Rezidor’s President & CEO Kurt Ritter is a new member of the British Travel Industry Hall of Fame after he was recognised “for having created a major and highly successful leading organisation in the global travel and hospitality industry”.
Ritter has been appointed Rezidor’s President & CEO in 1989 and is most probably the longest serving Chief Executive Officer of the industry. Under his leadership, Rezidor became one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing hotel groups. The company’s current portfolio features more than 425 hotels with 93,000 rooms in more than 65 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Rezidor operates Europe’s largest upscale brand Radisson Blu, the mid-market brand Park Inn by Radisson, and the luxury lifestyle brand Hotel Missoni.
“I am very honoured to be a new member of the British Travel Industry Hall of Fame. This award means a great motivation to me to continue my work in the world of hospitality. Our industry is one of the most prosperous global businesses, and dedicated to serving our guests in hotels with clearly defined brands and innovative, personalized services. A hotel will never be a standardized machine, but always a true people business”, said Kurt Ritter.
The British Travel Industry Hall of Fame was created in 1995 to honour the most outstanding achievements in the British and international travel- & tourism sector. Among the members are personalities like Thomas Cook (Founder Thomas Cook), Sir Richard Branson (Founder Virgin), and Lord Forte of Ripley (Founder Forte Hotels). Also Curtis Carlson, Founder of Carlson, and his daughter Marilyn Carlson Nelson, currently Chairman of Carlson, are Hall of Fame members.
Swiss-born Kurt Ritter grew up in his parents’ hotel in Interlaken, and was educated at the famous École de Hôtelière in Lausanne. After having spent some time at the Hotel Bellevue Palace in Berne and with Ramada International Hotels in Belgium, France, Germany and Sweden Ritter joined Rezidor in 1976. He served as General Manager in Sweden and Kuwait, as Vice President Middle East & Far East, based in Singapore, and finally as the President & CEO, based in Oslo and then in Brussels.
Key dates of his career include the Master Franchise Agreement with Carlson Hotels Worldwide to create Radisson SAS in 1994, and the agreement with Carlson in 2002 to also develop the brands Country Inns & Suites, Park Inn and Regent across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In 2005, Ritter signed the worldwide licence agreement with Missoni to develop and operate the luxury lifestyle brand Hotel Missoni, and in 2006 he was responsible for Rezidor’s IPO on the Stockholm Stock Exchange. In 2012 and in cooperation with Carlson’s President & CEO Hubert Joly, he launched the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, one of the ten largest hotel groups worldwide.
Kurt Ritter’s charisma, his genuine belief in hospitality, and his straightforward approach are admired and awarded throughout the industry. Ritter was the “Corporate Hotelier of the World 2002”, received the “International Hotel Investment Forum Lifetime Achievement Award 2004”, and the “MKG Lifetime Achievement Award 2008”. He also holds two Honorary Doctorates of Johnson & Wales University, Providence (USA) and Oxford Brookes University (UK).