless of how busy they may become during my stay or when I check in,” she adds. “They always remain consistent with the agreed-upon corporate rates. And the staff are like family.” With Concierge Elite status, Carlson Hotels’ highest loyalty program membership tier, DeFrancesco appreciates it when front desk staff offer perks like complimentary room upgrades without her having to ask for them. But in addition to upgrades, as well as free, high-speed Internet access, DeFrancesco likes the enhanced point-earning opportunities of the new Club Carlson program. “The redemption rate is very fair, and it’s nice how many Radisson hotels are located around the world. For pleasure travel, I like the Radisson BluSM hotels and Park Inn by Radisson hotels in Europe. Some of my favorites are Radisson Blu and Park Inn properties in Sweden, Denmark and Ireland.” Away for such long periods of time, it’s hard for DeFrancesco to say just where home is. “I live in Denver—sort of.” The truth is that right now the Radisson Hotel Bismarck in North Dakota is as much her home as Denver. “A staff member there had just found out she was pregnant in the beginning of my stay in Spring 2009. I was still there when she had her son nine months later. I’m back there again, and he’s 2 now.” ■



H o t l i ne The Americas | V 211

Fact | The Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places. 80


Photography by Tara Donne

ge of Elegance | Situated in one of the most beautiful railroad station buildings

in the East, the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel in Scranton, Pennsylvania, is both historically tied to the region’s coal mining past and in step with the city’s recent rebirth. Originally built in 1908, the hotel’s lobby boasts marble, stained glass and period lighting. Guests can dine at Carmen’s Restaurant & Wine Bar or Trax Perfectly Cosmopolitan, work out in the fitness center or relax in spacious accommodations with beautiful city views. The hotel, which is ranked #2 in TripAdvisor’s ratings for Scranton business travel, has a prime downtown location and is the closest full-service hotel to Wilkes Barre/Scranton International Airport. The hotel is currently undergoing a multimillion dollar renovation, ensuring its relevance and appeal for today’s guests. ■

© 2011 Country Inns & Suites By Carlson,SM Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Only the Best for our Guests. This is the Country, where we deliver unexpected value every day. Our complimentary hot breakfast is now served on classic diningware— china, silverware and glassware—instead of disposables. This initiative for 2011 is not only environmentally responsible and reduces hotel expenses over time, but also makes breakfast feel even more like home. We’re proud to be the first midscale hotel brand in the United States to add this enhancement. And we’re certain it’s another reason our guests will be saying “I love this Country.”

GBC.indd 1

8/3/11 9:21 AM

Hotline V11  

Hotline Magazine

Hotline V11  

Hotline Magazine